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 Post subject: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front *INCLUDES SPOILERS*
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 00:27 
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I have only recently seen Aquabird’s post in The School Noticeboard section regarding starting up discussions about the books in the Chalet School series. Aquabird has agreed that I could post about the fill ins and I will play catch up each week until I reach where she is in the series and then we will take it in turns which book comes next (fill in or EBD). I will post the synopsis of the book, along with a couple of questions, to start off the discussion, but please feel free to discuss what you want to about the book (i.e. you don’t need to follow a set theme).

This is the first fill in (taken in chronological order), the second prequel to the Chalet School starting, and the third fill in Helen Barber wrote in EBD’s Chalet School series. In this book Helen focuses primarily on a teenage Madge at the outbreak of the First World War. It’s a year since the Bettany parents have died and Madge, Dick and Joey have been left to their guardian. Whilst he spends most of his time in London, he does allow the three children to live in his home, Greenacres, along with Sarah the maid, and Nanny. Aunt Josie does visit intermittently and does her best to support and help Madge from afar. Fourteen year Madge attends the local High School, where at the beginning of the term, Madge finds herself promoted into the Fifth Form with her closest friend Spider Carthew and a new girl Phyllida, a refugee from Belgium. It’s not all plain sailing as the Fifth Form is already well established with being the winners of the school cup for the previous two terms and with their plans for the Soldiers Comfort Fund. However, Madge and her two friends manage to find a way to make their mark. Madge has her own trials at home for Nanny and Sarah do not get along and Aunt Josie spends some time teaching Madge the art of being tactful and how to manage. It’s a lesson which comes in handy at school when the feelings towards foreigners start to rise once casualties start to come in. We also see the closeness of the relationship between Dick and Madge and the their devotedness with their little sister Joey. And we also meet Grizel as a five year old and the shadow under which she was raised with her mother not being well. And we get to briefly meet her much loved Granny.

So what did people think of this book? Where the characters true to EBD’s creation? Were the relationships true to how EBD portrayed them? Did you like it as a fill in and seeing Madge, future Headmistress of the Chalet School, as a young girl?

Please discuss this and anything else you can think of.

**Spoiler alert added to header - Ruth with mod hat on**

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 08:58 
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Fiona, thanks so much for doing these. Could we perhaps put 'spoiler' in the title of each and accept that the storylines of the book will be discussed in their entirety to avoid conversations being brought to a premature end by someone who doesn't want to know what happens?

To talk about this specific book, I enjoy this a lot, but I wonder if people feel that it is easier to understand after reading Bettanys of Taverton High. Having read that first, I felt like I already 'knew' those characters and so this felt very well peopled for me, but I could see how others might feel that it is hard to know who everyone is without reading the other one.

I love seeing Madge as a school-girl and it is nice to see those situations that will turn her into the Madge Bettany we know from later books. Grizel and Joey as young children are also good fun to see.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 10:14 
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I agree - this is set well before the CS books and most of the characters are unfamiliar and, because Taverton High was written first, the characters are introduced in that book.

I like seeing Madge as a young girl, and found the points made in the foreword (or was it the afterword?) about the deep impact that the Great War would have had on those growing up in its shadow very well-made.

It's quite difficult to relate it to the CS series because only four of the characters in the book feature in the series, Joey and Grizel are both so young here, and EBD tells us so frustratingly little about the Bettanys' background. I've said before that I think it would have made more sense if some of the unnamed aunts' grandchildren had come to stay with Joey in the later books, rather than her acquiring kids at random. But it's so nice to see Madge growing up, and a book that's focused on Madge - she doesn't get nearly enough attention or credit in the main series, IMHO :D.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 15:54 
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Finding out about the Sale
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To me, this felt like a fill-in of a fill-in. Many of the fill-in books provide explanations of events in CS books which are mentioned in passing.

This book, on the other hand, had few links to the CS canon as it's too divorced in time and a number of the events were explanations of references in the previous Taverton High book. (You wo'n't know that's what they are if you haven't read BATH and it doesn't actually make any difference - the book works perfectly well without being familiar with the earlier published book). It's framed by the previous fill-in rather than the CS.

The book's a perfectly nice read but I felt that most of it could have been about any set of characters without detriment to the story. I was disappointed that the visit by Ted Humphries - a piece of canon that belongs to this period - was not mentioned. (I've since learnt that the visit had been covered by the author in a short story so that might be the reason why).

Overall, I didn't like this as much as BATH, and I don't think that I'd bother to read another "pre-CS" book.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 19:48 
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Victoria wrote:
To me, this felt like a fill-in of a fill-in. Many of the fill-in books provide explanations of events in CS books which are mentioned in passing.

This book, on the other hand, had few links to the CS canon as it's too divorced in time and a number of the events were explanations of references in the previous Taverton High book. (You wo'n't know that's what they are if you haven't read BATH and it doesn't actually make any difference - the book works perfectly well without being familiar with the earlier published book). It's framed by the previous fill-in rather than the CS.

The book's a perfectly nice read but I felt that most of it could have been about any set of characters without detriment to the story. I was disappointed that the visit by Ted Humphries - a piece of canon that belongs to this period - was not mentioned. (I've since learnt that the visit had been covered by the author in a short story so that might be the reason why).

Overall, I didn't like this as much as BATH, and I don't think that I'd bother to read another "pre-CS" book.


I agree.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front *INCLUDES SPOILERS
PostPosted: 08 Feb 2017, 20:58 
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I really enjoyed BTH, to the point where I felt it could almost, almost, sit with the Canon books. I think because of that I was bound to be disappointed with this book and unfortunately I was. It was perfectly pleasant but nothing 'zinged'.

To be fair it probably deserves a re-read, and perhaps when I read it a second time I will like it more.

I also didn't think Madge rang quite true in this book, though I can't give any specific examples. I'm glad Madge got her own book but I don't think this book quite did her justice.

I would have loved to have seen that first trip to Tirol as well, and that might have been a better way to see young Madge.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys on the Home Front *INCLUDES SPOILERS
PostPosted: 11 Feb 2017, 10:05 
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I really enjoyed this book, in fact it's one of my favourite fill-ins! I loved the home scenes andi really got the sense of how awkward it must have been for the Bettanys to be uprooted to the other side of the world. I enjoyed seeing more Dick and i think Helen got his character spot on. It was also interesting to see the brief glimpse of Grizel enjoying herself!

I was disappointed by Taverton High because it was so close in time frame to School At and just seemed like a build up to the main series but Home Front definitely answered a lot of my queires on what happened before that.

I agree that the first trip to Tirol needs to be covered, also perhaps something about Madge and Dick when they were in india


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