Cover Image: Welcome to the School by the Sea

Welcome to the School by the Sea

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Welcome to the school by the sea by Jenny Colgan. This book was an absolute delight to read. I’d never come across a book with fhe plot taking place at at a boarding school for girls. That definitely is different and one reason why I chose to read ghd book, I also love reading books that place in locations I’ve visited before, having been to th$ Cornwall area on vacation some years ago. This book is one that you start reading and lose track of time while getting lost in ghd story and you look at the clock and two hours have passed without notice. The effortless flow of the storyline by the author added to that.
The characters of of Maggie and Simone were my favorite and I loved seeing how their characters grew and developed over the course of the book, I can’t wait to revisit these two and see further growth in the next  book when it comes out.
I would certainly recommend this book and the author to other readers I know, I find they would enjoy it just as much as I have. Waiting eagerly for the next one in the series!
Was this review helpful?
Maggie is a new teacher at the prestigious Downey House school in Cornwall, a bit of an outcast not only because of her accent, but also only used to teaching lower-income teens, not these upper class girls. Her boyfriend isn’t thrilled about her being gone every day for months, and Maggie worries if their relationship will suffer. Especially when she meets a teacher from the boy’s school across the lake who is much less self-centered and also cares more about the kids and their education than himself, as Maggie is beginning to do. 
She feels particularly apt to look out for the scholarship girl who is overweight and also an outcast, particularly with the snobby mean girls she rooms with. Simone was thrilled to get in but finding it difficult to make friends with these girls she has almost nothing in common with. 
Fliss is making life hard for her new roommate, raging at the world because she was forced to go to this school instead of the one where the boy she likes attends. So she devises a plan to try to get kicked out. 
The headmistress of the school also has drama of her own, with assessors coming in that she needs to brown nose, and trying to keep everyone safe and all the parents happy, though times keep changing more and more drastically since she started here decades ago. 
Told from multiple highly contrasting perspectives, this book doesn’t hold back on both teen and adult drama, ridiculous comedy, and satisfying resolutions (with only one left until the next book, which I can hardly wait to continue). A feel-good teen and adult contemporary dramedy for anyone who ever felt left out in high school or frustrated by it, set in a beautiful old castle. 
I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Net Galley. All opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of the publisher or its affiliates or the author.
Was this review helpful?
Welcome to the First School by the Sea

by Jenny Colgan

Whether or not you are a fan of British boarding school books aimed at girls, you will enjoy this series written for adults who loved that genre in their younger days.  The series will contain six books as it follows students and teachers through six grades at Downey House in Cornwall beginning with this book, Welcome to the First School by the Sea. 

Maggie, a young English teacher from Glasgow, has been teaching in a fairly rough school in London and is ready for a change. She lands a job at the posh boarding school which looks like a beautiful castle. Her long-time, scruffy boyfriend Stan stays behind, and they try to work through the problems of a long distance relationship. The girls and some of the staff are introduced gradually as the plot progresses. Some are likable, some intentionally not. I really enjoyed meeting the various characters from the hardworking, bullied scholarship student Simone whose family hails from Romania to the sophisticated and daring French teacher Claire Crozier.

Maggie wants to do well by her students and is committed to being successful in her new job. She find herself in the middle of situations that develop and even puts herself physically at risk to help a distraught student. The Headteacher, Dr. Veronica Deveral, is a formidable but also amiable institution at the school. There is a potential romantic interest in Maggie’s counterpart at the boys’ school nearby. His dog Stephen Daedalus plays a prominent role in the story.

The normal tension from girls going through puberty, angst over grades, sports and distant family, and unpleasant bullying is ratcheted up when some valuable personal items go missing at the school. The identity of the thief is quite a surprise. Other dramatic twists are included, but not totally resolved leaving the reader anxious to rejoin the staff and students of Downey House after their summer break.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to HarperCollins (William Morrow) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

Notes: 1.  #1 in The School by the Sea series.
	    2. Be sure to read “A Word from Jenny” about the origin of the series. It is very interesting as is the original “Introduction” by the author under her pen name.
	    3. Some swearing.

Publication:  March 29, 2022—HarperCollins (William Morrow)

Memorable Lines:

Once she’d dreamed of filling young hearts and minds with wonderful books and poetry; inspiring them, like Robin Williams, to think beyond their small communities and into the big world. Now she just dreamed of crowd control, and keeping them quiet for ten bloody minutes without someone whacking somebody else or answering their hidden mobiles.

Pat and Liz had been delighted to take the young teacher under their wing and give her the benefit of their wisdom, acquired through about two years in the classroom and twenty in administration, as far as Maggie could work out.

Remembering her family’s love provided a small candle of warmth inside her.
Was this review helpful?
Apparently, this book is the first in the re-published in the US series by Jenny Colgan, previously out under a pen name.
It's a quick read with a decent premise/story line about a boarding school, however I felt it was ruined by too much bullying & talk about how fat the characters are.  
Jenny Colgan is an excellent, descriptive writer & I was looking forward to this series. Hopefully the other books focus on more positive thoughts!
Was this review helpful?
Another great book from Jenny Colgan. This is pretty standard fare from her and I think it will appeal to fans of her other novels. I didn't like it quite as much as the books in her Mure series, but it was a fun read nevertheless.
Was this review helpful?
Welcome to the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan is the first book in Little School by the Sea series. I later discovered that this is a reprint.  It was originally released under the author’s pen name Jane Beaton.  The book comes across more as a young adult novel than women’s fiction.   I started reading this story and was quickly confused, frustrated, and upset.  I thought Welcome to the School by the Sea would be warm, upbeat story based on the description.   I was very wrong.  In the beginning, we are introduced to character after character without getting much detail.  I wish so many characters had not been introduced in one chapter.  The transitions are choppy.  The main focus is on Maggie Adair who decides to interview for a job at the posh Downey House, a boarding school for girls.  She gets the position as an English instructor.  Maggie leaves her boyfriend, Stan behind (I really do not know what she sees in him) to take the teaching position. We meet Veronica Deveral, Fliss, Alice, and Simone.  Fliss is a new student at the school and is going against her will.  She wishes to stay at home with her parents and attend the local school.  Fliss (aka Felicity) will do whatever it takes to get back home.  I wish we had been told why her parents were so adamant about sending her to Downey House.  Alice is a legacy student.  Her siblings have attended, and they have not endeared themselves to the headmistress.  Alice, unfortunately, is just like them.  She acts innocent, but she is usually at the center of the mischief.  Simone is a girl lucky enough to win a scholarship to the school (she may be bullied but she will get a first-class education).  The girl is a little overweight from all the cakes, pies, and sweets in her home.  Simone’s weight is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book.  I was not a fan of the fat shaming.  There is more to a person than their weight.  There is too much bullying in this book.  Anyone who has endured bullying should not read this story (it will give you bad flashbacks).  There are also numerous references to class differences.  Maggie and Simone are picked on because they do not come from wealthy backgrounds like the majority of the students or staff.  I had a difficult time finishing Welcome to the School by the Sea.  I wish there had been a warning on the book about the bullying, emotional abuse, and fat shaming.  I felt bad for Simone.  I found the story to be shallow, cliched, and predictable.  I was disappointed with the ending.  There is also foul language in the book and talk about intimate situations.  There were too many storylines stuffed into this one book along the stilted writing.  There is a preview of Rules at the School by the Sea at the end, but I will not be reading it.  Welcome to the School by the Sea was a disappointment from beginning to end.
Was this review helpful?
I always love Jenny Colgan’s books, but this one was so different, I found that I kept going back to the cover to see if I was mistaken and it wasn’t a Jenny Colgan book! I learned only from going on Goodreads that this was something she had written earlier years ago under a pen name, but now was republishing under her real name. I wish the original title, “Class”, was kept, as retitling it “Welcome to the School by the Sea” made me think it was going to be similar to her other books – a sad woman goes to a lonely, isolated town and learns to become part of the community. While there were some elements of that in this plot, it was much more of an “ensemble cast” book, and unfortunately, that didn’t totally work for me. I mostly enjoyed following Maggie (new Scottish schoolteacher who fits the typical Jenny Colgan heroine profile) and Simone (overweight scholarship student who can’t seem to fit in), but had mixed feelings on Fliss (new student who hates boarding school and tries to make everyone else miserable too), and couldn’t be bothered with Veronica (headmistress who has no depth until a storyline at the end that’s supposed to be shocking, but at that point, I didn’t care about her). In general, the characters all seemed a bit pathetic, not doing much to help themselves. I had never heard of or read Malory Towers, so perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if I had been a longtime fan of this genre, but it wasn’t for me.
Was this review helpful?
Jenny Colgan is a brilliant storyteller. This slice of life novel set in a small town boarding school is a charming, immersive, and entertaining read.  The characters are well developed and relatable, the pacing is good and it's well written overall. A sweet palette cleanser, charming read that is perfect for summer.
Was this review helpful?
This is a rerelease originally written under the author's pen name of Jane Beaton.
I have enjoyed many books by this author, always so upbeat and warm.
Unfortunately this one did not do it for me.
This one is more of a ya novel than adult with a lot of drama at a boarding school plus fat shaming. This was very off putting. I will not be continuing with this series.


I was given a complimentary copy of this book.
All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to go to a boarding school when I was growing up so I've always loved books about them. Set on the coast in the English countryside, this all girls boarding school sounds like a dream, even with the typical drama that seems to follow groups of teen girls and apparently teachers too. 

This was a pretty good read and I look forward to reading the next one in the series,  unfortunately I felt like it's around 3.5 stars because it has a couple big drawbacks. First,  the pacing was awful; this covers a school year but we had only made it through the first 2 days by 33% in the book. Then big chunks of time passed, making it feel a little rushed to get to the year's end.   The second issue for me was all the emphasis they put on one of the girls being overweight. Every time anybody mentioned or interacted with the girl they also brought up her weight, it was annoying and not constructive or really relevant to the plot after everyone's opinions were established. We get it,  she's fat and it's obviously super important to everyone who meets her. I also didn't get overly invested in many of the characters.  But aside from those things,  the book was actually pretty good.


*received free e-book from netgalley
Was this review helpful?
Another lovely Jenny Colgan book. 

The main character, Maggie, is a new teacher at a girls boarding school in Cornwall. She navigates her new position along with several new students who are also trying to navigate their way. 

I’m glad to hear this is the first in a series because I do want to see where the characters go from here. 

I read this in one sitting on vacation. It’s the perfect summer read.
Was this review helpful?
Jenny Colgan novels are like a good cup of coffee and a baked good. The most comforting , yet everyday encounter, that makes you just feel good. Her light characters who do have some bumps in life, make us realize that we are all human and all with the same insecurities. This first novel of her "w=School" books follows a cast of students, teachers and admin in a boarding school for young women. Will look for the next novel in series for sure. 
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
Maggie is a teacher in one of Scotland's poorer school districts.  Frustrated by the lack of funds to properly do her job and her inability to engage with her students, she takes a job as an English teacher at Downey Hall, a posh boarding school for girls. Maggie has a great deal  of difficulty adjusting to her new environment and her students have difficulty engaging with her. And then there’s the clique: the popular girl with minions to do her biding and ostracizing those who aren’t on her socioeconomic status. There are a number of subplots to this which made me wonder if there will be a sequel. I was thrilled to see there will be and look forward to reading that as well
Was this review helpful?
This school by the sea is a girls' boarding school set in Cornwall.  I loved the Cornish scenery, and even though I wouldn't send my daughters to boarding school, I can see the appeal of setting a story there  Getting to know the characters throughout this book made me glad that they each settled into their comfortable place in the dynamics of the school.  This took me a little while to get into, but once I did, I am looking forward to more in the series.
Was this review helpful?
Maggie Adair feels her life is stagnating in Glasgow. Her teaching career seems to be three parts discipline, one part teaching. She is friends with the same people she went to grade school with, including her long time boyfriend, Stan, and it seems they will predictably drift into a comfortable if unexciting marriage. But then Maggie applies for a teaching position at a posh girls boarding school in Cornwall, and wonder of wonders, she gets the job! Not that this pleases Stan, her parents, or her friends. Maggie tells them it is just a bit of a lark, a little adventure before she settles down to life in Glasgow. 

But Maggie quickly becomes very involved in life at the school. They are girl dramas, of course! One girl who is a scholarship student finds it just as hard to fit into the new environment as Maggie initially does. But eventually Maggie begins to love her new position, and is torn between those who want her to return to Glasgow and forging forward to a new adventure. 

This was a somewhat predictable but fun read. It is evidently the first in a four part series, and there were a few unanswered questions at the end of the book. I will most likely be seeking the next in the series out to see what happens at Downey House on the Cornwall coast.

Thank you to NetGalley, the aughor Jenny Colgan, and William Morrow for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Lives collide at an upscale boarding school in Britain. A socially isolated headmistress looks back on her life. A young teacher - burned out from her small, local life - works to find her place someplace new, while also balancing the old. Three first-year students from varying backgrounds seek social acceptance amongst their peers.

A relatively predictable story that works to maintain engagement through humor and relatable characters. An entertaining and chill read.

Some word choice and weird stuff surrounding body image that could possibly be chalked up to differing views in the US vs UK. These things took away from the story and would be worth revisiting in future publication.


*This e-book was gifted to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I am a huge Jenny Colgan fan and she never disappoints!!!!!!!!!!!  I love this first installment in her new School by the Sea series. I never went to boarding school being a middle class country girl myself but this book makes me wish I had.
Was this review helpful?
Received an advanced copy from the publisher.

I have a deep affection for Jenny Colgan books and the gentle worlds she creates in these small villages and remote locations in the UK.  I enjoyed reading this first book in a new series and will probably read more, but I would call this one a little under-baked, character-wise.  For that reason it would be a three-star for me, not my favorite Colgan, not un-readable.

I'm taking away another star, however, for the rampant body shaming and fatphobia which is not foreign to Colgan's work (there's always an underlying "city = stress and fried food and misery"/"country = fresh air and bright cheeks and health" vibe) but is especially pronounced and especially troubling in a book featuring many teen girls.  Characters who comment negatively on another's body out loud are rightfully told to shut up and that is painted as "bad," but because so much of the book is inner monologues you hear every THOUGHT these women have, constant throwaway notions about this girl's chubbiness or this other teacher's build.  Like I said, these are baked in the cake of Colgan's books but seemed to be turned up to 11 in this one and it's particularly icky to constantly be peppered with throwaway comments on teenagers' bodies.
Was this review helpful?
I read this book when it was originally published under the Jane Beaton pen name, and I re-read it for this review. Jenny Colgan writes such warm and enjoyable books, and Welcome to the School by the Sea is no exception. The first year at a posh, all-girls boarding school in Cornwall is told through the varying perspectives of teen students, a young-adult teacher, and the wise elder headmistress, and this wide view of women's lives during different life periods is sweet and painful and hopeful, just as most life stages are. I'm eager to re-read the next two books in the series (Rules and Lessons) as they are re-released under Jenny Colgan's name and to read the final three books in the series when they are published.
Was this review helpful?
Downey House is a all girls boarding school.  Even with all the drama, it seems like a nice place to go to school.  So many different personalities certainly makes for lots of drama!
Maggie Is the new teacher,  When she applied for the job she didn’t think she would be hired.  Once she learns she has gotten the position, she has to tell her boyfriend, Stan, she is moving to England from Scotland.   Will their relationship survive?  
Watching the friendships grow makes me want to know more about where they all end up.  Will Maggie and Stan be together??????
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?