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To not be feeling the love for the Chalet School

(144 Posts)
doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 10:26:37

Inspired by a few threads on here, I rooted out a couple of old Chalet books the last time I was at my mum's and brought them home, looking forward to a nice few hours wallowing in the past. However, I tried both of them and couldn't get past the first couple of chapters.

They just didn't have the same magic anymore; the girls were either ridiculously prim, or chortling, jolly hockey sticks types. When they weren't all chuckling merrily their eyes were darkening as they remembered Joey/MaryLou whoever's recent brush with death. The teachers were far too wrapped up in the school and needed to get out and go to the pictures occasionally and maybe find themselves a boyfriend. And the 'old girls' needed to "move away from the schoolgates. Nothing to see here anymore".

AIBU to think they are not as good as I remember and to feel a bit sad sad.

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 10:45:22

Read the earlier ones! They make me feel much more nostalgic, warm and fuzzy. The later ones are spoiled by Jo being such a PAIN, and everyone loving her and needing her around to solve any and every problem.

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 10:47:13

Jo and her ruddy 'earphones'... grrr.

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 10:58:29

I know. Between them and her six million kids she must have looked like Maria Van bloody Trapp!

jeee Thu 27-Jun-13 11:01:22

Can I be the first to give a horrified splutter.

The Chalet School is fabulous. What other school frequently has pupils caught up in avalanches/train crashes/fires AND has its very own Nazi spy?

Mind you, I do want to give the Robin a slap every time she makes an appearance.

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 11:06:25

You forgot all the lakes they fall into leading to nearly fatal pneumonia and lots of eyes darkening soberly.

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 11:07:17

Eyes 'like pansies' too. Wtf?

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 11:09:51

The character I would most like to give a sharp kick in the shins:
Margot Maynard. AAAAAA! How dare she nearly brain someone with a bookend and not be expelled?

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 11:11:05

Mary Lou could have done with a boot up the arse now and again. Talk about bossy and uppity!

thebody Thu 27-Jun-13 11:18:46

Oh and Betty was told off for winding Margot up!!

But love love love the chalet school.

Tom Gays manly stance, MaryLou playing the game, Rosamund Lilly from the council school, matron man handling Emmerence, the health and safety incident forms and serious case teviews( ha ha) the praying and the games,

Miss annesleys beautiful voice, miss Wilson the weather prophet.

Madge Russell's ' elusive prettiness' and Joey's hilarious slang. 😀😀😀😀

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 11:26:34

I know, can't believe that Betty pretty much got the blame.

I love: gentle Frieda with her apple cheeks, Simone, Marie, Grizel nearly setting fire to Len (haha!), Joey falling into a box and it becoming a huge drama.

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 11:32:15

By the way, did anyone read the later books written in the 1960s. Did EBD move with the times at all and have the girls listening to Beatles records and talking about TV programmes. Or were they still little ladies living 1930s lives?

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 11:38:55

Btw, I highly recommend this website:
for various Chalet School discussions.

jeee Thu 27-Jun-13 11:41:12

She didn't really. There were oblique references to a changing world, but in essence the Chalet School didn't change. And by the latest books EBD was simply recycling her story lines anyway.

Antonia Forest, on the other hand, has her children moving from the 50s to the 70s (unfortunately I don't have the books so can't check the actual dates), in the space of a couple of school years.

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 11:44:23

I think that was one of the flaws of the Chalet series. EBD went into great detail about the lives and families of the pupils; the connections, marriages etc. But the outside world rarely intruded so even though her books span four or five decades and at least two generations of school girls (probably three) they don't really serve as a record of how life changed and progressed throughout the twentieth century and how the second world war changed things forever.
I'm waay overthinking this, amn't I?

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 11:47:28

Nope, not overthinking smile

I do think the books set at the time of WW2 were unusually detailed about it for a 'young people's' series. I'm sure there's a scene when some of the girls try and intervene when they see a Jewish man being attacked/taken away by Nazis.

jeee Thu 27-Jun-13 11:56:20

There is, Beeyump - it's in "The Chalet School in Exile". I think EBD was actually pretty brave in 1940 to write about a lynch mob attacking a Jewish man. It might have been a rare example of social realism in the Chalet School books, but I think it was actually an important statement.

And in the war-time books EBD persistently distinguished between Nazis and Germans - a distinction not often made at the time.

But I still loathe the Robin. I bet she thoroughly enjoyed being a nun.

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 12:00:36

Thanks jeee, and I agree with your comments.

Amazingly though, I don't loathe the Robin! For me, she seems to remain unspoiled despite being treated as a fragile angel-child throughout her upbringing.

clarinetV2 Thu 27-Jun-13 12:13:06

YABU. You just need to get back into them, a couple of random chapters won't do it. Read a few more, and you'll be feeling the lerve whilst chortling indulgently at some of the absurdities. I'm re-reading the middle part of the series at the moment after a gap of many years (started with Gay from China and now at Chalet School in the Oberland, the one where the finishing branch starts though the school itself is still on St Briavels) and though there's plenty that's just plain daft, I'm struck afresh by the fact that EBD was pretty damn good at the craft of writing. I think the later Swiss books do become repetitive and derivative, and she got progressively out of touch as time went on, but the Armishire and St Briavels part of the series is well-written and really quite interesting. I don't think they are the syrupy comfort reads of the earliest books (which BTW I love for their syrupy-ness) but the storylines are compelling even if somewhat bonkers at times.

I recommend immediate immersion in the series, starting at about New House (my favourite) and not stopping till Joey Goes to the Oberland (which is one to miss if you're not a fan of St Joey of Bettany). You will soon be back in the fold.

DorisShutt Thu 27-Jun-13 12:18:12

Where the hell are you all finding these books? I'd kill to re-read them all!

I can't find them on Amazon or e-books and Waterstones don't have them either sad

Beeyump Thu 27-Jun-13 12:18:45

New House is my favourite too!

DorisShutt Thu 27-Jun-13 12:19:48

Sorry, Amazon do do them but they are eye wateringly expensive sad

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 12:29:54

Well I found mine in my parents house. There's a few more up in their attic.
Thanks Clarinet I shall persevere and hopefully that luvin' feeling will come flooding back.

DeWe Thu 27-Jun-13 12:31:57

But that is what makes them so funny. I even got dh reading them (he won't read most of my collection of books) because he read them as comedy. grin

Joey's a lovely character at first, unfortuately she metamophasises into that parent that school, other parents and their own children dread appearing.
There's one time she's got the "new girls" for her English tea and she suggests playing some sort of rowdy game and Len tells her not to because she's pregnant (or "busy" as it's often called) and I always imagine Len rolling her eyes to the triplets and thinking "thank goodness for a good excuse. She's so embarrassing".
I imagine her a little like Margo from the Good Life. Thinking that everyone envies her, and not knowing that most people find her a little funny.

doingthesplitz Thu 27-Jun-13 12:38:24

The book I was trying to read last night was 'Peggy of the Chalet School' and it just seemed very dull. Are some of the others much better? I can't remember. I also tried to read Mary Lou of the Chalet School but I just wanted to hit her.

By the way my Peggy book says it is an 'abridged version'. It's the one I had as a child so I'm wondering were many of the paperbacks published in abridged format?

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