The Enid Blyton Society
The Twins at St Clare's
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Book Details...

First edition: 1941
Publisher: Methuen
Illustrator: W. Lindsay Cable
Category: St Clare's
Genre: School
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Reviews by Terry Gustafson and Jo Chambers
Further Illustrations


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1981 edition, illustrated by Hilda Offen
Terry Gustafson's Review

Identical twins, Patricia and Isabel O'Sullivan, begin their secondary school education on a sour note. They want to attend Ringmere — a kind of Roedean clone where their good friend Frances has been enrolled but Mr ... Mrs O'Sullivan are under the impression their daughters have acquired a certain amount of snobbishness from the last school they attended (Redroofs) and have opted for St Clare's which they view as a Sensible establishment. The twins' decision regarding this outrageous deviation in their lives is that they will turn their noses up at anyone and everything and show the other girls that they are Somebodies — And Don't You Forget It!! After all they were head-girls at their old school and the decided opinion (Pat's admittedly) is that she and Isabel are good at nearly everything as well as being pretty and amusing. I find that statement pretty amusing because people who call themselves pretty and amusing are often ugly and boring. Fortunately for the O'Sullivan Twins, they are essentially success-driven which is a quality inherited, no doubt, from their Sensible parents.

Pat, Isabel, and You, and I, are introduced to many interesting characters who accompany us through the different chapters and continue on to greater heights in subsequent books. True to their word, the twins set out to be Somebodies but they are enveloped in a world of Beings who are multi-cultural, multi-talented, multi-moneyed, and who possess multi-backgrounds. It looks as if they will end up more as Nobodies because they're pretty hopeless at even the simplest of tasks such as the cleaning of a senior girl's boots and even making her a cup of char. Well ... after all, it's pretty degrading to expect two former head girls who were also ex-tennis and hockey captains to end up as common fags.

From a bad beginning which includes a fight with one of the teachers, the twins' better sides become apparent and they begin blending a little and enjoying the reactions of their educators to the japes of one irrepressible girl in their class. As in our own schools there are some extremely talented students at St Clare's and you will be amazed by their prowess. There is a class-clown and a brilliant one at that. You'll meet her. Pat and Isabel even attend an enormous birthday supper which includes such delicacies as sardines, a pork pie, a cake with almond icing surrounded with sugar-roses, peppermint creams, and to make it more exciting it takes place at 12a.m — (yes a.m) and it's all strictly against the rules but who cares?

If you read this book first and continue on with the others in the right order you'll enjoy a well planned and fascinating insight into the lives of selected girls and their instructors all relating to one another through the trials and tribulations of school life. You will personally meet the characters involved and because they have been created by the world's greatest author — Enid Blyton, they will be alive. Rub shoulders with them and become a friend or an enemy. As the students do, you will gauge the teachers — some good, some bad and some mediocre. In a school story we want more than just a report on how the little darlings swotted and passed exams and went to church. No! We want to experience run-ins with the tutors and we wish to condemn those girls who rub us up the wrong way. We'd like to witness innovative tricks and jokes played on Those In Charge by rapscallions who are adept and speaking of tricks and jokes ... two names come to mind instantly. If you like, you can find out who they are.

Mam'zelle! What on earth is a Mam'zelle? If you're French or maybe English, you probably know but the avid readers of Enid Blyton books in a host of countries right round the world will also find out and even relate to this extraordinary character.

There is a sports tournament naturally and the excitement it generates near the end affected even me — and I'm not into sport at all! Then there are the students with seemingly insurmountable problems not to mention a teacher who is also facing a crisis. We learn of a secret and forbidden outing by our heroes which naturally becomes un-secret further on and results in Consequences. One student is found to have an undeclared possession. What could it be? There are quarrels, more fun and games, and near the end of term Isabel faces a tasking time.

Overall, this first of this series shows that the O'Sullivan spirit is present and previously undiscovered qualities could emerge which might catapult the twins into higher stratospheres — but that's another tale to be told.
Moose's Review

In this first book of the St Clare's series we are introduced to Pat and Isabel O'Sullivan, the heroines of the series. In common with other Blyton school series, the twins join the school when the rest of their first form class mates have already been there a couple of terms and hence have to struggle to make their mark.

Pat and Isabel resent going to St Clare's because they consider it to be not 'swanky' enough for their tastes. Their friends are going to a more exclusive school and the girls make up their minds to hate St Clare's and to act badly there. They put this plan into action as soon as they arrive by setting out to be disagreeable and are soon labelled 'the stuck up twins'. They are horrified when they learn that they expected to wait on the upper forum girls and do their chores and they both refuse to do so.

Isabel, however, who is the less forthright sister, soon caves in and agrees to do chores for Belinda Towers, the sports captain. Her twin is disgusted to find that she has done this and refuses to help. Isabel therefore concocts a plan in which she will pretend to be Pat and do Pat's share of the chores as well.

This plot comes undone when Belinda Towers, spotting Pat's talent for hockey, puts her into a match team. Pat's sense of decency comes to her rescue and she owns up to her deception to Belinda. Belinda is impressed by her honesty and puts her into the match team anyway. This incident is instrumental in the twins' decision to behave decently from then on.

Meanwhile the twins get to know the other girls in their form. There is the forthright Janet, the steady Hilary, the shy Kathleen and the snobbish Sheila. The latter of these two provide the main 'lessons' of the book, with Kathleen emerging as a thief who steals to earn friendship and Sheila a girl from a poor family made good who is unsure of how to act in her new social position and consequently over-acts. The term ends with both of these girls settling down as integrated members of the form.

Along the way this first term the twins encounter a mistress who can't keep order and a lost and injured puppy dog which causes some fun. By the end of the term they have settled into school and are doing well and regretting their earlier behaviour. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.