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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 20:24 
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Joined: 20 Jan 2004, 00:49
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I know that the first time I read this one I was so shocked by the Ku Klux Klan concept that it was hard to see the rest of the book. My guess is that EBD got her information from the notorious "South will rise again" romances rather than from Elsie, who made it quite clear that the KKK were beyond the pale.

The other problem I had is with Vera, who must have had all kinds of backstory that told Miss Browne that leniency would have no effect. Unfortunately, we don't see it -- unless she's in some non-CS book? As far as I know, the CS girls never even meet the girl, unless she's one of the unnamed insult flingers; Vera suddenly replaces Doris Potts as Elaine's sidekick on p. 112 with a line on her snobbishness, helps precipitate the "no skating" ban and Maureen's escapade, and then disappears until uncovered as anonymous letter-writer with mind contaminated by impure book. I could understand it if it were Elaine, who'd been piling evil upon evil since first contact, but she meekly reforms after Vera's expulsion. Also I don't think poor Maureen, whom we've come to like via her bonding with Deira and standing up to Elaine, ever recovers, despite her convalescence in the Riviera.

However, I enjoy the way this book builds on prior volumes -- not just larger events like Dick & Mollie's visit, but details such as Frieda's worry over die Grossmutter - and that the quartet begins to gel. Frieda especially gains agency, and who would have thought that Simone would be the one to propose the corn flour incident? The weighing of relative ethics before Joey & Frieda go to the skaters' rescue is classic EBD, and I love Robin's curative powers.:D Actually, even in more ordinary illnesses, I'd find singing visitors more healing than those bearing chat or worry.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 21:55 
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Kathy_S wrote:
The other problem I had is with Vera, who must have had all kinds of backstory that told Miss Browne that leniency would have no effect. Unfortunately, we don't see it -- unless she's in some non-CS book?


Has anyone ever written a St Scholastika's/St Margaret's prequel? As Kathy said, it sounds as if there was some sort of back story with Vera, that meant she was on her last chance. And why did Miss Browne, who definitely doesn't seem like someone who would choose risk and adventure over security, uproot a thriving school and move it abroad? There's no suggestion that she had any connections in Austria. And why was she so reliant on Elaine? There's definitely a tale to be told there, if anyone's got time and inspiration :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2017, 18:01 
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Alison H wrote:
Has anyone ever written a St Scholastika's/St Margaret's prequel? As Kathy said, it sounds as if there was some sort of back story with Vera, that meant she was on her last chance. And why did Miss Browne, who definitely doesn't seem like someone who would choose risk and adventure over security, uproot a thriving school and move it abroad? There's no suggestion that she had any connections in Austria. And why was she so reliant on Elaine? There's definitely a tale to be told there, if anyone's got time and inspiration :D .


*sprinkles lots of food for plot bunnies and nudges Alison H*

Can't do it myself, moving house in a couple of weeks time.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Feb 2017, 14:27 
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Mrs Redboots wrote:
Loryat wrote:
ETA - the thing that annoys me is that Vera's a snob, and clearly nouveau riche. Because the 'real' rich aren't snobs, of course.


Nouveaux riches are a very great deal more likely to be snobbish than those whose wealth is inherited! Although that's a totally sweeping statement, too! Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of truth in it.

I don't know. When I read books of that time the authors are clearly snobbish but they don't even realise it. So. I take their accusations of snobbishness by the nouveau riche with a pinch of salt.

Alison H wrote:
Kathy_S wrote:
The other problem I had is with Vera, who must have had all kinds of backstory that told Miss Browne that leniency would have no effect. Unfortunately, we don't see it -- unless she's in some non-CS book?


Has anyone ever written a St Scholastika's/St Margaret's prequel? As Kathy said, it sounds as if there was some sort of back story with Vera, that meant she was on her last chance. And why did Miss Browne, who definitely doesn't seem like someone who would choose risk and adventure over security, uproot a thriving school and move it abroad? There's no suggestion that she had any connections in Austria. And why was she so reliant on Elaine? There's definitely a tale to be told there, if anyone's got time and inspiration :D .

Yes, I love the little scenes we get in St Scholistikas - I think almost as much story takes place there as in the CS. It would definitely be good to see more of them.

Alison H wrote:
I still don't get why Joey was supposed to appeal to her. But I think EBD was keen to have Joey involved in everything. I'd have liked to see someone else get the dramatic storyline for once. Not that I wish a near-fatal illness on Marie or Frieda or Simone or anyone else :lol:, but how many times does Joey nearly die in the first few books?

I used to feel exactly the same!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2017, 13:45 
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Joey has good credentials. She is best friends with the Princess (and I still find that unlikely, given that there are 2 years odd between their ages, and we scarcely hear about Elisaveta other than in Princess and Camp) and has met both recent kings of Belsornia. She is the sister of the owner, founder and first Head Mistress of the Chalet School, and sister-in-law to the great Dr Jem, founder and head of the sanatorium on the Sonnalpe. He has lots of "great authority on..." contacts. And has the local count (Marie's future husband) already officiated at one of the CS garden parties by this point, or is that later?

There is plenty of snob-fodder to give Vera cause to bend her knee, but I'm not sure how she would know about any of it. At 16-ish I had no idea of the associations of most of my own school class, let alone those of the kids at the neighbouring school. But then, I suppose that kind of thing wasn't very important to me and my friends. Vera would have soaked up any gossip that she heard.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 19:04 
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Setting aside the melodramas of Joey's near death experience, and the Robin's miraculous singing, my favourite parts of this book come with Jo's recovery and Madge's return to school with her baby. Briefly, it feels like the 'school family' is complete again, and one of my all time favourite pranks is the flouring of the hair!

You've got to love Madge for her ability to make the punishment fit the crime!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Rivals of the Chalet School
PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 14:22 
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I always feel that EBD decided that another school by the lake would be a good plot device and then, being EBD, she overdid it making the school a bit too much of a contrast - and not in a good way. The uniform is 'arty,' the old-fashioned Head rather timid about expeditions and walks, against Guides, no attempt to embrace local culture and no specialisation in languages which makes the CS shine. It's almost as though EBD is saying: 'Look at my school - isn't it wonderful?' It's natural that there would be some rivalry and that works well as a new plot interest, but the Saints are mainly stereo-types expecting the 'foreign' girls to be useless at games for instance. As a child reader though I was very much for team CS and glad that they were superior to the new school.


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