Did I Imagine This Novel, Irish Convent School Edition
November 4, 2016 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Have you read this novel about teenage girls in an Irish convent school in the mid-twentieth century? Let me jig, er, jog your memory, and maybe you can help jog mine about the title and/or author. So, I read a novel many years ago. Definitely more than thirty. As you'll see, I remember a number of details, but Google is coming up with absolutely no results from them. My hope is that either someone will recognize something they've also read elsewhere, or that one of MeFi’s team of nimja librarians will know some arcane search method previously outside the ken of we mortals.


The book was set and written in the 1950s or 1960s, in Ireland or Northern Ireland. It may have been written for a young adult audience, but I read it as a little girl and I don't think I would have known the difference at that age. The heroine was a teenage girl named Siobhan.*

As the novel starts, Siobhan has finished up at the local convent day school and is being taken by her mother to start high school at a convent boarding school in the city.

Her roommates are Maeve and Josie. Maeve is blonde, developed for her age, and boy-crazy; Josie wears glasses, and is kind of a dumpy nerd. The girls have a statue of St. Martin de Porres in their room; Maeve calls him “Martin” or “Marty” and talks about him as if he is their boyfriend.

One time, the three girls are out in the city together and a man tries to pick them up. Maeve convinces him that they’re prostitutes and that he should be afraid of their pimp “Martin” who looks “like Cassius Clay, only blacker.”

Over summer, Siobhan is invited to her first forma and gets her first formal dress. There's some kerfuffle with her mother over whether she'll wear her hair up or down. Her father makes some kind of endearing nonsense rhyme in the Irish language using her name. She wears her hair down and feels very grown-up when it brushes her shoulders at the dance.

When Siobhan gets back to school, Josie has failed her Leaving exams and has to repeat the previous term. She comes up with some special study aid system that involves lots of memorization and pulling all-nighters. The girls’ dressing gowns match their personalities: Siobhan’s is new, from a mid-range department store, and it's soft, blue, and conservative yet feminine; Josie's is a striped men's castoff, and Maeve’s is a silky peignoir with marabou feather trim and high heeled mules to match. Maeve has developed more curves over the break and “little balls of fat has appeared on her hips” She's also very moody and has a short temper with Siobhan. Of the three girls, only Maeve has improved grades with Josie's new system.

I want to say that at some point near the of the book, some young soldier or soldiers with PTSD are staying at the convent for some reason. But I could be importing that plot element in from another dimly remembered book. OK

*It’s possible that “Siobhan” was spelt “Shivaun” No joy from t’auld Google there, neither
posted by The Underpants Monster to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This looks like your book: No More Septembers by Maurade Glennon
posted by Redstart at 2:40 PM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wow, that was quick! Thanks, Redstart!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:15 PM on November 4, 2016

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