Val Forrest in the Fifth by Evelyn Smith


This school story from the 1920s is a bit different in that it turns out that the baddie is neither another girl at the school nor some weirdo who’s been hanging around, but Val’s guardian.  Val and her widowed mother have lost their money in a banking collapse, and, for some odd reason, this has prompted the mother to go and stay with friends in Montreal, leaving Val with an old schoolfriend of hers.

Val starts at a nearby school, and nothing out of the ordinary actually happens at the school – there are no princesses, no spies and no thieves!   Just a few complications over who’s friends with whom.  However, things keep going wrong for Val.  She’s made to give up a good part in the school play, accused of starting a fire, and put in an awkward position with people who seem to have been given the wrong impression of her.  She’s also got no money.

It turns out that the person with whom she’s living has been stealing the money sent for her keep, and making life difficult for her with everyone else, as well as sacking the maid with whom Val had got friendly.  This is supposedly because she was jealous of Val’s mum when they were at school.  It’s not a very convincing storyline, but it’s quite a readable book, Val herself is an extremely likeable character and it’s a good depiction of school life.  Not bad!


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