Blyton for grown-ups: Rules and Lessons by Jenny Colgan

I recommended the first in this series – Class – recently, and having read the other two in the series I thought I’d just write a little bit about those as well.


A quick reminder of Class – Maggie Adair, a Glaswegian teacher, takes a job at Downey House which very much resembles Malory Towers. She has to contend with the posh girls she teaches, her crush on the English teacher at the nearby boys’ school and trying to keep her relationship with Stan (who’s still in Glasgow) going.


Each book in the series covers a full school year so Rules begins at the start of the autumn term with the girls from book one moving into the next form. (This is one thing that’s less Blyton-ish, but it’s also much less confusing!)

With the thief having left the at the summer holidays, there’s an empty space in Alice, Felicity and Simone’s dorm. This is quickly filled by Zelda Towrell, an American girl. Zelda is possibly even ‘cooler’ than Alice, being American. She rather looks down on the quaint English boarding school, in fact. If she sounds a bit familiar, then that’s no surprise as she’s very like Zerelda Brass from Third Year at Malory Towers. Zelda doesn’t quite stand out the way Zerelda does, as the Downey girls do wear makeup and style their hair but she is still a bit different from the others, a little more OTT perhaps.

She has more sway over her dorm-mates than Zerelda does too, and encourages them to get into trouble leading to Alice being moved to another dorm.

Felicity has her own problems through the year, while Simone begins an awkward relationship with a boy from Downey Boys.

Maggie and Stan are set to get married, even though we the readers can see that this isn’t what she really wants and isn’t what’s right for her, and it isn’t until the very end of the book that David throws himself under the bus (or rather, at a train) and declares his love for her…


Perhaps not surprisingly as the series is supposed to be six books long we do not see Maggie and David together at the start of the new term.

In fact, they are further apart than ever. David ends up at a rough comprehensive – mirroring Maggie’s original background, while Maggie is still at Downey Girls. The two are banned from seeing, calling or emailing each other. Despite being two educated professionals they don’t find the loophole in that until near the end of the book when it doesn’t really matter anyway.

With Zelda having left already that means there is space in the dorm for another new girl (and Alice is back). Our new girl this time (I wonder if every year will have a different fourth girl) is another scholarship girl, but one that doesn’t particularly like the school.

She brings a storyline reminiscent of the poison pen letters in Malory Towers, only with this being the 21st century it is online trolling. Just like in Malory Towers the guilty party is really rather unexpected. I thought I had worked it out but nope, it wasn’t who I thought it was!

A word of warning – this book ends of a cliff hanger and as yet there doesn’t seem to be any sign of book #4 in the series!

I noted a few Blyton-like inconsistencies with the numbers last time, and this book goes some way to fixing that. There are other teachers mentioned – Rules adds History and Geography, and Lessons IT, so it’s not inconceivable that there are even more which aren’t mentioned yet. If there wasn’t it makes class sizes problematic and also pastoral care groups – Maggie only has four in hers!

Anyway, these are two more enjoyable entries in the series, both continuing to follow the various threads of the plots established in the first book. I really hope books 4-6 do get written!

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