Thursday, November 11, 2010

Grace Harlowe's Plebe Year at High School

The first book in the Grace Harlowe High School Girls Series is Grace Harlowe's Plebe Year at High School. This book was published in 1910 by Altemus and was written by Josephine Chase under the pseudonym Jessie Graham Flower, A.M. The book was published 100 years ago, which is made obvious from the rather dated illustrations which show the girls in very old-fashioned attire.

Grace Harlowe is 16 years old and is described as having wavy, chesnut hair. Grace's best friends are Nora O'Malley and Jessica Bright. Miriam Nesbitt is Grace's rival, who causes Grace and her friends endless trouble. All schoolgirl stories must have a jealous rival who wreaks havoc on everyone.

Anne Pierson is the new girl, who is from a very poor family. As the story begins, Miriam Nesbit speaks cruelly about Anne in Anne's presence. Grace decides to bring Anne into her circle of friends, so Grace, Nora, and Jessica befriend Anne.

All four girls become very friendly with old Mrs. Gray, who is the freshman sponsor. Mrs. Gray offers a prize each year to the freshman girl with the highest examination scores. The prize is $25 for the highest scores, and $100 if the girl makes a perfect score on every exam. No one has ever made a perfect score on all exams. Knowing what we know about series books, we can conclude that somebody will make a perfect score this year.

The young people generally expect Miriam Nesbit to claim the prize, but Anne hopes that she might be victorious. Anne badly needs the money and spends all of her time studying.

The four girls become friends with Miriam's brother, David Nesbit, and two other boys, Reddy Brooks and Hippy Wingate. The seven young people are invited to spend a week at Mrs. Gray's home during the holidays, where they meet Tom Gray, Mrs. Gray's great-nephew.

The story follows the plot of the typical school story with the usual melodrama involving mean girls and a very mean teacher. Even though I have read many series books that follow this theme, I never tire of this type of story so long as it is written well. This is a very enjoyable book which is never boring at any point during the story.


Laura Canon said...

I must say you make it sound interesting, though I'm not familiar with the series. I have the same feeling about the Tish books by Mary Roberts Rinehart (it's not really a series and aimed more at adults) which are from the same era. Cliched? Sure. But highly enjoyable.

beautifulshell said...

I'm looking forward to when you read the Marjorie Dean books - there's cliche, and then there's extreme similarity. I'm curious whether there's another series that's *as* similar as those two.