The St. Clare's novels are a series of six books by Enid Blyton following twins Pat and Isabel through the titular British Boarding School. A lot of the characters are very similar to those in the Malory Towers series.The original books were written from 1941 to 1945, but recently three additions to the series have been made by Pamela Cox - The Third Form at St. Clare's and The Sixth Form at St. Clare's in 2000, and Kitty at St. Clare's in 2007. However, they aren't particularly convincing as authentic portrayals of Forties life. The original books are as follows:
The Twins at St. Clare's
The O'Sullivan Twins
Summer Term at St. Clare's
Second Form at St. Clare's
Claudine at St. Clare's
Fifth Formers at St. Clare's
Excellent summaries and other information can be found here.
Contains examples of:
Aesop Amnesia: Basically every girl who has a major role in more than one book. Angela learns to not be such an Alpha Bitch in Claudine, but is right back to her old behaviour in Fifth Formers. Alison, though she does become more assertive and less air-headed overall, never stops foolishly idolizing more glamorous girls. Mirabel learns not to be so gruff and antagonistic in Second Form, but then pushes everyone around in her role as games captain in Fifth Formers.
All of the Other Reindeer: There's usually at least one in each book. They come with a big helping of Unfortunate Implications, because quite often it's someone who's quiet, reserved, or who doesn't want to hang out with everyone else. It's not always a new kid, often it's someone who gets held back from moving onto the next form. Some examples:
Prudence from Summer Term At St Clare's, but that one was justified because she was extremely holier-than-thou and didn't hesitate to spread rumours or talk shit about anyone she didn't like.
Elsie, Gladys and Mirabel from The Second Form At St Clare's. Elsie was spiteful and thought she could boss everyone around- OK, fine. But Gladys was ignored because she was always miserable and very quiet, and nobody bothered to ask why, or they would have learned that she had an extremely good reason to be sad. A few times, someone asked her, but mostly they just ignored her, referring to her as "Misery-girl". Way to go there. Mirabel was initially written off by the others as 'spoiled' and 'peevish' because she outright stated that she didn't want to be there and wouldn't fit in. To be fair, Mirabel did her best to make life difficult for everyone in protest, but at no point did anyone try to see her side of things, or consider that being sent to boarding school for months without a say in the matter is by no means a minor issue- even the twins, who also got sent to St. Clare's without a say in the matter and should have been sympathetic.
Alma in Fifth Form At St Clare's. She's not friendly, is constantly eating due to a medical condition that no one else knows about, and gets furious whenever people call her 'Pudding' because her last name is Pudden and she's fat. Nobody tries reaching out to her, and at no point does anyone consider that maybe they shouldn't call her by a nickname she doesn't like. Really, it's no wonder that the poor girl was so unpopular when everyone was being such a dick to her.
Always Identical Twins: The titular twins, although they're not identical in personality and their classmates can easily tell them apart by the end of the series.
Ambiguously Brown: Carlotta. She is described as "dark like a gypsy", but it is never really confirmed that she is one.
Anachronism Stew: Some of the later releases of the books were extensively bowdlerized to try and make them more appealing to current generations - shillings to pounds, grandmother to grannies and so on. Particularly egregious are the more modern illustrations - the '90s versions of the books find the girls drinking from plastic lemonade bottles and wearing baggy T-shirts and Rachel haircuts, while others have them wearing shorts instead of hockey skirts and so on. Carlotta threatening to slap Angela has also been edited out.
There is another frustrating example: "sew a button on a shoe" gets turned into "sew a button on"!
Apron Matron: The school has one of these, although when she falls sick in Claudine at St. Clare's she gets replaced with a sour woman who doesn't fit this trope at all. Luckily, she returns healthy and well again at the end of the term.
Boarding School: The titular school, as well as the preparatory school (Redroofs) the twins attended before that and the posh, exclusive Ringmere School that the twins wanted to go to instead of St Clare's.
Broken Pedestal: Alison for Ms Quentin after she overhears her teacher talking about her and hears Ms Quentin describe her as akin to a little pet dog, and then learns that Ms Quentin doesn't think she has much acting talent at all and that the role she wanted is going to someone else.
Cheaters Never Prosper: In one book, Isabel accidentally comes across the answers to a prescribed test and ends up reading them. She ends up wracked by guilt, but it turns out the test was actually for another class, so she was fine (but she ended up being so relieved she screwed up some of the questions.)
Contrived Coincidence: The entire series runs on these. If someone has a secret, it will get revealed. If someone needs comeuppance, they will get it. Nobody gets away with anything.
Conviction by Contradiction: Anne-Marie gets mad at Ms Wilcox because she thinks she's a genius poet and Ms Wilcox refuses to recognise that (in reality, she's just a shitty poet). She comes up with a test to see if Ms Wilcox is capable of recognising good poetry, which consists of her submitting a poem by a famous poet (Matthew Arnold) for an assignment and seeing what Ms Wilcox says about it. Ms Wilcox calls the poem rubbish and insults it, so Anne-Marie declares that obviously, Ms Wilcox has no idea what good poetry is. Because there's no way that Ms Wilcox hadn't read and memorised every poem by Arnold. And it's not possible that maybe she read a few of Arnold's poems, decided she didn't like them and didn't bother with the rest. And of course she couldn't have genuinely thought the poem was bad, because of course teachers have to agree that every poem is good and every poet is a genius. But nobody points any of this out. To be fair, Ms Wilcox had only insulted the poem because she didn't like Anne-Marie.
Demoted to Extra: Pat and Isabel's roles gets increasingly smaller as the series progress, the focus often emphasized more on the newer students that were introduced in the book.
Disproportionate Retribution: Several cases. In The O'Sullivan Twins, Pat's knitting is ruined and she believes that Margery is responsible. The entire form decides to refuse to cheer for Margery in the upcoming lacrosse game, even though she didn't do it and won the game for them.
Maribel denies Jane Teal a spot in the lacrosse team, treats her rudely and doesn't even care when the poor child becomes very ill. All of this because Maribel had vague (and unproven) suspicions that Jane had ruined her meeting for a prank.
Drunk with Power: Angela exploits her fifth-form privileges to have first-formers do chores for her, something which is discussed and disapproved of a lot by the other characters...
"Angela sends for the young ones far too much, though," said Pat, frowning. "She and Alison make them do too many jobs. They've got a bit of power and they are using it badly."
Hilary knew that Antoinette was being very naughty about coming when she was sent for - but she knew too that Angela used the younger girls far too much. She used her prettiness and charm to make them into little slaves.
Angela gets told off for it, but it doesn't seem to help: "You're not given power to play about with and get pleasure from, Angela, as you seem to think. You're given it to use in the right way."
And then there's Mirabel. She gets a bit of this after becoming sports captain, working the younger girls way too hard and forcing them to attend constant practices, until they eventually get sick enough of her to literally go on strike and it's only Gladys' advice that stops her resigning completely.
Mirabel was tasting power for the first time as a sports captain...
Even the Girls Want Her: Angela. Even the characters without outright Les Yay for her and who recognise her shallow and often nasty nature think Angela's so beautiful she looks like a literal angel, especially her friend Alison (although she tones the open devotion down after a book or so).
Extreme Doormat: Pam, whom the nasty Prudence forces into being friends with until she finally stands up for herself.
Fat Girl: The unfortunately named Alma Pudden, who it turns out actually has a form of eating disorder.
Fear of Thunder: Several girls turn out to have this at the culmination of an outdoor midnight feast spoiled by rain.
Funny Foreigner: Several characters. Mam'zelle, the French mistress; Claudine, her niece, who comes to the school in Claudine at St Clare's; Sadie, the American girl, and to some degree, Carlotta, who has ambiguously "gypsy" or Spanish background and knew another language, all in ways so stereotypical as to be borderline racist.
Averted slightly with Claudine, though — she gradually drops the accent and has her English improve during her time at the school (unlike Mam'zelle), and on first meeting her the girls are surprised to hear her using Americanisms ("that is very okay").
Green-Eyed Monster: Jane Teal and Violet Hill have serious romantic rivalry over Angela. Angela in turn gets jealous of their affections for Mirabel.
Alison and Anne Mary spend the complete year fighting for Miss Wilcox's attention.
Gym Class Rope Climb: This trope gets a positive portrayal as the girls are awed by Carlotta's ability to swarm up the rope.
Have a Gay Old Time: The blurb for the Dragon edition of Fifth Formers at St Clare's says that for "Antoinette...The final straw was having to fag for Angela." In this context, it refers to performing menial tasks for an older girl. There's also plenty of use of "queer" to mean "strange".
Not forgetting a sixth-form girl's reaction to finding out the twins don't know how to make a fire or clean boots in the original text first book - "Goodness gracious, Pam, did you ever see such a pair of boobs?" Unsurprisingly, this was changed in later editions.
Hero-Worshipper: Many younger girls (first and second form) towards older girls (fifth and sixth forms) and some students towards some teachers.
Hot for Teacher: Alison for Miss Quentin, and later Alison and Anne-Marie for Miss Willcox.
Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Alision with first Miss Quentin and then Miss Willcox, and Anne-Marie for Miss Willcox as well. They get mocked by the other girls and called "Deirdre-fans" (after Miss Willcox's first name although it's actually the far less exotic Doris due to the fact they start dressing like her and imitating her (rather unusual) voice and mannerisms.
Mock Millionaire: Pauline, who is really from a poor family who scraped and saved to send her to school but pretends she's from an incredibly rich one, going so far as to keep a photo out of a magazine by her bed and pretending the rich people in it are her parents and telling her real mother there's been an outbreak of scarlet fever at the school to stop her coming to the half-term open day and thus people discovering the truth.
Narrative Profanity Filter: In one book, Carlotta flies into a rage and 'addressed the startled teacher with a flurry of furious words in Spanish, some of which Mam'zelle unfortunately understood'. It doesn't end well.
Non-Indicative Name: Claudine at St. Clare's is oddly named after one of the new students although she doesn't have a larger role than any of the others. The O'Sullivan Twins to a lesser extent too, since Pat and Isabel's roles are much smaller than in the first book (where this trope was averted).
Nonuniform Uniform: A school-allowed variant; the summer tunic can be made in any colour a girl chooses. Subtle differences in the quality of the cloth or how "well-made" a girl's clothes are also often pointed out as indicators of social status.
Out of Focus: The titular twins of the first and second book are only minor characters in the later ones. Generally each book focuses on a different group of girls, with only a few, like Alison, having larger roles in several of them.
Pool Scene: A midnight swim and picnic. And yes, if you've read Malory Towers many of the plots are shameless copies of the ones in there (or vice versa).*
Pushy Parents: Felicity's with her music exams, which eventually leads to her breaking down and having to give up music for a year.
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Many of the characters. Lucy and Margery, Alison and Sadie (until Spoiled Sweet Sadie returns to Eagleland), Alison and Angela, Mirabel and Gladys, Bobby and Janet, Hilary and Carlotta, Doris and Pam... the list goes on.
Serious Business: All kinds of sports are treated like this. Lacrosse and tennis are of paramount importance, and nothing like a silly injury should stop you racing up the field to score a winning goal for the Good Old Team.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The second through fourth book each have a different antagonist girl who is nasty and spiteful and tries to make life hell for other pupils: Erica in the second, Prudence in the third and Elsie in the fourth. In the fifth, Angela fulfills that role, but since she's more just arrogant and bitchy than an outright evil schemer and more integrated into the group overall, she doesn't have to leave at the end of the term and stays on for the next book.
The books did do their best to distinguish them, though- Erica was just plain mean and held grudges like hell, Prudence was a holier-than-thou princess who thought she was a model student and had a huge grudge against Carlotta because Carlotta was from a circus and was extremely popular, while Prudence, who was from a very prestigious background, was unpopular for being so uptight and bitchy. Elsie wanted to be a dictator, but everyone overthrew her easily and then she just sulked.
Teacher's Pet: Most teachers disapprove of this sort of behaviour, but Miss Willcox and Miss Quentin actively encourage it for Alison and Anne-Marie, and Mam'zelle certainly has a soft spot for her niece Claudine.
Teen Genius: Felicity at music and Lucy Oriell at pretty much everything, especially art.
Twin Switch: Pat and Isabel try this to get around one of them being punished by being forbidden to go into town.
Tyrant Takes the Helm: In Claudine At St Clare's the normal kindly matron goes off sick and is replaced by a thin, bitter woman who punishes kids she doesn't like by tearing their clothes, blaming them for it, and making them miss Games to stay in and mend them.
Unequal Pairing: Angela and the many, many first-formers that idolize her. Also the very assertive Mirabel and the very timid Gladys.
Unfortunate Names: Alma Pudden, who is fat due to an eating disorder with a medical base. Everyone calls her Pudding, which she absolutely despises.