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 Post subject: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 04 Mar 2012, 20:09 
I am reading this title at the moment, and loving it! It's a bit like an O Douglas, it has a similar feel to it. I avoided it for ages because of the picture on the cover - those extremely earnest-looking country dancers, appearing to take it horribly seriously so that it becomes set in concrete rather than danced and enjoyed.

But please let me explain! I think that Cecil Sharp did a fantastic thing, ensuring that this heritage was kept alive and accurate. But sometimes (in the Abbey books, for example), dancers seem so determined to ensure that a particular dance carries on down the ages, that I wonder if they can become static and enjoyed less. Not so much dancing by locals in villages, but danced by 'outsiders' at schools.

Perhaps Finn would have something to say about this?

Anyway, it's a lovely book - do read it if you can get it (Bettany Press). I shall add some comments here later on.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 04 Mar 2012, 21:49 
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This has been moved here because it's a book discussion.

Lottie, wearing her mod hat.

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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 04 Mar 2012, 22:03 
Aha - many thanks Lottie.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 05 Mar 2012, 17:01 
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I really like this book too, and have read it several times. It's delightfully melodramatic but I think that's because it was written as a serial. The way EBD writes about the weather and the landscape is very evocative but Jean could do with a good shake!


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 05 Mar 2012, 17:16 
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Sorry to be a grump, but I'm not over-keen on this one. That ridiculous line about
Quote:
Somehow, he felt, as he had never felt before, the want of a woman to sit facing him as he read a new book on pulmonary complaints
is a classic :lol:. I don't like the way Jean treats her step-niece, either - fancy telling a young child, who has lost both her parents and her stepfather and had to move to a strange place where she doesn't know anyone, that she isn't allowed to call you "Auntie" because she's only a relative by marriage and not by blood :shock: .

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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2012, 11:36 
Oh - I have this delight to come! How funny!

I read it last night - absolutley brilliant!

I like Jean. Someone up-thread said they didn't, but what I like is the roundness of her character. She's one of hte most realistic characters I've ever read by Elinor. She has her own ideas about how to bring up Allison which are then muddled by reading the psychology books, she's proud in a negative sense, which brings all sorts of problems for her, she loves to run on the sea-shore, she supports Molly to the hilt ... she's really developed as a person and very convincing for it.

Something which struck me last night was the writng about love-struck characters. Now some of this is a little bit M&B but a lot of it comes over as though Elinor was writing from personal experience. I have no idea if this was the case, but of course it's highly possible that she would have had personal experience of loving someone.

In telling he reader about Mollie and the curate we have:

Quote:
Not even to himself did he specify who 'Her' wa; but he glowed at the thought that, by next Tuesday, Jean must have heard from Mollie, and might, perhaps, tell him her news. Of such stuff is love, that it can feed and flourish on the poorest things.


To me, at least, this comes across as different from bog-standard love-sick writing and make me wonder if Elinor had known something like this herself.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 08 Mar 2012, 07:56 
I kind of adore this one, despite the fact that lots of it is awful, but I also find the social world it depicts interestingly dark in comparison to the CS universe. The town seems so gossipy and claustrophobic - Mollie is afraid of her weird, controlling landlady, Jean and her cousin are afraid of their crusty retainer (it cracks me up every single time that when she interferes with Alison's upbringing, Jean doesn't threaten to fire her, but to walk out of the house herself, with Alison!) and is it the vicar's nasty wife who might refuse permission for the Guides to use the village hall if she's not kept onside?


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 08 Mar 2012, 11:53 
Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
I kind of adore this one, despite the fact that lots of it is awful, but I also find the social world it depicts interestingly dark in comparison to the CS universe. ... is it the vicar's nasty wife who might refuse permission for the Guides to use the village hall if she's not kept onside?


Yes, it is. But true to the lighter Chalet School world, the vicar and his nasty wife move on, leaving that particular post open, and it's given to Mollie and her new husband. So all ends well!


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2012, 16:13 
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I agree that a lot of this book is quite bad (but quite typical M&B fare then and much later!)

But EBD's skill at describing a setting she knows well is already there. And the country dancing is clearly something EBD knew about in the context she's writing about, and actually more realistic than the Abbey girls with their parties and specially made frocks.

The most interesting thing I think is that in Jean, Oona? (It's a while since I read it) and Alison we have the prototypes for Jo, Madge and Robin. The younger girl or woman (Jo, Janie) with the older sister/parent figure was EBD's favourite grouping.

And we have the masterful doctor, too! (And is Matey a much softer, watered down version of Morag?)

Apart from the school setting, everything that would become essential to EBD's writing is here, just not yet fully developed.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2012, 19:20 
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I'll have to read this book soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2012, 20:36 
JayB wrote:
The most interesting thing I think is that in Jean, Oona? (It's a while since I read it) and Alison we have the prototypes for Jo, Madge and Robin. The younger girl or woman (Jo, Janie) with the older sister/parent figure was EBD's favourite grouping.

And we have the masterful doctor, too! (And is Matey a much softer, watered down version of Morag?)

Apart from the school setting, everything that would become essential to EBD's writing is here, just not yet fully developed.


I hadn't thought about Jean and co as the prototypes for Joey and co, but you're right. Less idealised in some ways, though - but hard to say whether that's a function of it being an earlier, serialised novel, or because it's not specifically aimed at younger readers? Jean and her aunt aren't always in full accord, their puritanical servant bullies them, and Allison, if she is (as I suppose she is) a sort of prototype for the Robin, is a thoroughly un-idealised little girl in comparison - plain, spoiled by being too much waited on, not initially appealing in manner, and shockingly Godless!

Morag, if she is a kind of pre-Matey, is a much darker character - dour, racist, rude, obsessed with hellfire etc. And the CS pupils and staff's 'wholesome fear' of Matey is a much weirder situation in Jean of Storms, with Jean and Oona, despite being Morag's employers, being terrified of her, to the point where Jean tries keep either Mollie or Allison by her side after Allison and Moti's arrival, because Morag won't go on the attack in front of them....


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2012, 21:57 
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JayB wrote:
The most interesting thing I think is that in Jean, Oona? (It's a while since I read it) and Alison we have the prototypes for Jo, Madge and Robin. The younger girl or woman (Jo, Janie) with the older sister/parent figure was EBD's favourite grouping.

And we have the masterful doctor, too! (And is Matey a much softer, watered down version of Morag?)

Apart from the school setting, everything that would become essential to EBD's writing is here, just not yet fully developed.


Jean of Storms was published in 1930 in the Shields Daily Gazette so the characters of Madge, Joey and Robin were established by then. And Matey is already at the Chalet School, although her character perhaps isn't as developed as the others. In the CS series, EBD was up to Eustacia by this time.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2012, 10:35 
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Alison H wrote:
I don't like the way Jean treats her step-niece, either - fancy telling a young child, who has lost both her parents and her stepfather and had to move to a strange place where she doesn't know anyone, that she isn't allowed to call you "Auntie" because she's only a relative by marriage and not by blood :shock: .

I haven't finished reading the book, but one thing that really struck me about the first few chapters is how casually the two young orphans are separated. They have different fathers so are blithely sent off to these different families, all complete strangers to them, without question or hesitation. In today's society, I think more effort would be made to keep the siblings together.

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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2012, 06:24 
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Double-posting, but it's been a while and no one else has posted...

Finished reading the book now and enjoyed it a lot in spite of its many flaws - it's full of characters that it is very easy to get attached to. After my concerns about the two little girls being separated so casually at the beginning, I liked that they were eventually reunited...typical EBD, though, to have the bag guardian prove herself unfit by effectively abandoning the older child in favour of personal gratification, while the good guardians prove themselves worthy by taking on an unrelated child without a second thought. Although they'd originally not wanted anything to do with her, it is true.

One thing that really struck me, though, is that for a novel that is touted as an adult romance, the central romance is very poorly developed. The story of how Mollie and Charlie are divided by circumstance and are then reunited for their happy ever after is given a lot of development, perhaps all the more so because it is central to the temporary estrangement between Mollie and Jean. But the central romance of the novel should be Jean's, as she is the lead character, yet her happy ending is tremendously rushed. EBD spends a lot of time portraying the breakdown of her budding relationship with Dr Kenneth - almost too much, in fact, as there is almost no positive interaction between them whatsoever. They have a few very vicious arguments...and then fall into each other's arms mid-crisis and that's that. We aren't actually shown them being happy together, only told that of course they are now they've admitted that they are in love. We aren't shown them working their way past the issues that earlier divided them, the way we were with Mollie-Charlie-Jean. It's a real weakness of the last chapter or so, which is extremely rushed, cramming a huge amount of development into a very few pages!

But of course, this is not a story that EBD actually intended to be published as a novel. She might have wanted to rework it slightly if she had...or then again, maybe not, knowing her!

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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2012, 08:58 
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I've always though the end of the book was very rushed and the the newspaper it was being serialised in maybe asked for it to be wound up sooner than EBD had anticipated. However I can't remember if this is a conclusion I've reached myself or if I read it somewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2012, 10:19 
Considering that it was a serial, it still reads very well as a whole book, doesn't it? A serial would have to end each week with some kind of tension, and to start the next week with (possibly) of a brief recap of whatever the tension was, and then resolve it. This could make the whole thing read in a very stop-start manner, but on the whole I found it read much more smoothly.

There were a couple of times when I became aware that it was the end of a week's episode, but generally it read well as a whole book.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 28 Apr 2012, 19:43 
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The ending felt very rushed, though; I assume she was trying to tie up all loose ends before the serial came to an end.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 14 May 2012, 23:02 
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Llywela wrote:
I haven't finished reading the book, but one thing that really struck me about the first few chapters is how casually the two young orphans are separated. They have different fathers so are blithely sent off to these different families, all complete strangers to them, without question or hesitation. In today's society, I think more effort would be made to keep the siblings together.


A similar thing happened with my uncle after his mother died. For some reason the father couldn't look after him or his sister so my grandparents adopted him but the sister went to live with another relative. As my grandparents already had two girls of a similar age there was no reason why the two children couldn't have been kept together. I've always wonderd why they split them up but I guess there must have been some reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 15 May 2012, 07:22 
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It seems very harsh but I can understand the thinking behind sending them to their "own" relations - it's ages since I read the book, but IIRC there were no relatives on the mother's side so they were each sent to the relatives of their (different) fathers, but correct me if I'm wrong! - but I really didn't like Jean's very negative reaction when her step-niece asked about when she'd be able to come and visit her half-sister, and I thought it was really horrible that she wouldn't let her step-niece call her "Auntie". I can just about understand someone not wanting to be called Mum/Dad/Grandma/Grandad by a step-relative, but most people are quite happy to be called Auntie/Uncle by friends' children, children's friends, the little boy/girl who lives down the lane, etc, so why not by a step-niece :( ?

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 Post subject: Re: Jean of Storms
PostPosted: 15 May 2012, 10:29 
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I can totally understand the reasons why they initially felt it might be best to send each child to her father's people - sometimes practically has to win out. It's the casual way in which it is discussed that really struck me, though, not the slightest consideration given to the fact that the girls are sisters and each of them is all the other has, now they are orphans, so that separating them is going to be an additional trauma for them. It is no doubt a very accurate reading on how such a situation would have been handled at the time, it just reads as quite cold.

But then Jean is later so concerned for Kirsty, and takes her on so willingly after all, that it makes up for the initial coldness.

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