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As someone who grew up reading boarding school stories and is now a teacher, I couldn't wait to read this tale of Maggie Adair, a young teacher from Glasgow who gets a job at a top girls boarding school in Cornwall. The author effortlessly combines the children's narrative with that of the adult characters, the only book I have encountered to do so.
I think Maggie comes across as really likeable as she deals with her new job and the girls including Fliss and the shy Simone generally have great fun getting into trouble and breaking the rules. I particularly like the love triangle that is developing between Maggie, her fiance Stan and the dashing English teacher from the boys school over the hill.
This is easy reading but it keeps you interested and wanting to know what happens next all the way through. I particularly like the fact that the poems Maggie uses in her lessons are included in the back of the book.
A great new approach to the traditional boarding school story which left wishing I could get a job teaching in a top boardimg school in Cornwall!
The secret diary of a teacher in turmoil.
This is Jane Beaton's first novel in what I guess to be a series in the making as Rule's is already published. At the time of writing this review I can not find any information on the Author.
The book is nice looking a peachy coloured cover with pink and purple metallic flowers on (illustration by Sarah Coleman) It has got a couple of comments on the front and back by other Authors and a good blurb outlining the story. The book is 275 pages long which is just right.
The story is based around 25 year old Maggie Adair an English Teacher at a Scottish Comprehensive School who is accepted for a job at Downey House an exclusive all girls' school in Cornwall. Maggie believes that she will learn a lot at Downey House and then be able to apply it to her teaching methods in Comprehensive Schools. Maggie is under the impression that private schooled children will be better behaved and have a better attitude to learning.
The next main character is Simone Kardashian a very hard working scholarship child. Simone is from an immigrant background her dad gave up a good job in Romania to move his family to England so Simone and her brother Joel would have a better chance in life. Simone struggles to fit in as she is overweight and obviously not as well off as the other girls.
Fliss Prosser is our next main character her elder sister Hattie is a prefect so Fliss who does not really want to go to Downey House has a lot to live up to. Fliss has already decided to make trouble and under achieve so her parents bring her back home.
Veronica Deverall is the Headmistress of Downey House and right from the start we can see she has a secret as she is very worried about an upcoming school audit.
Maggie has got a long term Boyfriend called Stan who she has been with since college. Stan is opposed to Maggie taking the job and does not understand why she needs to do it.
The love interest in the book comes in the form of David McDonald the English Master at the nearby boys' school. All the girls have crushes on him and so does Maggie.
The auditors are Pat and Liz who are horrible people. They believe that Downey House could be improved by following the lead of Comprehensive schools. About halfway through the book a new Auditor turns up his name is Daniel this only adds to the mystery of Veronica Deverall.
Maggie clashes with Pat and Liz when they sit in on her class while she is auditioning girls for the school Christmas concert. The concert is where Fliss puts into action her plan to be expelled from school and Simone begins to shine. Unfortunately for Fliss the plan goes horribly wrong and she ends up falling off stage.
All the time this is happening Maggie is conflicted by her feelings for Stan and David.
Simone is accused of stealing and even though she is innocent she has trouble proving it to every one. When what is thought to be proof if Simone's behaviour turns up Simone is heart broken and runs away onto the moors in the snow. A search is launched but Maggie and David are the one's who find her. It is finally proven to be another girl who was stealing and Simone is welcomed back with a story to tell of her rescue she discovers popularity.
Fliss finally settles down into school life and becomes friends with Simone. Maggie is even more conflicted when David makes his feelings for her clear. Fliss, Simone and a girl called Alice team up and pull a prank that will go down in Downey House history and the girls become a happy threesome.
The school year finally ends with all the characters sorting out there differences but leaves a bit of a cliff hanger to start the next book with.
At the back of the book are the poems that Maggie used in her class room and other characters mention through out the book. There is also a small afterward by the author and the first chapter of her next book Rules. This makes for a nice way to conclude the book.
This book is a light hearted take on boarding school life but mostly from an adult perspective. The book does try to tackle issues on the class divide, the differences in Public and Private schooling without being too heavy. I would say this book is aimed at mid teenage girls. Quite a good read but its not going to win any prizes. I will read the second part if I get a chance. I also thought that the description of David McDonald sounded a bit like David Tennant Who's name is actually David McDonald too. Coincidence? I don't think it is.
All ratings and comments are welcome.
I was looking to read something other then the standard chic lit, and was pleasantly surprised to find this book lurking on the shelves of my local WHSmith. A debut novel, I didn't know what to expect, but the book itself was unusual and tempting, and the story looked gripping.
This book features Maggie, a teacher who has been dating her boyfriend Stan forever, and is very happy in her safe, boring relationship....until she meets the heart throb head teacher of the boarding school over the hill. She isn't the only one whose feelings are in a knot, though, as school girls Simone and Fliss battle for scholarships and friends, and head teacher Veronica tries to rule the school while battling a secret that could ruin her career.
I've never read a book that creates such mesmerising, likeable and realistic characters and employs them is such a beautiful storyline, and I read the whole book in two days. The story is gripping, and you'll find yourself rooting for the characters, and willing them to do the right thing. The book has a very useful character list at the start, which would be very helpful if you tend to leave long periods between reading, and there isn't any boring bits.
I can't wait to read the sequel!
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'd not heard of Jane Beaton's debut novel Class apart from reviews on fantasticfiction.co.uk that other authors had written. However I saw this in the bookswap and thought: Why not? The cover is beautiful and I liked the sound of the blurb on the back.
Was it as good as all the authors have said? In a word, yes. It was a fantastic read full of all kinds of likeable characters. Even those that start off mean end up likeable. I have no idea how accurate the descriptions of boarding school are as the only boarding school novels I've read were Harry Potter.
We get a handy list of all characters in the beginning of the book but the main characters were: Maggie Adair, Veronica Deverly, Felicity (Fliss) Prosser and Simone Kardashian. There was mention of the other teachers and students but those were the main four.
We follow all of the characters through a full schooling year and cut out of the book is all of the filler, we're straight to the point and find out what goes on in the mind of the girl who doesn't want to be there (Fliss) and the girl who won a Scholarship to get there but is still unhappy (Simone) as well as the secret the headteacher carries around (Veronica) and the infatuation a teacher has with a fellow, Downey Boys, teacher (Maggie).
It's written beautifully and doesn't leave out any of the four characters at all and Jane manages to capture both teenage angst and adult angst perfectly.
When I first saw the list of characters at the beginning of the book I panicked wondering how I would remember them all throughout the book so it was a welcome surprise only a few were main and the rest were just used sparingly. I enjoyed Mademoiselle Claire Crozier, the French teacher with a secret and loved David McDonald, the aforementioned teacher Maggie becomes slightly infatuated with. I also loved his sideick dog, Stephen Daedalus.
As well as it being an enjoyable read, Jane manages to use references to the now - Sophie Kinsella, Lisa Jewell, LOST and even Nicolas Sarkozy! I love when authors do that - we'll be reading about Twitter next...
Overall I really enjoyed the book and it was left perfectly to pick up for the second year of Downey House which - unfortunately - has been pushed back from an August 2009 release to a 2010 release... I can't wait that long!