Review of Welcome to the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

A Jenny Colgan book written by Jane Beaton? What’s afoot? A pseudonym, evidently! Onwards!

Welcome to the School by the Sea

Jenny Colgan

March 29, 2022

William Morrow


Maggie went to the window and opened it wide, inhaling the lovely salt air off the sea. Why had she never lived by the sea before? Why had she always looked out on housing estates and not the little white hulls of trawlers bobbing off in the distance?

It’s gloriously sunny in Cornwall as the school year starts at the little boarding school by the sea. Maggie, the newest teacher at Downey House, is determined to make her mark. She’s delighted by her new teaching job, but will it come at the expense of her relationship with her safe, dependable boyfriend Stan?

Simone is excited and nervous: she’s won a scholarship to the prestigious boarding school and wants to make her parents proud. Forced to share a room with the glossy, posh girls of Downey House, she needs to find a friend, fast.

Fliss is furious. She’s never wanted to go to boarding school and hates being sent away from her home. As Simone tries desperately to fit in, Fliss tries desperately to get out.

Over the course of one year, friendships will bloom and lives will be changed forever. Life at the Little School by the Sea is never dull…

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Despite the fact that I’ve read this book, I’m a bit mystified about its origin, which I think may be several years ago written under the pseudonym of Jane Beaton, but since I’m still scratching my head (no dandruff involved, thank you very much), we’ll just move on.

Welcome to the School by the Sea is a boarding school novel written by the later Jenny Colgan rather than the earlier, funnier, more irreverent Jenny Colgan. But, seriously, any Jenny Colgan is better than no Jenny Colgan.

The story is told in multiple POVs, sometimes all within a chapter and sometimes within two paragraphs or even a single paragraph. It’s sometimes disorienting until you catch on. I did not find this in any way an impediment toward my enjoyment.

Maggie is, a Scottish teacher hailing from Glasgow who, on a whim, decides to apply for a position at a southern English boarding school and, much to her surprise as well as her relatives and boyfriend, is accepted.

Other main characters are Simone, a gifted but overweight student who shines academically and dramatically but is too shy, and Felicity–Fliss–who would rather be anywhere other than at this boarding school.

Welcome to the School by the Sea is one of the borderline Jenny Colgan novels, meaning that it is between the earlier, far funnier and irreverent Jenny Colgan’s and the later, sweet, no-controversy (unless I missed it) Jenny Colgan novels.

Welcome to the School by the Sea is a pleasant novel, much in the way that most later Jenny Colgan novels are pleasant. There are some funny bits, but not as many as in Colgan’s earlier novels.

I did enjoy Welcome to the School by the Sea. It was indeed a page turner, made me laugh and escape, and I hope for greater things for Maggie in the adventure to come. There are evidently five more novels in the series. This is the kind of book that you need when you just want to be somewhere else. I didn’t know it was a thing, but this is also for all of you who love boarding school books. (I guess that’s a British thing more than American. 😉 )

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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