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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 14 Jan 2017, 22:43 
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Annied wrote:
(Did EBD ever mention Almabtrieb - bringing the cows down from the high pastures for the winter?)


She mentions the cows coming (or being brought) down from the high pastures but only in passing and usually with reference to the hardship that causes the herdsmen. She never mentions any events or festivities connected with it


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 15 Jan 2017, 05:13 
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I read this book for the first time when I was 8 years old and it was love at first read. I was already a school story veteran by then and, having read and loved the Heidi stories, was a huge fan of mountains and lakes. At the time I accepted all that was in the story without any cringing or criticism and I have to admit that I'm still influenced by how I felt then. Now I could wonder about immigration requirements at the time, the ease with which suitable premises were acquired, the ability of all these Austrian girls to speak reasonable English, Joey's expertise where German is concerned and so on but when I re-read the story I'm escaping back to my 8 year old self and I try not to allow my adult self get in the way.

Having said that, I think that very solid foundations were laid down in this story with regard to the ethos of the school, the relationship between teachers, head girl, prefects and the general student body, what was acceptable behaviour etc etc. I don't think it was anticipated that this story would extend beyond maybe two or three more so characters are quite sharply drawn and events move along quite quickly - including the introduction of Jem to ensure Madge's "happy ending". Adventure and conflict (Juliet) are included to make a thumping good read. The groundwork has now been clearly laid and characters established for ensuing stories.

The School at the Chalet is still my favourite book of the series and because of the wonderful descriptions one of my earliest trips abroad included a few days in Innsbruck (at the time I didn't know that Tiernsee was based on a real place). I have since returned and had a lovely "nostalgic" time travelling on the mountain railway to Achensee and rambling around Pertisau with a bag of Chalet School books as my companions.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2017, 14:52 
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jennifer wrote:
I can see Madge originally thinking of a school much like the Angela Brazil ones - 20 or 30 students, mostly between the ages of about 11 and 17, with basic academics, healthy exercise, and some genteel accomplishments. Then she lucks out by making a few good connections with local families who for some reason want their daughters to have an English education, and who then refer relatives and connections. Not to mention random vacationing people who decide to drop their kids off at a newly established school and leave the country.


:lol:

I do always wonder why it is that the Carricks leaving Juliet behind is deadly suspicious, whereas the Stevenses leaving Amy and Margia isn't. Since Mr Stevens is a well known journalist, is it possible Madge is being just a wee bit snobby?

I just read Vanity Fair, maybe that's colouring my interpretation. :D

Alison H wrote:
I think it was quite common at the time for people like Madge and Miss Browne, fairly genteel women who for whatever reason found themselves without means of financial support, to set up schools. The sort of school that EBD herself went to sounds like it was one of them. How Simone and Juliet got into university is a bit of a mystery :roll:,


I don't find it too strange. By the time Simone is leaving she will have been taught by university educated teachers for much of her school career. Juliet is maybe more questionable, but didn't Vera Brittain get into university after only being homeschooled about ten years earlier?

I think I differ from everyone else in that School At isn't one of my absolute favourites. I do love it, but my favourite period is when the school is larger but still seems 'homey' - Head Girl to Exile, probably.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2017, 00:27 
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Loryat wrote:

I do always wonder why it is that the Carricks leaving Juliet behind is deadly suspicious, whereas the Stevenses leaving Amy and Margia isn't. Since Mr Stevens is a well known journalist, is it possible Madge is being just a wee bit snobby?



It seems to me quite reasonable. Mr Stevens is a well-known journalist, he's got a known employer and, therefore, some kind of income. It's doubtful that he's going to be absconding without paying his children's fees when he can be easily traced (and doing so is likely to affect his future employment). The Carricks, on the other hand, are completely unknown quantities who have to be taken at their word. Nothing whatsoever is known about them except what they have told Madge. Really, you'ld expect someone like that to provide references - and for those references to be checked. Madge does check out their story but too late for it to do her any good.

That doesn't strike me as "snobby", it strikes me as good sense.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2017, 04:40 
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The Mercier girls came to the school much like Juliet - they were staying in the area, the girls came as day girls, then their parents had to leave suddenly due to a family illness, and they are then boarders. And I don't think that their parents were any more well known than the Carricks.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2017, 08:55 
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I think the fact that Captain Carrick had been an officer in the army would carry quite a bit of kudos/snob value.

There is a lot of snobbishness in the books, but I honestly don't think it applies in this case - I think the idea is that there's something suspicious about the Carricks' manner and behaviour. It's very 1920s - the idea of the gentleman cad! And Madge misses the obvious clue :lol: - that Mrs Carrick is fashionably dressed. Dedicated followers of fashion are very suspect in CS-land!

It annoys me when, in Problem, we're presumably meant to think that Joan Baker's grandfather offering to provide bank references is a sign that he's Not One Of Us, because surely a gentleman should be taken at his word, etc. Admittedly most people wouldn't abandon a child :shock:, but private schools have a lot of problems with bad debts and asking for some sort of credit reference is exactly what the CS should have been doing!

I think it's good that Madge is shown to be naïve and make mistakes, but in a way that doesn't at all suggest that she's a bad headmistress or a bad person. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they're just starting out. There've been comments about fill-in writers feeling uncomfortable about writing about Marilyn Evans because it'd mean showing the CS authorities making a bad choice, and that's how it feels later on - that the authorities can't do anything wrong. I'd much rather see a story in which someone makes a genuine error of judgement, as Madge does with the Carricks. No-one's all-wise and all-knowing. We all screw up sometimes :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2017, 12:31 
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Quote:
By the time Simone is leaving she will have been taught by university educated teachers for much of her school career. Juliet is maybe more questionable, but didn't Vera Brittain get into university after only being homeschooled about ten years earlier?

Vera Brittain attended adult ed. lectures, and I think wrote essays and possibly even took an external exam.

Juliet was taught by a maths specialist from the time she arrived at the CS. It's Mary Burnett who missed out, really. She went off to do history at university, but the school had no history specialist until Rivals, when she was in her final year at school. Who taught history before Miss Stewart arrived?

If Mary always had university ambitions, she might have been better staying at Taverton High.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2017, 14:23 
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In Head Girl isn't Mary planning on doing languages? I guess that would have worked with her time at the CS. Then later on EBD forgot/wilfully changed it.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2017, 15:31 
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There is, of course, always the dreaded Entrance Examination.

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A certain edge when she spoke of Mrs Maynard, certainly, but, after all, not everyone could love Joey.
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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 14 Jan 2018, 11:24 
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A very tardy reply. But I've just started to re-read the series. In fact I've never read the series end to end. When I first started reading CS I read books as I was able to acquire them, and when I did finally get a complete set of Armadas, I eventually gave up the read through in the later Swiss books.

It is proving a quite new experience. I've just read Helen Barber's "Bettany's on the Home Front" to ease in to the series, and while last time I read an Armada version, this time I have the GGBP version - though I'm not sure what I've missed.

There's a lot of information at the front of the GGBP publication - even though we've been to Pertisau there was a lot of new stuff there. So many times we've climbed up the road to the Rondelhütte for milk or hot chocolate, never realising it's one of the first locations mentioned in the series! Likewise, having attempted the walk around the lake a couple of times I hadn't realised EBD reduced it in size for the books!

The "Tiroler Hof" hotel is mentioned several times at the start of the book and described as the largest hotel in Brisau, I'm thinking this is probably the Alpenhof. Somehow I'd though it never got a mention in the series.

There is a magic in the first book. I can't really put my finger on it - the descriptions of the geography and people probably play a large part. In some ways it isn't that well written, being at time a series of vignettes - though there are some strands of the growth of the school and Grizel's plans on mountaineering.

I love the international feel of the book - with Gisela as head girl and the other prefects. I love the character of Herr Marani, especially his love of the Tirol.

ETA: I forgot to mention the other thing which surprised me was how many of the classic stories are in this first volume - the heilliges wasser, Frau Berlin, smoky garlic milk, stranded in a herdsman's hut, Grizel's mountaineering.

As I read it's clear how the quartette is forming, I'm at the point where Marie von Eschenau is just about to join the school. Grizel has known Joey from Taverton and is not part of it which is quite sad for her as she does seem to be at a key point where her friends are key to the direction she heads in.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 14 Jan 2018, 22:29 
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I have not read this book for a while but I agree there is something magical about it. Part of it, I think, was because the book was brimming over with new ideas and ways in which to develop the school.

Tirol Madge also had a fairy tale quality about her which disappears in Exile when we see her making the Christmas cake - the like of this was never seen in the Tirol books. Maybe it was the Tirol which had the fairy tale quality.

The books also benefited from having such a wide variety of characters, not only the pupils and staff (few!) but also the families of the girls, the domestic staff, doctors (!), other local people etc.

In some ways, too, this book is ageless. It is amazing to think it was written nearly one hundred years ago. Maids of La Rochelle was written at much the same time but is so dated compared to this.

A marvellous book.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 15 Jan 2018, 14:53 
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I think that 'School at' is one of the best, as it shows Madge as a vibrant, energetic young woman who willingly accepts responsibilities, and who has courage and determination.

Compared to her, Jo as a young woman, a mother and a doctor's wife, is positively feeble, needing cossetting and demanding help from everyone.

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A certain edge when she spoke of Mrs Maynard, certainly, but, after all, not everyone could love Joey.
'Life,' said Marvin, 'don't talk to me about life!'


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2018, 15:07 
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Annied wrote:
Alison H wrote:
I think my favourite part of the book is how excited Grizel is at seeing new and different places. I'd love to have been able to see Europe in the days before there were Starbucks and McDonald's and signs in English everywhere! Not that I don't like Starbucks and McDonald's :lol:, but that feeling of being somewhere totally new and different's a lot harder to find these days.


All is not lost! Certainly if you stick to the villages in southern Germany and Austria, I really don't think all that much has changed in nearly a century. There are still the painted houses, family owned shops and the feeling that you've gone back in time. When I'm in Oberaudorf I half expect to see a crocodile of Chalet School pupils come round the corner at any moment. (That's when I'm not expecting to see Steve McQueen roar across the countryside on his bike, or the von Trapp family appear over the brow of a hill.) Even a lot of the towns are still very traditional. I'm really envious too, at how many of the old traditions are still going strong. (Did EBD ever mention Almabtrieb - bringing the cows down from the high pastures for the winter?)

Just chiming in to say that when I went to Oberammergau with my mum last year, it was just like something out of the CS. I half expected a gang of naughty middles to pop up. It's a really beautiful little town and there's loads of local craftspeople and Catholic imagery / fairytale art everywhere. And the scenery is beautiful, with the mountains in the background. I think Mum got fed up with me going on about how I felt like I was in a CS book.

As for the book, it's one of the reasons why I love Madge. Going across Europe to a foreign country, with your sick little sister and another girl in tow, to start a school was a brave move. Gisela is also one of my favourite head girls precisely because of how she handles Grizel and Juliet. She's determined not to cave in.

I also like how Madge is savvy enough to make the effort to get to know local families and businesspeople (such as Herr Braun) - not only to get potential pupils, but also so she can learn the customs of the area, what the weather is like, things to be careful about, and so on. Everything Miss Browne DOESN'T do in Rivals. And it pays off, because the Maranis and Mensches like her, and they put the word about and it gets her more pupils, as we see in the next book.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The School at the Chalet
PostPosted: 18 Feb 2018, 03:49 
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Brilliant post Lotte. Captured the early CS exactly as it was. I was also in Oberammergau last year although only for a couple of hours. We wandered around though and went into the theatre. I have hopes of seeing the play in 2020 but we will see.


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