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Septima at School by Evelyn Smith
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Septima at School (1925)

by Evelyn Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Queen Anne's (2)

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Following upon Seven Sisters at Queen Anne’s, Septima at School is the second in a trilogy detailing the adventures of "the long family of Shortt" - seven sisters who attend the same school. But although Gwen and Sylvie appear briefly at the beginning, Pamela at the end, and Phyllida and Gerry intermittently, this is really the story of Septima and Tony, and the various mishaps they fall into, their second year at Queen Anne's.

From getting her finger stuck in the spout of a tea-kettle during a "secret" picnic breakfast, to convincing her elder that a burglar is intent on entering their dorm late one night, Septima is as much trouble as always, and Tony could be forgiven for exclaiming, at one point: "Life would be a lot simpler if it weren't for looking after you, Septima." It was the incident with the tea-kettle that led Tony to accidentally purloin a bell-handle, a worrisome circumstance that resulted in a number of exciting events involving Borzoi puppies, the kidnapping of a great big brown mutt (named Curly, as it transpired), and a surprising discovery after a most unusual entrance through the rotting roof of an old shed...

After my immense enjoyment of Evelyn Smith's first Queen Anne's book, I confess to finding Septima at School something of a letdown. It was enjoyable enough, particularly for fans of the girls' school story, and there were certainly moments of humor, as when Septima reflects upon Tony's act of kidnapping, wondering in confusion: "What did she want with a human being? Surely there were enough of them at home." I could have lived without the casual reference to the song "The Ten Little N*ggers," although such anachronistic social content is not wholly unexpected in a work published in the 1920s.

But the real weakness here was the (relative) absence of Septima and Tony's sisters, particularly fierce Phyllida and Gerry, whose pitched battles gave the first book such flavor; as well as the lack of real narrative tension. The "mystery" surrounding the terrace house simply isn't engrossing (or mysterious) enough to compensate for the lack of any schoolgirl villain or rival. Cliched as they may be, I've discovered that such plot devices do seem to make for a more satisfying school-story. Still, this was a pleasant and enjoyable read, for all that it was not quite the equal of the first, and I look forward to reading the third and final installment of the series, Phyllida in Form III. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 17, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Evelyn Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coller, H.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Following upon Seven Sisters at Queen Anne's, Septima at School is the second in a trilogy detailing the adventures of "the long family of Shortt"- seven sisters who attend the same school. But although Gwen and Sylvie appear briefly at the beginning, Pamela at the end, and Phyllida and Gerry intermittently, this is really the story of Septima and Tony, and the various mishaps they fall into during their second year at Queen Anne's. From getting her finger stuck in the spout of a tea-kettle during a "secret" picnic breakfast to convincing her sister that a burglar is intent on entering their dorm late one night, Septima is as much trouble as always, and Tony could be forgiven for exclaiming, at one point: "Life would be a lot simpler if it weren't for looking after you, Septima." It was the incident with the tea-kettle that led Tony to purloin a bell-handle, a worrisome circumstance that resulted in a number of exciting events involving Borzoi puppies, the kidnapping of a big brown mutt, and a surprising discovery after a most unusual entrance through the rotting roof of an old shed...
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