The Stage Under the Cedars by Irene Byers

I managed to get a second hand copy of this rare work (you’ll find it in the British Library of course, and other legal deposit libraries) and read it with some interest.

It seems to be a vintage “young adult” novel: aimed perhaps at older teenagers and university students. The plot hinges around the interestingly sulky and rather hopeless Carolyn: too tall for ballet, surly about the prospects of teaching ballet, and supposedly (and implausibly) a hidden, huge talent when it comes to acting. To my mind consistency should surely be a critical virtue in the acting profession and the heroine displays little of this.

It’s an engaging though predictable romp: the heroine is perhaps made too useless in the early stages to make the ending credible, and the meeting with a famous stage star is saccharine, but there’s much to enjoy.

In the same way that Byers’ novels for younger children recall Enid Blyton, Stage Under the Cedars reminds one of the more “teenage” Noel Streatfeild books, particularly the Gemma series.

In tone I found myself remembering Cliff Richard’s “The Young Ones” (1961): those rather earnest, rather shrill-voice “hip young people” of the 1960s and 1970s that aren’t quite children and aren’t quite adults. The UK age of majority was 21 until 1970, and The Stage Under the Cedars was written before that date, hence perhaps the sense of limbo.

There is a sequel to this work, Cameras on Carolyn.

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