The Sixth Form at St. Clare’s by Pamela Cox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thanks to my local charity shop, I recently picked up a batch of the Pamela Cox fill-in titles for both St Clare’s and Malory Towers and was a bit fascinated to see what I thought of them. I’d registered that they existed but had never, quite, wanted to read them. It’s hard to quantify why I didn’t but I think it had something to do with the whole fact that, well, Enid Blyton is so resolutely Enid Blyton that thought of somebody else trying to be Enid Blyton blew my mind a little bit.
And these books do feel like they are undercover Enid Blyton titles. There’s something interesting in how Cox’s name doesn’t appear on the front and instead we see that familiar signature of Blyton’s on the cover. It feels a little like these are packaged as Blyton books rather than, say, a book written in the St Clare’s series but by another author. And that’s interesting to me. Do we buy these books as St Clare’s books, or Blyton, or Cox? What sort of pre-reading do we come to these books with; these books that both fit and don’t fit into the Blyton school story canon?
The Sixth Form at St Clare’s is one of the books that I felt a greater affinity with and that was primarily because I was already acquainted with the characters. I already loved them, really. My reading of the Malory Towers fill-ins (they’re the story of Felicity Rivers and her journey through the school) have been substantially different in that I have had to let go of the fact that I want them to be about Darrell and Sally and Alicia. I want that story. And there’s a necessary reading process of grieving for that.
So here we are with Pat and Isobel, the don’t care O’Sullivan twins, and it’s all rather lovely. There were a few plot twists which felt far too modern and a little off-canon (I found the ‘coming to the sixth form with your problems’ plot, very problematic), and certain of the new girls didn’t quite gel with the context of the series as a whole.
But I did enjoy it. I enjoyed it because I’ve always wanted this story. I’ve always wanted to know what happened – and Cox is very good at delivering that. She knows her series and she knows the motifs of it so well, Mam’zelle Dupot and Mam’zelle Rougier, Miss Potts, midnight feasts, Miss Theobald being awesome (Carlotta being awesome…). It’s a lovely book. And I think the key for my enjoyment of it was to acknowledge what it wasn’t, and understanding why it wasn’t that, and then appreciating what it was.
5 thoughts on “The Sixth Form at St Clare’s : Pamela Cox”
You know, I’m not sure whether I’ve read this or not. I own it, but nothing you’ve described sounds familiar. I’ve only read the first two of Pamela Cox’s Malory Towers continuations, so I may as well line up a full-scale reread of St Clare’s and Malory Towers. It’s not like I have anything else to do 😉
I’ve just ordered the last (latest?) Pamela Cox Malory Towers, so I’ll read them if you do 😉
I tend to agree that the St Clare’s fill-ins don’t quite fit into the Enid Blyton canon. While there are many similarities there are also differences. For instance Alison is portrayed in a much better light than she is in the original series. Also there is a tendency to use certain modern American-type phrases which don’t quite fit into a story set in the 1940s or 50s.
That’s really interesting, thank you!
In the original.series it was said that Alison.had fallen for the Head Girl in the third form but the fillin didn’t mention it. I fail to see why failing an exam would have deprived Mirabel.of the sports captaincy.