My Lockdown Books: Nine

Now this one really is random.  Either Mum or I picked it up in a charity shop somewhere many years ago.  There’s nothing special or noteworthy about it but I have kept it all these years and it has survived house moves and  shelf culls.

It’s fairly standard school story fare.  Chester House is the weakest house in the school, looked down on by the other houses and despised by some of the other House Captains, partly because it’s for day girls rather than boarders.  Alison is appointed as the new Captain of Chester House and sets to work on improving the situation.  There’s some resistance amongst the older girls but the Middles mean to support her.  They mean to support her but somehow their efforts don’t always succeed.

Chester House Wins Through by Irene Smith was published the year I was born so some of the fictional girls would still have been at school when I started.  It has a slightly more modern feel than many school stories of this type but, even as a child, it felt dated to me.  But I really enjoyed it.

I know nothing about Irene Smith and have nothing else she wrote.  If anyone can fill in these blanks for me I’d love to hear from you.

11th December

Clare Mallory was a New Zealander who wrote books for children and teenagers in the 1940s and 1950s.  I came across her books fairly recently and immediately enjoyed them.  Many of them are school stories but the schools tend to be much more relaxed than their British contemporaries although they do have much in common. My favourite of Clare Mallory’s novels is Juliet Overseas.  It concerns a girl who is sent halfway around the world to attend her mother’s old school in England.  In a typical school story plot, the tone of the school is not all it might be and Juliet takes it upon herself to effect an improvement.  Of course she succeeds but reading about how she does it is entertaining and even thought-provoking.  Juliet is an engaging character, fairly self-sufficient but keenly aware that the customs of New Zealand are not those of home – as England is always referred to – and anxious not to trample on sensitivities, whilst at the same time being impatient with the unwillingness to change displayed by some of her contemporaries.

I love a Regency romance and one of my favourite writers in the genre is Julia Quinn. She’s American but she manages to hide that pretty well in her use of language and, unusually for American-penned novels of the genre, there are very few jarring notes in her writing. Her series of books about the Bridgerton family is good fun.  The characters are likeable and varied and over the series Julia builds up a great picture of their family life.  Each of the children has a book describing his or her courtship and these stories are all quite different. I like Colin’s story, Romancing Mr Bridgerton, best of all.  He’s an urbane young man, intelligent, witty and attractive but with a deep seam of insecurity.  The heroine of the piece is Penelope Featherington, old enough to be considered an irredeemable spinster but hiding an explosive secret.  It’s funny, romantic, sexy and great escapism!