As many of you will know, Jean Estoril was one of Mabel Esther Allan’s pseudonyms. I, however, did not know that when I came across Drina Dances in Italy in this edition in Lossiemouth Library. It’s the fourth book in the Drina series so I had a bit of catching up to do but I loved the book and quickly set about finding the others. Only the first six were published in this Collins Ballet Library series and for a long time I was unaware that there were in fact another four books (at that time; an eleventh was published much later).
Drina is half Italian, half English orphan who lives with her maternal (English) grandparents. It turns out that she is in fact the daughter of a world-famous ballerina, although she only discovers this at the end of the first book. Her two sets of grandparents fought over the right to bring her up and this book sees her first meeting with her Italian grandmother.
In small ways the Drina books cross with some of the books published under Mabel Esther Allan’s own name. I remember being puzzled when the Lingeraux Ballet School and Company appeared in Black Forest Summer and later (in terms of my reading history) in Amanda Goes to Italy. I had first come across it in Drina. I have a theory that the books Amanda starts writing in Italy are a variation on the Drina books – which, I admit, is maybe far-fetched. An author putting her pseudonymous creation as fiction into another of her books, published in her own name, maybe says more about the convoluted way my mind works!