Spine and corners bumped. Covers creased.
Val Forrest in the Fifth shows Evelyn Smith at the top of her form and fully deserves its inclusion in the Fun in the Fourth series. Her characters are alive, her dialogue sparkling and the plot genuinely interesting without being in any way implausible; her delicate humour is all her own but reminds us that John Mortimer was her nephew.
Val arrives at her mother’s old school, following the loss of family money in a bank failure which has sent her mother to live with relatives in Canada and Val to lodge with Mrs Wilby, a school-fellow of her mother’s whom she finds increasingly difficult – Mrs Wilby disapproves of all Val does, is mean with food, and generally makes Val feel a burden. However, Val finds the Fifth Form at Myra Dakin’s congenial and soon makes friends, unlike the other new girl, Aileen, who has never been to school before and handicapped by being a spoilt mother’s darling.
How Val copes with being stranded in uncongenial surroundings - which in the end prove more than uncongenial - and Aileen learns to take her proper place among her contemporaries make an intriguing story, but in the foreground is the Fifth – managing (but benevolent) Pauline, pretty Julie, gallant Corinna – and the book is very much the story of Val and Aileen within the group. Every episode, however trivial, builds up to the thoroughly satisfactory climax, and we leave Val reassured as to her future.