Bobby at Hill House by Margaret Biggs


This is another one-off school story from Margaret Biggs.  It’s a collection of tropes of the genre; but they’re put together very well, and the characters all come across very well.

We’ve got:

  1. The girl who’s known by a boyish “short” – our heroine is Bobby, short for Roberta.
  2.  The girl who’s sent away to school due to a change of circumstances at home – Bobby’s guardian gets married, and his wife decides that she can’t cope with looking after a teenage girl.   Unusually, with fictional boarding schools usually being in the countryside, Bobby is sent from Cornwall to London: Hill House is in Highgate.
  3.  The new headmistress who shakes things up – Miss Bennett relaxes a lot of rules and gives the girls more choices in what they do.
  4. The girl who thinks she’s a cut above the others – Julia’s family have been involved with Hill House from the start, and she isn’t impressed by the changes.
  5. The girl from a poor background who thinks that others will judge her as a result – this is Stephanie, known (see plot point 1) as Steve rather than as Steph or Stephie.  Mind you  Stevie Nicks isn’t Steph or Stephie either, but the book predates Fleetwood Mac!
  6.  The girl with no confidence, who turns out to be absolutely brilliant at something  – this is Davida, known (see plot point 1 again!) as Davey, who turns out to be a brilliant pianist.
  7. The unexpected long-lost eelationship – it turns out that Miss Bennett and Bobby’s guardian’s wife are old schoolfriends who have lost touch.
  8. The nasty teacher – Miss Merton, who eventually leaves.
  9. The teacher who marries a pupil’s widowed father – Miss Bennett gets together with Julia’s dad.
  10. The childhood sweetheart – it’s hinted that Bobby will eventually marry Flip (Philip), John’s other ward … which is a bit icky because, although there’s no blood relationship, they’ve grown up together as siblings.
  11. The happy ending – everyone starts to get on.

That sounds as if I’m being sarcastic.  I’m really not.  It’s a lovely book, and the tropes are all fairly realistic ones – no-one turns out to be a princess in disguise, or runs away and falls over a cliff, or anything like that!    Not bad at all.



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