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Book Title: The Best House in the School|
The author of the book: Dorita Fairlie Bruce
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 835 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.4
Edition: Oxford University Press
Date of issue: 1951
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
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A stirring tale of the girls of Springdale School in which Peggy Willoughby took over as Captain of the Rowans house as her friend and former captain Diana Stewart needed time off to study for an important examination on which her continued presence at the school depended.
Peggy was determined to win the Banner of Merit, awarded to the best house who caused the least trouble throughout the school year. She instils her requirements into the prefects of Rowans, who pass it on down to the juniors, and she particularly warns Rae Merchiston, who for some strange reason had defected from the Larches house to join Rowans. Peggy felt that she needed to single out Rae as she had a reputation for disobeying school directives and in addition she was unsure what Rae's motives were for joining Rowans.
There was also a problem with the sports captain as Diana had stood down from that job, too. Sydney Carter was appointed but it was not a tremendously popular appointment because some of the girls felt that she had particular favourites and that they would take precedence over others when teams were selected. However, with the intervention of Peggy, the selection of sports teams turned out to be quite a success.
Having set the ground rules, Peggy was disturbed early on in the term to discover that some Fourth Formers had broken curfew and she herself had discovered them in the grounds after it had been time to be settled in their dormitories. The reason that they were out and about was that one of their friend's had a cat and he, named Dante Gabriel Rossetti, had dashed out of an open window and they did not want it to be out all night. So they set about trying to find it and take it back to the dormitory. They eventually did so but only after Peggy had discovered their indiscretion; she gave them lines and stopped their sweets for the week!
Then there was trouble over team selection for the cricket match, which caused an incident between the girls and this was followed by a serious breach by the newcomer to Rowans, Rae. There was a dance hosted by a former pupil at Rowans, Dimsie Maitland, and Peggy had been invited so she arranged with the headmistress, Miss Kerr, that she could attend. But Rae was also invited by some close friends and she was determined to attend despite the night-time curfew on all the girls.
Rae waited until lights out and then quietly dressed in her ball gown and sneaked out, hoping that she would get back later through an open window. Of course, once at the ball she was spotted by Peggy who took her to task and told her that she had cost Rowans the chance of winning the Banner because Miss Kerr had already stressed that any serious indiscretion would automatically disqualify the house to which the errant girl had belonged from competing.
Peggy told Rae she must confess her sin to Miss Kerr and she left her to sort out her conscience as to whether she would do so or not; Peggy herself promised not to spill the beans on her. And, indeed, it was Peggy who managed to smuggle Rae back into the dormitory because all the windows and doors were securely locked.
Eventually the truth came out in an unexpected way and Miss Kerr kept her promise that any house not playing by the rules would be ejected from the competition for the Banner, so Rowans paid the penalty for the error of their ways. However, in a discussion between Miss Kerr and Peggy, the former told the latter that even though Rowans would not win the Banner, she did think, because of all the effort that the girls had put in, that Rowans was undoubtedly the best house in the school. This mollified Peggy and pleased all the other prefects and members of the house, so they were not too disappointed at not winning the Banner of Merit.
Peggy and Rae had a heart-to heart discussion the result of which was that Rae would return to her original house, the Larches, the following term. And she was determined that Rowans would then win the coveted Banner of Merit to display in their hall.
There is plenty more intrigue, rivalry and petty jealousies in the story, involving all of the girls, all of which make it an amusing, sometimes gripping and eminently readable tale.
The abiding thought I had on the book was, 'Could it succeed today?' Good though it is, I very much doubt it for stories of girls' boarding schools and the antics of those attending do not seem to take the interest that they did in the 1930s - pity for it is such fun.
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Read information about the authorDorothy Morris Fairlie Bruce was born in 1885, in Palos, Spain, the daughter of Scots civil engineer Alexander Fairlie Bruce, and his wife, Katherine Elizabeth Fairbairn. Soon after her birth, the family returned to Scotland, and Bruce spent her early childhood in Blanefield, on the Campsie Hills, Stirling. The family moved to Ealing, West London, in 1895, where Bruce would live until 1949.
Educated at Clarence House in Roehampton - a boarding school she would use as the model for the Jane Willard Foundation, in her "Dimsie" books - Bruce, who was unmarried, devoted much of her middle adulthood to caring for her invalid mother, and helping to raise her brother's three children, after his death. She was actively involved with the Girls Guildry, an organization similar to the Girl Guides, serving at President of the Guildry's West London Centre, in the 1930s. Upon the death of her own father, in 1949, Bruce returned to Scotland, buying a house in Upper Skelmorlie, in North Ayeshire, where she lived until her death in 1970.
Bruce is primarily remembered as the author of the nine-book "Dimsie" series, which began with The Senior Prefect, originally published in 1921, and then reissued in 1925 as Dimsie Goes to School, and continued through Dimsie Carries On, published in 1941. Other works include the "Nancy books," the six-volume "Springdale" series, the "Toby books," and the "Sally books." Although 1921 marked the appearance of her first book, Bruce had been publishing stories and poems in magazines and annuals for fifteen years, at that point, and continued to do so.
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