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Welcome, friends old and new, to my blog. This is the place where I can share my scribblings and thoughts on loving life. I hope you enjoy them, make suggestions and come back to read more.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Great Fictional Characters: Isobel O'Sullivan

Continuing with the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2015

Today's character is one half of the famous O' Sullivan twins- Isobel O' Sullivan from Enid Blyton's St Clare's series- although it's practically impossible to discuss one without mentioning the other.

Isobel O' Sullivan, along with her twin sister, Pat, follows a character arc like no other. From spoilt brat to jolly decent gel in only one book! Throw in a wise headmistress, hysterical French teacher, sharp-tongued, warm-hearted school chums and a cat in a cupboard- and you've got a great story that is moral without being preachy.

After their parents decide the twins are becoming altogether too snooty for their own good, they are shipped off to a sensible boarding school to learn some humility and common-sense. Having been "somebodies" at their previous school, this doesn't go down well (as you can imagine) and Isobel and Pat resolve to be absolutely vile until their parents relent and send them to their school of choice.

My original copy
They soon earn the nick-name "stuck-up twins" from their classmates and the dislike is mutual. Isobel and Pat don't want to fit in because a: they have each other and b: they don't plan on staying long enough to make friends. They butt heads with teachers and pupils alike, and are completely miserable- but good old St Clare's starts to work on them... Despite the girls refusing to "fag" for the sixth-formers, the sports captain, Belinda, puts Pat up for the lacrosse match and the girls start to realise that the school, and the people in it, are not so bad.

They begin to change: they work hard, they make friends, they try to fit in. But it's not so simple. Their previous school, though big on privilege, was not so big on knowledge and the twins stick steadily in the middle of the class (a huge disappointment when they are actually trying their best). Joining in with their friends teasing of a particularly vulnerable teacher results in that teacher handing in her notice and so jeopardising the health of her mother through being unable to pay for her care. They have a few run-ins with Sheila, who is even more insufferable than the twins were (although her reasons are revealed later) and someone in their form is suspected of stealing... and someone else has a secret that the twins must keep from the teachers, even though they know it is breaking the rules. Drama drama! And not a jolly hockey stick in sight!

Throughout, Isobel is the more sensible one (though capable of being just as stubborn as her sister) and, being a natural pacifist, the twin I empathised with more. If it weren't for Isobel buckling under to the rules (while breaking them by pretending to be Pat buckling under to the rules- are you keeping up?) then Pat would never have been offered the chance to play in the lacrosse match, and the girls would have continued being vile to everyone for six books. As fun as that might sound, I wouldn't have enjoyed reading it, and I certainly wouldn't have learned the valuable life lesson that sometimes it's better to shut up and get on with things. Isobel knows how to choose her battles- and polishing boots wasn't one of them!

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