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 Post subject: Books: The Bettanys of Taverton High "INCLUDES SPOILERS"
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2017, 11:02 
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“Spoiler Alert”. Please do not read any further if you do not want to know anything about the book. These discussions are completely open for ddiscussion (hence the spoiler alert).

This is the second book written by Helen Barber and the second prequel (in chronological order) even though it was written prior to “Home Front”. This book covers the time period shortly before the Chalet School was started. In fact, the book ends shortly after Guardian dies and shortly before Madge announces she is starting the Chalet School.

The book starts with Madge and Joey setting their New Year’s resolutions; the two main ones being for Joey to be as well as possible and to appreciate all her blessings. We see the beginning of Joey’s tumultuous friendship with Grizel and Madge’s tender sympathy and understanding of Grizel’s home life and character and personality. Madge shows her understanding by finding a way for Grizel to get her punishment lesson done without her Step Mother finding out. Joey and her school friends (which includes Mary Burnett) decide to all enter in the poetry competition offered, with the hope even if they shouldn’t win it, they may get their poem into the school magazine. The friendliness between Mademoiselle and Madge grows and Madge starts a mini school on the spur of the moment when the High School is closed for a week. The girls return to school and Madge is asked to fill in as a teacher for two weeks as the English teacher needs to take a leave of absence. The winner of the poetry competition is decided and Joey and Grizel fall out over Grizel’s smugness about the winner. Joey and her friends decide to start a secret society in the attic, of which they are caught by none other than Joey’s sister Madge. The group are given a punishment to fit the crime. Joey and Grizel remain of the outs with each other until the pair patches things up when Grizel helps Joey with her Maths homework. Madge visits Guardian who advises he is unwell and is unlikely to live much longer. Dick comes home on furlough and whilst home, Guardian dies and Dick discovers the mess Guardian has left them in financially. There are hints as to what Madge plans but nothing is said.

So what did everyone think of the book? Did people like reading a book not set during the years of the Chalet School? Do people feel the relationship between Joey and Grizel was an accurate reflection of their future relationship during the series? Did anything jar with how you imagine the characters to be like before the series started? Please discuss anything you would like to in relation to the book.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys of Taverton High "INCLUDES SPOILERS"
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2017, 14:10 
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I've only read this once but I really enjoyed it. It answered questions such as Madge's teaching experience before she opens the Chalet School. I also liked the way the author managed to slip in several links to Heather Leaves School (one of my favourite non-Chalet books).

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys of Taverton High "INCLUDES SPOILERS"
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2017, 20:22 
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I like seeing Mary and Rosalie in this: I feel as if everyone forgets later on that Joey and Rosalie have known each other since well before CS times. It also explains a lot about Madge's interest in teaching, Grizel's affection for the Bettanys, and Madge's friendship with Mlle. Some of it - the sphinx bit! - did drag on a bit, but some of the CS plays do that too :lol:.

We're told very little about Madge and Joey's background in the canon books - we don't even get the names of "the aunts", and they vanish off the face of the earth very early on! - so I definitely think there was room for those gaps to be filled in. It's one person's interpretation of how things might have been, but I think it works very well. I don't think there's anything that really jars or feels as if it's something that doesn't fit.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys of Taverton High "INCLUDES SPOILERS"
PostPosted: 12 Feb 2017, 23:39 
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This one hit everything I wanted to see in a School at prequel (except maybe the original visit to Austria, though it does get a mention.) The characterizations fit my conceptions of the characters beautifully, while bringing to life the backstory of the future heads, Guardie, and Jo & Grizel's home & school lives.

Plus it has P. Cat. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Bettanys of Taverton High "INCLUDES SPOILERS"
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 19:12 
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This, along with 'Juliet', are my absolute favourite fillers! It is a real delight to be introduced to Madge and Joey's world in Taverton, and to see how Mademoiselle, Grizel, and Rosalie and Mary are carefully slotted in to the narrative.

Not necessarily relevant here, but I'm always curious about Miss Maynard, and whether she/her family had any prior connection with the Bettany family. In my imagination, Mrs Maynard is someone who could have been making the trip home to England when the young, orphaned Bettanys needed someone on board ship to chaperone them. This would have established a tenuous connection with the family and Madge, always presented as a keen letter writer, is just the kind of person who would have kept up the contact. What do others think?


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