Forty years after the first two Vivians book were published, Patricia Caldwell returned to the series and wrote four further books. Long overdue sequels aren’t always a good idea, but in our opinion these later books take the series from strength to strength and have an increased depth and maturity that makes these very satisfying books to read. Patricia Caldwell is especially good at taking a well-established school situation – the arrival of the shy new girl, a prefect’s problems with disciplines or a school argument, say – and looking at it from an absolutely fresh angle, avoiding the usual clichés of the school story and bringing a real sense of rounded, true-to-life people to her stories.
The sequels were privately published by Patricia in the 1990s and 2000s. Tig Thomas, who has worked in children’s book publishing for over 20 years and who has recently edited Margaret Biggs’ Kate at Melling and Changes at Melling as well as the non fiction True to the Trefoil and Monica Edwards The Authorised Biography, is editing the sequels for publication by GGBP. Patricia Caldwell would have preferred GGBP to start with these newer – and better – titles, but we felt you needed to know the Vivians story from the beginning. Hence, we have begun the series with Prefects at Vivians and Head Girl at Vivians (essential reading to know the story).
Patricia has worked in close conjunction with Tig and has changed Strangers and in addition has written a short story to go with it. The school has to cope with the arrival of a large number of girls from a school which has recently closed down. The inevitable feud develops, splitting the school, much to the teachers’ dismay. The ingenious ways some girls use to fight it are far from predictable and its resolution is both thought-provoking and plausible. In another strand of the story, Eva Mihaly, a young girl who has escaped from her native Hungary, settles into school life and offers a startling new perspective on freedom which helps some of the girls come to their senses.