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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2021, 12:36 
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Jennifer said "Interestingly, Robin isn't delicate in the first book she appears in - she's younger than the rest, but perfectly healthy." But when she is very first introduced, when Miss Maynard brings her up from Innsbruck, Madge does say 'I don't want her out in this awful wind any longer than can be helped. Remember she's not accustomed to it as you are, and she's not very strong.'

There is also a suggestion that Jo should remain at the Annex, in And Jo, but they decide that it would be too much for her emotionally to be so close to the San all the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 18 Feb 2021, 15:41 
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Mabel wrote:
Jennifer said "Interestingly, Robin isn't delicate in the first book she appears in - she's younger than the rest, but perfectly healthy." But when she is very first introduced, when Miss Maynard brings her up from Innsbruck, Madge does say 'I don't want her out in this awful wind any longer than can be helped. Remember she's not accustomed to it as you are, and she's not very strong.'


They say that the Robin is not strong, but the descriptions of her don't fit with that. She's repeatedly described as rosy, and has also been described as roly-poly. She had outgrown her "baby chubbiness" as of The Chalet School and Jo, which indicates that she was chubby before that. Compare this to Joey when we meet her. Joey, at twelve, is thin, with a white face, and cheeks and temples hollow from continual illness. The morning after her arrival at the Chalet School, Robin likes walking very much, and is shown dancing down the path, shrieking for joy. Joey has a bad fit of coughing that leaves her exhausted after she runs down the stairs.

EBD shows that Joey isn't strong but with the Robin, she tells rather than shows.

Perhaps she wanted the Robin to be a delicate child who could be babied and coddled, but she also wanted her rosy, cherubic angel child.


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2021, 14:48 
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At first they take special care of Robin because she's so much younger that the other students, and is missing her parents, rather than being deathly frail.

It's amazing Robin turns out so sane and well grounded, between the obsession with her health, the being babied and regimented, and the way everyone, including random strangers, raves over her angelic good looks.

Sybil, who has the beauty thing going on, is so stuck up by age eight that she needs a major disaster to take her down a peg. And Margot, who has the poor health thing as a young child, ends up self centred, impulsive and lazy.

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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2021, 15:30 
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That's why I like adult Robin so much! She could have become an absolute horror, but she's lovely. And brave.


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2021, 17:48 
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Interesting that delicate Margot gets spoilt by being allowed to have her own way but delicate Robin was brought up specifically to do as she was told and turns out a much nicer person.

With Sybil, the situation seems to be more complex in that she's trying to keep up her own end in a very extended family where her parents are engaged in a delicate balancing act of making all the children feel wanted and loved without being seen to favour their own. That she plays on her own good looks feels like a way of distinguishing herself positively from her cousins (as, indeed, does her insistence on being the daughter of the house). In general, the Russells come across as better parents overall judging by their results (even Margot seems to do better when she's with them) with the two exceptions - Joey who must have got a great deal of her parenting from other people initially such as their Guardian and a nurse or nanny and where Madge lacked the experience of age and Sybil, where Madge got caught in a very difficult parenting balance and went perhaps too far in the wrong way.

Edit to correct spelling


Last edited by Victoria on 28 Feb 2021, 18:27, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2021, 18:35 
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I think the Russells are in a very difficult position. Auntie Kath in Stepsisters for Lorna goes the other way and blatantly favours Lorna, not even letting the stepsisters call her "auntie". It's a different situation in that she's known Lorna, her own niece, since birth, whereas the other two girls are her sister's new husband's daughters and are dumped on her in their teens, but it's hardly the girls' fault.

There are surprisingly few situations like this in CS-land, considering how many parents EBD bumps off - a lot of girls are left with single aunts and cousins, but very few end up living with cousins their own age. The Rutherfords cope by finding a school which suits Nina's needs. The Trevanions just want rid of Eustacia and send her away. Mrs Sefton, formerly Wayne, gives Rosamund a lot more attention than Jessica, but that again is a different situation because Rosamund needs more attention due to her disability. Poor Sue Meadows is very much a second class citizen in the Elstob household. But none of them grow up with their cousins from babyhood.

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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 22 Feb 2021, 00:34 
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I know people think that Joey's bronchitis after she got so chilled is OTT, but I do know that if you get really chilled - I don't mean just cold, but shivery, too - it can be very difficult to warm up. I don't think Joey nearly died with that one - not like she did later, in Rivals - but bronchitis couldn't be taken lightly in pre-antibiotic days, and if she was a bit chesty anyway.....

I know the air in the Alps is brilliant and helping one feel better. After I'd had Covid-19, nearly a year ago now, I was in the state where I'm quite sure a doctor in EBD's world would have sent me to the Alps for 6 months... as it was, we did manage 6 days, and it made a huge difference. I am beginning to need to go again, and hope we'll be able to this year.


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2021, 11:33 
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I've not been up the Alps but I've been on a few hill walks in my time and agree that fresh air on higher ground is very invigorating. Same with seaside air - I love going for walks along the piers when I'm on holiday in Blackpool. It's that sea breeze, I guess. I'm glad you're feeling better btw.

Robin is a lot more biddable than Margot as well. If Margot had had to adhere to Jem's strict regime, she'd have whinged and moaned a lot more whereas Robin generally just gets on with it, though I think there are points where it gets a bit much. She is a little kid, to be fair. One of the GGBP books has a short story about Robin having to undergo tests and it does get to her.


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2021, 14:25 
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Lotte wrote:
Robin is a lot more biddable than Margot as well...


In a way, we don't know that. We do know that Robin was more biddable at 6 than Margot appears to have been at the same age but by that point Margot had already been spoilt because of her health whereas there's no indication that the Robin was.

Given that Margot goes to Canada with the Russells presumably she was subject to Jem's regime during that time. Perhaps she did whinge and complain but, if her tantrums weren't effective (as they were - and continued to be - among her own family) she's likely to give up bothering with them. Her health certainly improved tremendously and the entire credit for that can't just be given to a change of air surely?


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2021, 17:16 
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Lotte wrote:
One of the GGBP books has a short story about Robin having to undergo tests and it does get to her.


It's mention in The Chalet School and Jo too. They've test the Robin in every way they can, and she's out of sorts.

Victoria wrote:
With Sybil, the sitatuation seems to be more complex in that she's trying to keep up her own end in a very extended family where her parents are engaged in a delicate balancing act of making all the children feel wanted and loved without being seen to favour their own. That she plays on her own good looks feels like a way of distinguishing herself positively from her cousins (as, indeed, does her insistence on being the daughter of the house).


Madge ended up with quite a crowded nursery. When Sybil was a baby and toddler, there was Peggy, Rix, Bride, Jack, David and Primula to compete with for attention, as well as the Robin. Being one of the youngest, if not the youngest (I can't remember if Jack was older or younger than Sybil) probably put her at a disadvantage when it came to claiming a share of Madge's attention. Add in that Peggy (after measles) and Primula were delicate, and Madge had her hands full.

It's no surprise that Sybil would be eager to latch onto anything that allowed her to set herself apart, whether it was her looks or being the only daughter of the house.


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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 24 Feb 2021, 23:45 
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There seems to be an idea that you "outgrow your childish delicacy". When the Annexe is set up, all the girls there are aged 12 or under.

It's interesting how Verity becomes "not strong" in the later books, as well as being "a broken reed", presumably because EBD wanted to emphasise the contrast between her and Mary-Lou. She was in perfect health when she first arrived, as well as having a strong personality! I think Robin's "delicacy", by contrast, fades out because she's needed in an important role in Exile.

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 Post subject: Re: Were they really that 'delicate'?
PostPosted: 25 Feb 2021, 19:37 
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Alison H wrote:
There seems to be an idea that you "outgrow your childish delicacy". When the Annexe is set up, all the girls there are aged 12 or under.


After Robin's health scare in Eustacia, she's supposed to stay at the Annexe until she is at least fourteen. A convenient way to put her on the bus when too old to be the school baby, and then bring her back once she's old enough to get screen-time (page-time?) as one of the Middles?

Alison H wrote:
It's interesting how Verity becomes "not strong" in the later books, as well as being "a broken reed", presumably because EBD wanted to emphasise the contrast between her and Mary-Lou. She was in perfect health when she first arrived, as well as having a strong personality! I think Robin's "delicacy", by contrast, fades out because she's needed in an important role in Exile.


Perhaps an unintentionally damning illustration of what living with OOAO year-round can do to a person?


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