. . . my views
At School with the Stanhopes is, I think, Gwendoline Courtney's best book. All of her books have elements of humour but this one is laugh out loud (even in company) sort of funny. But better than just being a funny story about a village school run by two sisters (mainly to educate their three younger sisters), it is a really lovely account of a girl (Rosalind) learning to live with her much older brother (Richard) who is almost a stranger - and him learning about her!
There is a marvellous cast of supporting characters: Henry, the house-keeper - cum - gardener - cum - general-factotum who 'doesn't hold with girls'; the Irrepressibles (the younger Stanhope sisters) who take Henry in hand; David, the sick friend to both Richard and Rosalind - all marvellously real.
There's drama when one of the girls is attacked by a drunk and Henry and Jackie (a school fellow from the Stanhope's school) come to the rescue. And because Henry is injured, Rosalind must run the household and eventually manages to impress her brother with this ability. (A skill taught at the Stanhope's school, of course.)
There's dress-ups when historian Richard inspires in the school an interest in the eighteenth century and the girls put on a play.
There's sport at the school in the form of fencing, taught by Richard, who finds in his sister a useful sparring partner.
And finally there is a duel (caused by the Irrepressibles living up to their name), causing the breach in the school to be healed.
This book has all the classic girl's story elements in a warm, funny package that
makes me think that this book is Gwendoline Courtney's best work.
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