With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child many of us are returning to read the original Harry Potter series and this got us thinking about all our favourite books set in schools. Long a favourite narrative backdrop of authors, these books take us back to our school days… or remind us how glad that they’re now far behind us!
Take, Prep, described by the Observer as “the OC meets Donna Tartt’s The Secret History with flashes of Clueless”… Lee is fourteen when she goes to an exclusive boarding school in Massachusetts, a minefield of unstated rules and incomprehensible social rituals. Clever, astute and very perceptive.
Another boarding school title, but this time set in rural Western Australia. In the classic The Young Desire It, fifteen-year-old Charles Fox is sent away to boarding school, innocent, alone and afraid.. But when Charles meets Margaret, a girl staying at a nearby farm for the holidays, he is besotted, and a passionate, unforgettable romance begins.
Looking for Alibrandi is a modern Australian classic, and rightly so. Josie is in her final year of school in Sydney, navigating meeting her father for the first time, finding out the truth about her family, working out how her Italian heritage fits in, and falling in love. Moving, revealing and honest.
Enid Blyton appreciated a good school setting, with series such as The Twins at St Clare’s, Malory Towers, and the Naughtiest Girl in the School all set in boarding schools. Guaranteed to make any reader yearn for a midnight feast!
The Secret History is a remarkable novel. Under the guidance of their professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a new way of thinking about the world. But a life changing event will make them question all they know about morality. Profound, insightful and absolutely recommended.
Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, Maurice is a highly personal novel by E.M. Forster. Written in 1914, this novel was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy.
In Matilda by the inimitable Roald Dahl, we have the extremely intelligent (and a little bit magical) Matilda, and two very different teachers – the lovely Miss Honey, and the frankly quite terrifying Miss Trunchbull. Perfect for readers young or old.
When Nicholas Nickelby’s father dies he and his family are left penniless. To earn his keep, Nicholas becomes a tutor at Dotheboys Hall but soon discovers that the headmaster, Wackford Squeers, is a one eyed tyrant who insists on a harsh regime. Social injustice and comic genius make for a compelling read.
Never Let Me Go is narrated by a now older Kathy, dealing with her childhood spent at Hailsham School, where things are not quite what they seem. A novel of love, friendship and memory, this is a haunting book, a 1984 for the bioengineering age.
From the author of The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska was John Green’s debut novel. Miles Halter is fascinated with famous last words – and also tired of his boring and lonely life. He goes to boarding school, and there he meets Alaska, and realises how much of a profound impact a person can have on another.