As it stands Second Form at St Clare’s is probably my favourite one that I’ve read so far of the St Clare’s series. The funny thing is that again, like with Summer Term at St Clare’s, the twins do not seem to feature much in the story.
They are the basis for the story true enough, and each term seems to at least start with them but it never continues very far into the story with them as the central characters. In fact, I do forget that the twins are supposed to be the main characters with everyone else bustling about. I suppose it seems a bit odd to me, not having read the books before now and believing them to be all about the O’Sullivan twins, and in reality they’re not really. The St Clare’s books are more about the school and the other girls than the twins, after the first two books anyway.
This is the fourth book out of six that Blyton wrote, three books have been written my Pamela Cox subsequently to fill in the gaps (the third and sixth forms and one standalone.)
Anyway Second Form at St Clare’s sees the O’Sullivan twins and their friends head up to the second form from the first, without a few characters. For example spiteful Prudence from the last book has gone away and Pam, the quiet girl has stayed in the first form because she’s too young. Prudence was the source of all the mischeif in the second form, and fret not, the spiteful position has been filled by Elsie, a second former who has not gone up to the third form with her fellow classmates. She makes up one of the “new” girls along with Anna, who is described as lazy and fat (though I have the idea that anyone in Blyton’s books is called fat if they were just on the little chubby side!)
These two are made heads of the second form, and Elsie is quite quick to think that she will rule the new second formers with a iron hand and make them do all she wants them to. Unfortunately she doesn’t reckon to quite a few strong personalities in the new second form and soon the girls take things into their own hands when Elsie’s spiteful nature gets the better of her when it comes to punishing one of the new new girls, Mirabel. The girls vote to only listen to Anna as head girl, and this galvanises the “lazy” Anna into action and makes her a jolly decent head girl.
Once again in the second form the two newest girls make up most of the story line. Mirabel arrives a week late to St Clare’s because she simply didn’t want to come, and Gladys starts off as a very withdrawn character who has a big secret to hide, and later on in the story reveals all and she begins to come out of her shell a bit.
These two new girls are very chalk and cheese, but they make for interesting reading. They’re almost the same as Margery Fenworthy and Lucy Oriell from the O’ Sullivan twins, one big, one small, but they become the closest of friends like Margery and Lucy do. However before they get to that point there is lots of drama.
There is another midnight feast in this book as well, as it’s Carlotta’s birthday and her father and grandmother give her money for a feast. I must say there is a strange number of odd combinations of food that go on at these midnight feasts and there always seems to be enough food for each girl to get really full on, and then they go straight back to bed! I should hate to lie down after all that food.
I think Second form at St Clare’s may be one of my favourite St Clare’s book at the moment. It’s action packed and Gladys and Mirabel make good central characters, especially when they settle down a little into St Clare’s. However I think St Clare’s does show more age than Malory Towers, there are lots of little things that make me feel the story’s age, especially with how much the girls raise for their red cross concert, which seems a little on the low side at ten pounds and fifty pence. I would like to get my hands on an earlier edition to what the money was before it was changed. (I am reading the most up-to-date volumes provided by my library as it was cheaper than buying them, but they lack the beauty of a wonderful earlier volume.) Note: Fiona has just told me the original value of the concert takings from her earlier edition and it was four pounds, three shillings and sixpence. So in a way the sum seems greatly smaller in my earlier edition than what it would have been at the original value.
I would recommend Second Form at St Clare’s quite highly, but I would warn against starting with it, if you haven’t read the three earlier books! (In my mind St Clare’s seems much more in need of being read in order that Malory Towers!)
So there you are, Second Form at St Clare’s, a jolly romp of a school term. I wonder what will happen next term!