It’s about love lives …Maggie has been dating Stan for years – safe, comfortable and about as exciting as soggy toast. Can their relationship survive? Especially when Maggie meets David McDonald, her opposite number at the boys boarding school over the hill. Every single girl in the school has a crush on him, but not Maggie …yet. It’s about school lives …Two girls. Same form. Simone Kardashian has won a scholarship and is determined to make her parents proud. Fliss Prosser is furious at being so far from home and her friends. As Simone tries desperately to fit in, Fliss tries desperately to get out. It’s about private lives …Veronica Deveral knows how to manage a school. Routine and discipline are fundamental to her role. But Veronica has a secret that could ruin her career.
I’ve been having a run of great books recently, so apologies if it appears that I’m a complete five out of fiving flatterer but this book was just fabulous.
At first I thought I wouldn’t get going with the introduction of so many characters so quickly. The fact that almost all of the characters seemed to have oddly extravagant surnames (Kardashian, Prenderghast, Prosser!) also puzzled me, but then the story kicked in and the peculiar names faded into the background and made way for what was a truly enjoyable read.
The concept of this novel was brilliant – an updated version of books such as the Malory Towers and St Clare’s series’ but with a modern twist, and more adult themes.
I adored how the novel referenced the retro boarding school books in the form of tinned fruitcakes being sent from home, general pasty faced-ness and the character of Alice TREBIZON Woods (spiteful and with a sharp tongue!), to name a few.
I especially enjoyed the characters of Maggie, a Glaswegian comprehensive school teacher who goes to teach at the Downey boarding school, and Simone – the intelligent, but unconfident scholarship girl, who were both well developed, realistic characters.
I was very excited to hear that Jane Beaton plans to write six books in this series, and can’t wait to read about what the Downey Houses get up to next.
Note – Does anyone remember the character of Alma Puddin (not sure it’s St Clare’s or Malory Towers)? She was the chubby, unpopular girl who used to hide cakes and tinned sardines in the lockers so she could eat them at night? Wouldn’t it be great if she made a re-appearance in one of Beaton’s next books – maybe as a glam new teacher?