Eleanor Scott’s War Among Ladies is an enthralling story of the vicious internal politics of a small girls’ school in the Midlands, on the brink of closure due to poor academic performance. This novel is not just another retelling of high spirited schoolgirl antics, but rather an exploration of the dire dilemmas facing the ladies in the school staff rooms, and the major problems facing the school education system of the 1920s. Set at Besley High School, the story follows Miss Cullen, an older teacher nearing retirement, and Miss Viola Kennedy, a young and fresh-faced new teacher. As the school’s academic performance, particularly in French, turns from bad to worse, several members of the staff feel that they must take matters into their own hands in order to save their own skins. This leads to a battle of wills between Miss Cullen and her colleagues, and a moral quandary for Miss Cullen as she weighs up the pros and cons of resigning from her job.
War Among Ladies is an incredibly powerful read, filled with twists and turns, ugly politics, scheming and so much drama. It is a scathing social commentary on the post-war life of economic hardship, and how it affected a generation of surplus women. Eleanor Scott has written this novel with great sympathy for the central character of Miss Cullen, making it a truly captivating page-turner. I highly recommend this book to readers who are looking for a thought-provoking story about the struggles faced by women in the 1920s.