In this little book - literally as well as figuratively as it's a mini hardback that fits into a capacious pocket, Ysenda Maxtone Graham writes about that peculiarly English institution - girls boarding schools and the women who went to/survived them. It's not a history of boarding shcools as such but personal recollections, so the oldest stories go back to the thirties and the cut off date is the 1980's when girls began to be allowed to take their duvets to school and became warm and comfortable - quite unlike what had gone on previously.
It's quite short on jolly japes and midnight feasts and long on how cold it was, the eccentricities of some of the mistresses (not always in a nice way), the casual way parents just decided which school to dump their daughters in, the education - or lack of it, fitting in or not. It's about a world, many different worlds because what stands out is how diferent these schools were to each other and the girls and if you like reading about people it's absolutely fascinating.
I've read several reviews of this book in blogs and newspapers which describe it as hilarious and a 'hoot' - to someone who went to two boarding schools (one is held up to considerable ridicule in the book) it's not actually that funny but it is an eye-opener. I loathed boarding school with a passion, reading this has made me realise that I was quite lucky; there were places that were far, far worse and girls who were even squarer pegs than I was.
Incidentally if you want to read this you won't find it on Amazon until people start selling their second-hand copies. It's published by Slightly Foxed Editions who say they can't afford to pay Amazon's commissions rates.