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The Mallen Streak


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The first in a trilogy all about the Mallens.  The men are distinguished by their blacker than black hair which has a white streak through it. That and the so called Mallen Curse, where no male Mallen has ever died in his bed or of old age.


We start our story with Thomas Mallen, who has been married three times but has countless illegitimate children all over the surrounding area, the boys distinctive because of the white streak, the girls are not so afflicted.  He is owner of Highbanks Hall and notorious not just for his womanising but for all of his other vices (the usual drinking, gambling, wild parties and general debauchery). Then, in 1850 Thomas Mallen is ruined and is turfed out of Highbanks Hall and into a comparatively small cottage with his two wards (nieces), their governess and a servant.


This is easily read but it's well written;  the characters ring true and three dimensional as does the descriptions of farming life in the 1800's.  There are two rapes but although clear what is happening it's not described in a salacious manner.  


This first one was the first novel of Cookson's that sold a million copies and led to the next two.


It's been such along time since I last read them I had no idea what was coming next.  I love these novels and they will always have a place on my shelf.



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I like some Catherine Cookson books but I found the stories became too samey and I kind of went off her. The formula generally went along the lines of young working class victorian girl gets raped by rich victorian brute and has his baby. There are some different stories but they all generally revolve around this premise.


As for the High Banks query, the majority of her stories are set in the North East of England, around Newcastle, North/South Shields, Hebburn and Jarrow area. Some locations are real and some are made up but you can generally work out roughly where she was talking about and make an educated guess as to where the made up places were based on.


Some real historical companies are mentioned in some of her stories for example Palmers Shipyard gets a mention in a number of her books.

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i read several of Catherine Cookson's books in the 1960s &70s. I did enjoy them but, like Apple, found that they became a bit 'samey' after a time and moved on to other things. I read several of the Mary Ann series, and some of the stand alone novels

I definitely watched the TV version of the Mallem Streak, but at this distance in time I can't remember if I actually read the books. 


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Yes they do tend to get a bit samey, however I think the Mallen series is probably the best thing she wrote.  I remember the TV series well!  there was a period when a lot of her books were adapted for TV, and a lot of well known actors had some early roles in them, they were certainly solid dramas.

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