This final book in the series takes place during their final term in the fifth form, just before they're due to go up into the Sixth.
As always, Blyton introduces a number of "new" girls into proceedings. This time however, she restricts herself to three, "musical genius" Felicity Ray who has moved up from the fourth form to the fifth, Alma Pudden, a glutton who has moved down from the sixth to the fifth & Anne-Marie Longden, a poet who's new to the school. There's also a new English teacher called Miss Willcox who both Alison & Anne-Marie think is wonderful.
One of the nice things about this book is that it's not completed dominated by the new characters as some of the previous ones have been. Angela, Mirabel & Claudine all get a decent "slice of the action".
So, what can you expect from this final book in the series?
One of the main themes of the book is abuse of power. Mirabel has been made sports captain (which frankly, is a bit of a surprise as there's nothing in "Second Form At St. Clare's" to suggest she's in any way sporty and the following book "Claudine at St. Clare's" has a few references to her swimming but that's about it), and she's determined to raise the sports standard in the school & ensure that even the third & fourth teams win all their matches. To this end she's constantly on at the girls in the younger forms to practise, practise, practise.
Angela, on the other hand, is using her power to get the girls from the lower forms to do jobs for her, even the mending that she's supposed to do herself. This is in complete contrast to "The Twins At St. Clare's" which portrays the practise as something positive in which the girls can start to learn domestic chores that they'll use in later life. However, when she gets Claudine's sister Antoinette to do some jobs for her she may well find she's bitten off more than she can chew.
Then, there's Miss Willcox who abuses her power to take Anne-Marie down a peg or two. Will Anne-Marie get her own back?
The highlight of the book is the midnight feast that's being held by the First & Second forms. They've stored their things in a cupboard near Claudine's study & need to fetch them for the feast. Unfortunately there are a lot of other people around that night. Alma's eager to snaffle a few things from the store cupboard, Anne-Marie & Felicity will both be sleep walking although only one of them will be genuine, Mirabel's on the prowl as although she's ordered that the midnight feast shouldn't take place, she thinks that the first & second forms might disobey her, & a first former called Jane Teal is trying to leave the school & get home after being pressurised by both Angela & Mirabel. Throw Mam'zelle into the mix & you have a perfect recipe for a night of hilarity.
This is another strong entry in the series &, if your child has enjoyed the rest of the books this one hits all of the same buttons. Much of the book deals with the interactions between the fifth formers & the first & second forms rather than events focussing purely on the fifth form. The book ends with a discussion & announcement of who will be head girl once they all move into the Sixth form the following term. No prizes for guessing who is picked!
The book was first published in 1945 & may, like other Blyton stories, have been updated since then. The version I have was printed in 1981. The series comprises:-
+ The Twins At St. Clare's (1941)
+ The O'Sullivan Twins (1942)
+ Summer Term At St. Clare's (1943)
+ Second Form At St. Clare's (1944)
+ Claudine At St. Clare's (1944)
+ Fifth Formers At St. Clare's (1945)
At time of writing, this book is available to buy new from Amazon for £3.49.
* Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd; New edition edition (3 Oct 2005)
* Language English
* ISBN-10: 140521984X
* ISBN-13: 978-1405219846
Used copies of the book are available from 1p.