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 Post subject: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 16 Jan 2017, 19:15 
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This week is book #2, Jo of the Chalet School, published in 1926. This picks up near enough where School At left off, covering the school's first winter and Easter terms. Notable events in this book include:
The introduction of the Robin
The school magazine, first posited in School At, comes into fruition
Rufus is rescued from the lake by Joey and Eigen
The introduction of Mr and Miss Denny
The Shakespeariana language prank
Jo catches a major cold after standing at the front door for a minute
The Hobbies club starts up
The school has its first Nativity Play
Madge, Jo and Robin spend Christmas with the Mensch family in Innsbruck
Grizel's grandmother dies
Dick Bettany gets engaged to Mollie Avery
Jo leads a group of Middles in disobeying Madge to go to the ice carnival held on the lake, and narrowly avoids being mowed down by Jem, who happens to be handily hanging around in the area and dashes to the rescue
Jo writes an Elsie book, which Jem subsequently enters into a competition on her behalf, gaining her a prize and setting her off on a new career idea
The school Guide company is started up
Robin falls into a stream and is rescued by Jo and Rufus (and, once again, Jem conveniently shows up to offer his services :wink: )
The river floods during a storm
Jo manages to jump across a four feet ditch plus the lake path and dunk herself right into the lake
Madge and Jem get engaged, and Jem sets the San in motion

Phew!

So, an action-packed couple of terms here, what are your thoughts? We have the introduction of signature character Robin, who goes on to feature in every book from here up to the end of the war years and becomes a major player in the series during the war - what do you think of her (and the way everyone else treats her)? Is it really realistic that Jo would have caught a cold standing at the front door for a minute? This is the book that features the Bettanys enjoying Christmas in Innsbruck with the Mensches; what's your favourite part?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 16 Jan 2017, 20:22 
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Christmas in Innsbruck is definitely my favourite bit. I also like the scene in which Jo gets the wrong end of the stick, thinks Jem's marrying someone else, and starts calling him names! It's quite sweet. And the school's a real part of the community in this book: Herr Braun and Herr Pfeifen both come round to check everything's OK after the flood.

The San being set up really changes the school's future. How would things have been different without it?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 16 Jan 2017, 22:39 
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This book follows on from the first and is bursting with ideas.

The first Christmas is gorgeous and I love all the descriptions. Also the comparisons between the comfortably off Mensches (sp?) and Bettanys and treatment of domestic staff 90 years ago. Are some things any better?

I love Rufus but I am mainly immune to the charms of Robin.

What I really like about this book though is the "proper" courtship of Madge and Jem. Proper in that it was above board but also proper in that it went on for a proper length of time as did their engagement. This was unlike other characters who hardly knew each other when they were agreeing to marry.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 05:07 
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Aquabird wrote:
Is it really realistic that Jo would have caught a cold standing at the front door for a minute?


It is actually. When I was younger, I had horrible asthma attacks which could be set off simply by inhaling some pollen. My mother was terrified to let me out of doors without an inhaler and a face mask.

Joey clearly has a predisposition to pneumonia and the slightest thing can set it off. If she was perfectly healthy and had never been ill beforehand then that would be more unrealistic.

I absolutely love the Christmas episode in this book. It just evokes a much more innocent time before Christmas became so commercialised.

cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 09:22 
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Given that the temperature could easily have been minus ten or below, and coupled with Joey's chest problems, I am not at all surprised she became ill. It's not really a cold in the sense we know it nowadays though....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 16:54 
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The whole Robin storyline is preposterous, from Captain Humphreys finding Madge in the nick of time, to Miss Maynard being able to carry a six-year old swaddled like a newborn, to said six-year old waking in a strange place to strange faces, and asking straightaway who would bath her, and then sleeping in a cot...
And her conversation with Die Grossmutter is worthy of Little Nell!
But I love the way the school is growing and developing, I like the love story, and Joey is still a likeable character, especially in the rescue of Rufus. Maybe my favourite character of all is Zita...


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 18:11 
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I did find it strange that a six year old child slept in a cot, but perhaps a cot then was different to what we think of now.My daughters cot was old fashioned and quite large but a six year old would not have fitted in it with any comfort.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 18:39 
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I think of this sort of cot as a small, light, mobile bed that can be wheeled in or out as needed, not a baby's cot. I was offered one once when I stayed in hospital with my daughter, so I could sleep beside her.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 19:29 
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I've heard of camp beds being called 'cots' especially in the Army, but Robin has to be lifted out. EBD wants us to adore Robin but her idea of a perfect child is too Victorian.
Otherwise, Jo Of is lovely and packed with good stories and probably my favourite.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 20:01 
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Dictionary definitions of cot:
noun
1.
a light portable bed, especially one of canvas on a folding frame.
2.
British. a child's crib.
3.
a light bedstead.
4.
Nautical. a hammocklike bed stiffened by a suspended frame.

Elsewhere I also found "a plain narrow bed"...

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 20:13 
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This was one of the last CS books I read - other than the very last few, which hadn't then been published. Our local public library didn't have it, so I didn't read it until Armada brought it out and my sister bought it.

It's just as good as School At, I think, with enough new things happening to give a continuing sense of forward momentum, and Jo at her most likeable and engaging.

There isn't an overall plot, but there's no shortage of incident to keep the book going over two terms and the holiday.

It's interesting to contrast Jo's illness here with the way Robin is treated later in the series. Madge is worried, of course, but she's quite brisk and matter of fact about it to Jo, and tells her it's her own fault. Jo isn't coddled or given special treatment or encouraged to think of herself as an invalid or delicate.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Jan 2017, 20:18 
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JayB wrote:

It's interesting to contrast Jo's illness here with the way Robin is treated later in the series. Madge is worried, of course, but she's quite brisk and matter of fact about it to Jo, and tells her it's her own fault. Jo isn't coddled or given special treatment or encouraged to think of herself as an invalid or delicate.

Is that something to do with the fact that Jo is "hers" and the Robin isn't? She has to be far more careful of the Robin since she has been entrusted with her care.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2017, 04:16 
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Jo of is the book that first drew me into the CS, and is still one of the volumes I read the most often -- and not just at Christmas, although I do love those scenes. The way that school and family intertwine in this volume is particularly fine.

Quote:
Jo writes an Elsie book, which Jem subsequently enters into a competition on her behalf, gaining her a prize and setting her off on a new career idea
The contest winner was actually the folk tale Miss Maynard found under Jo's desk and included in the Chaletian, though I have to admit I was more amused by Jo's version of Elsie's style :lol:.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2017, 12:16 
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This was the first CS book I read. I think it moves on beautifully from School At and I love the romance between Madge and Jem. As someone has already said, it was developed properly over a realistic timescale with Jem becoming very much part of Madge's life before they became engaged. So different from some of the ridiculously hasty engagements of later books.

The Robin is ridiculously babyfied, which continued right up until Exile when EBD finally let her act her age.

But definitely this is one of the strong books of the series.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2017, 14:53 
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This was one of the first CS books I read, and I still love going back to it.

I love the glimpses of life in Tirol at that time - I think EBD really captured something of what it was like to live in that culture, and it's not wholly romanticised either - we hear about the real risk of food and fuel poverty, and see the impact of this both in the treatment of Rufus and Zita, and in the little girl given money by Joey on Christmas Eve.

It took me years to work out that the Robin was 6 years old - I have no doubt it says so in the text, but she is definitely written more like a 3 year old. She is an interesting character in this book because she is new, and we see Joey developing an older sister feeling to her, but in later books the constant infantilisation does start to pall.

I do wonder how a few minutes at an open door can cause pneumonia, while lying unconscious on the cold ice and full immersion in a freezing lake caused no particular issues.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2017, 17:02 
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Quote:
Is that something to do with the fact that Jo is "hers" and the Robin isn't? She has to be far more careful of the Robin since she has been entrusted with her care.

It's Jem who comes up with the regime, and Ted Humphries was there too, so I suppose Madge just had to go along with it.

But it seems to be a backwards step on EBD's part. When we first meet Jo in School At, her health genuinely is giving cause for concern - she's had at least one serious illness, is white faced, has a nasty cough. Yet all that's needed in her case is a healthy lifestyle in the fresh air with a bit of common sense about taking care of herself. And there's no indication in Jo Of that Robin is delicate, is there?

Yet a few years later Robin, who has never actually been ill, is supposedly so frail that she can't even be punished for naughtiness.

I suppose the real answer is that Jo was the heroine of the series, and there'd be no adventures if she was never allowed to do anything. It's noticeable that Robin's health miraculously ceases to be a cause for concern in Exile, when she is needed to play a central role in the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2017, 02:16 
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I tend to think of School At and Jo Of as a unit, covering the first year of the school and establishment of most of its long-running traditions (Guides, magazine, hobbies club, Nativity play, folk dancing). They're also wonderfully atmospheric, with the Tyrol being new and exciting.

I find Robin not too bad if I picture her as a few years younger than her real age So in Jo Of, I picture her as about three, and when she's ten, I picture her as about five. That, and recognizing the very Victorian angel-child portrayal, although by that standard, she really should have died young. Some of Susan Coolidge's short stories feature children of that variety, if I remember correctly.

I'm familiar with "cot" as meaning a folding bed, of camp/Army variety. But that's not really something you'd put a small child to sleep on in winter, even without health problems - it's basically canvas stretched on a folding frame, and rather drafty. If you Google image search "cot" it comes up at half cribs and half what I would think of as a cot.

One thing I find interesting maturity wise, is that Joey and her age-mates seem much older when compared to students of the same age in later books. The quartette, Margia, etc. are 11 or 12, but seem much older and more independent than, say, Jack's gang when first introduced, or Mary-Lou's gang at the same age - I picture them as being more like 13 and 14 year olds in later books. And they have responsible prefects who are fourteen and fifteen, when in the Swiss days they would be in Inter V, and just staring to mature out of mischievous middle territory.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2017, 13:22 
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I like that fact that, because the school is smaller, the girls are allowed more individuality. Joey, Margia and Grizel seem much more adventurous, curious and free spirited than later central characters such as Mary Lou, Peggy, or the Lucys. The school isn't as structured as it has to become in future years, and EBD has more rein to make each character interesting in their own right.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Jan 2017, 19:14 
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I dislike EBD's portrayal of small children, it is the same with the triplets when they are small. I wonder how much she was around small children?

I like the Shakespeariana prank very much and the way the prefects are so flabbergasted by it all. Isn't there a similar prank when the school is at Plas Howell? And the prefects go completely over the top in dealing with it.

I love the Christmas scenes, I think these are evidence of EBD at her best.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Jan 2017, 21:14 
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Elle wrote:
I like the Shakespeariana prank very much and the way the prefects are so flabbergasted by it all. Isn't there a similar prank when the school is at Plas Howell? And the prefects go completely over the top in dealing with it.


Yes, in Peggy they go Regency with the help of Georgette Heyer but I have always thought that the prefects dealt with it rather cleverly...

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