“Being Miss” is a novella-length account written by Fran Hill. Since Fran is a member of my writers group and I’d seen several positive comments about “Being Miss” on Facebook and also read some of Fran’s very funny blog posts, I decided to download the Kindle version and move it to the top of my current reading list!
I found this account brilliantly and sometimes painfully funny. Fran addresses her subject with self-deprecating humour. I feel this short book (112 pages) should be required reading for anyone on a B. Ed. course, so that they might have a true sense of the realities of life as a schoolteacher. Although I don’t believe, of course, that any teacher would genuinely encounter all these situations in one day, and it’s clear Fran has amalgamated probably several months’ worth of experiences in one intense, highly comical day, nevertheless this does give fascinating insights into the life of a schoolteacher. I have a sense that to succeed in this profession you have to be a master of mind-games and psychological tricks; for those unskilled in this, it must be unbelievably stressful! I particularly loved Fran’s dialogues with her Scottish colleague in the staffroom, and some of the more picaresque tales in the book, including the moment when you as the reader think, “Oh no, she isn’t going to do what I think she’s going to do….” and then she does do it. Read the book to find out what that might be!
Her account of invigilation was particularly amusing; though I must admit, from my own personal experience as an occasional school invigilator, my favourite game has been to study in turn the faces, hairstyles, body-language, clothes and make-up of several students in the room, wondering about what their futures hold for them, and what mistakes they will make in their lives and whether any of them are destined to make the same mistakes that I’ve done. I have never deliberately set off down an aisle while another invigilator is heading up it in my direction, with the intention of sweeping a student’s exam paper and stationery off onto the floor. However, having read Fran’s anecdotes, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief that she has actually done the things she describes! (Or maybe there is some use of poetic licence here).
I’d love to see this kind of comic observation within the structure of a well-plotted full-length novel. I hope Fran will give us this with her next book. She may even be able to borrow from and subtly adjust some of those wonderful Gothic ideas presented by her brilliant pupils in their essays for her…
As this review might suggest, I thoroughly recommend Fran’s book to you!