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 Post subject: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 10:20 
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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 discussion (hence the spoiler alert).

This is the first and only fill-in book by Jane Berry. This book comes in chronological order after Jo of the Chalet School and before another fill-in Juliet of the Chalet School. There are a lot of new ventures in this book. Joey and Robin stay with the Maynards and we meet Jack for the first time in the series. We also get to meet Rolf and Lydia and see in action some of the back story given to them. And where Joey gets her idea for the snails stunt in Princess. The San is started and Jem is building the new San and has taken on some new patients during this time. We see the early hints that the San will impact on girls being enrolled at the school due to family members being patients at the San, with the first of these being Stephanie Pagnol. Guiding takes over the school as everyone, led by Grizel becomes obsessed with becoming a guide and gaining badges. We see the three oldest girls take a back seat in leadership whilst others are given a chance to flex their leadership skills. Grizel is one of the patrol leaders and shows what a good influence guides has on her character as she takes Stephanie under her wing and tries to support her, whilst her mother is one of the earliest San patients. Grizel hasn’t completely reformed as the girls in her Patrol say although she is keen and does support them, they would prefer one of the other leaders as her manner can be abrupt at times. The mistresses attempt to bring balance with everyone’s obsession and Madge refuses to allow anyone to do more than their second class badge (except for Mary who already has hers). The school term ends with a folk concert and much to the sadness of all Gisela, Bernhilda and Wanda leave.

So what did everyone think of the book? Jane focuses for the most part of the established characters, Joey, Simone, Grizel, Margia, Evadne etc. Did people feel Jane stayed true to how EBD portrayed these characters or were they in line with how you personally imagined them to be like? Stephanie Pagnol and her cousin Aurelie are mentioned briefly throughout the early part of the series. Did people like the introduction and development of essentially two new characters or two characters EBD doesn’t focus on at all? What did people think of the portrayal of the Maynard family and their home life? Or the relationship between Simone and Joey? In the book, Joey seems to antagonise Simone, often reducing her to tears and then doesn’t own up to be the one to do that and the others girls are left uncomfortable as they feel they can’t sneak on Joey? Was Joey to kind hearted to say I don’t want to be close friends or would it have been far kinder to say I don’t want to be best friends?

Given the lack of comments with the last two books, I am trying to open up the discussion by focusing on some of the relationships between characters which are also prevalent throughout the series so those who haven’t necessarily read this fill-in or haven’t read it for awhile, can comment on some of the questions raised above as they fit in with fill ins in general. I think it would be also interesting to discuss how a writers view or the way they develop a character, which may match or not match the way you see a character and the impact that has on how you like the book.

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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 11:52 
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Sorry to focus on such a small point, but I don't recall anything about Stephanie and Aurelie Pagnol at all - and it isn't a question of cuts to paperbacks, as I was lucky enough to have hardbacks of the Tyrol books from fairly early on - which books do they appear in?


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 17:11 
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Joey seems to antagonise Simone, often reducing her to tears and then doesn’t own up to be the one to do that and the others girls are left uncomfortable as they feel they can’t sneak on Joey? Was Joey to kind hearted to say I don’t want to be close friends or would it have been far kinder to say I don’t want to be best friends?

I haven't read the book, but I have to say this doesn't sound very like Joey. She can be tactless and thoughtless, but never deliberately unkind. In School At she was quite remorseful and conscience stricken when she realised Simone was upset because of her, even though she hadn't really done anything wrong. I also can't believe Madge wouldn't have made enquiries into what was going on. She was well aware of Simone's tendency to be clingy and possessive, and at the beginning of Jo Of, she sent her to Le Petit Chalet partly to give Jo a break.

I do think it's unfair that, not just in this book, but in school stories generally, quite young girls - they're only thirteen here - are expected to negotiate quite difficult friendship issues, and issues around honour and 'sneaking', and to get it right every time. Jo's not unreasonable for getting fed up with Simone's clinginess, and it wouldn't have been inappropriate for her to ask Madge for help in dealing with it.

But I suppose large chunks of story would disappear if they just went to a parent or teacher every time something happened that they couldn't deal with!


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 17:58 
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I haven't read this either, but might try it now - I've always wished someone'd write about Rolf Maynard.

There's a day girl called Stephanie in the early books. Is she the one? I don't remember an Aurelie, and the Encyclopaedia hasn't got anyone listed under the name Pagnol.

I agree with Jay: Simone's possessiveness must have been very hard to deal with, but I don't think Joey would have been deliberately unkind to her.

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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 19 Feb 2017, 19:00 
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I enjoyed this fill-in, particularly as it provided another term of Madge's Headship - and Jem was mostly occupied in overseeing the construction of the San rather than turning up every five minutes to dose someone. It was nice to see the family time at the Maynards to begin with, and, although Guiding obviously dominates the new term, I felt the death of Madame Pagnol - and how the school, and especially Madge - dealt with such a sensitive issue were very well done. Grizel is also given a key role in helping Stephanie, and it is good to see her thinking about her own experiences, and learning things about herself in the process. Madge, too, reflects on her own loss, as she was a similar age to Stephanie when her parents died. These are not issues that EBD, writing for her younger audience, would ever have dealt with in such detail but I think, reading this book as an adult, I really appreciated the insights.


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2017, 08:22 
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Having not been a Guìde (or Brownie or Ŕainbow) i found the Guide focussed parts of this book a little confusing with all the terminology. However, i did enjoy the rest of the book, especially meeting Rolf and Lydia Maynard


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2017, 12:52 
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Noreen wrote:
Sorry to focus on such a small point, but I don't recall anything about Stephanie and Aurelie Pagnol at all - and it isn't a question of cuts to paperbacks, as I was lucky enough to have hardbacks of the Tyrol books from fairly early on - which books do they appear in?


Stephanie appears in Jo, Head Girl and Exile. She is really only mentioned in passing and does not have a surname. We know very little about her, she's a Senior, her mother is ill and later she lives at Lauterbach. (If you have only read the Armadas, I think the first mention is when she walks from Lauterbach to join in something - like the Stuffer and Maria, a completely mysterious reference!)

Aurelie is a new character. When Stephanie joins the CS there's another unnamed new girl who joins at the same time.

Berry's thinking on this matter is contained in the afterword to "Guides"


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2017, 17:58 
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OK, author's licence - fair enough, and thanks for confirming my thoughts, Victoria.


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2017, 07:27 
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JayB wrote:
Quote:
Joey seems to antagonise Simone, often reducing her to tears and then doesn’t own up to be the one to do that and the others girls are left uncomfortable as they feel they can’t sneak on Joey? Was Joey to kind hearted to say I don’t want to be close friends or would it have been far kinder to say I don’t want to be best friends?

I haven't read the book, but I have to say this doesn't sound very like Joey. She can be tactless and thoughtless, but never deliberately unkind. In School At she was quite remorseful and conscience stricken when she realised Simone was upset because of her, even though she hadn't really done anything wrong. I also can't believe Madge wouldn't have made enquiries into what was going on. She was well aware of Simone's tendency to be clingy and possessive, and at the beginning of Jo Of, she sent her to Le Petit Chalet partly to give Jo a break.

I do think it's unfair that, not just in this book, but in school stories generally, quite young girls - they're only thirteen here - are expected to negotiate quite difficult friendship issues, and issues around honour and 'sneaking', and to get it right every time. Jo's not unreasonable for getting fed up with Simone's clinginess, and it wouldn't have been inappropriate for her to ask Madge for help in dealing with it.

But I suppose large chunks of story would disappear if they just went to a parent or teacher every time something happened that they couldn't deal with!


I don't know if it was just Joey or the way the authors are writing the books. EBD started it and Jane Berry continued whereby the friendship between Simone and Joey always seems to be described in negative ways and compared unfavourably with Joey's friendship with Marie or Frieda. It's always described as Simone wanting to be friends with Joey and not the other way round; which may be how it started but surely at some point couldn't that explanation be dropped and they're allowed to be friends without Simone continually being described as clingy and emotional etc. I must admit I am enjoying Caroline German's fill ins as she doesn't describe the relationship as being like that at all and it's nice that the friendship seems more normal.
I think what really emphasised this was the scene in the classroom where Joey
Quote:
had snapped violently at Simone as the latter tried to help her with her books causing the French child's bottom lip to wobble dangerously while her eyes began to brim over with tears, thus provoking the usual exasperation in Joey.


Miss Cathew comes along as asks why she's crying and Joey doesn't confess to being the cause of Simone's upset and the girls don't as they feel it would be sneaking on Joey.

There's another scene in Jo of where Simone gets upsets when Joey and Margia don't help tidy up as they should and Joey snaps at her again, causing her to cry. I get that Joey does care about Simone, but having recently read the early books to write about the fill ins, I am struck by the number of times Joey seems to be the cause of Simone's tears because she seems to snap at her more often than anyone else and without cause. In the instance above, Simone was only trying to help her. I don't remember a scene where Joey snaps at Frieda or Marie to the extent she does Simone. I wondered was the friendship kind to or good for Simone, as it seems Joey is only friends because Simone was so homesick. It reminded me of Mary Lou's friendship with Joan, whereby the reason for friendship wasn't out of friendship but for another reason and it didn't work. But then Simone did want to be friends desperately whereas I don't think Joan did despite being flattered by the attention Mary Lou showed. I was curious what others thought of it

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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2017, 09:09 
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I can understand Joey feeling awkward and uncomfortable with how clingy and emotional Simone was in the early books - and how jealous Simone was, given that Jo was friends with everyone, more or less, from the smallest Junior to the prefects. And she's quite an antisoppist, too.

And I can imagine that very occasionally this awkwardness might have resulted in a tart comment. But Jo is inherently soft hearted, I think, and I would expect her to be mortified afterwards. And certainly not lie about it.

I also don't remember Simone being such a watering pot after the first couple of books, although EBD certainly tells us she still has bouts of private jealousy and wondering if Jo cares as much for her as she does for Jo.


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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2017, 09:15 
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I don't remember Simone being so soppy after the early days, either. When Joey finds her in tears very early on, EBD explains that Simone has never been away from home before and is, understandably, missing her family. Simone then adds that there are only three boarders at that point and the other two, Joey and Grizel, come from the same town and have known each other for years, so she's the odd one out. So it's not just her personality that's making her emotional: it's other factors, which I think would affect anyone in that position. Once she's got used to being there, and things have settled down, she feels better.

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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2017, 11:06 
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I think because I am reading the books in order and am so far up to Visitors, that i am noticing it more than I ever have. I have never done a read of the series from start to finish as I said I didn't notice it so much in Caroline's two books, in fact it did seem to balance out a lot more, but not in an unrealistic way. Must admit i did enjoy Juliet so much more reading it after Guides, not sure why, but Grizel made much more sense with her development of her character than reading the books the other way round which I had previously.

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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 26 Feb 2017, 15:56 
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What I like most about this book are the fill-in about Rolf and the snails, and the Stephanie story line, both for itself and for the way it lets us see a softer side to Grizel, as her patrol leader duties inspire her to start thinking about someone besides herself. That's particularly critical in this book, as otherwise we'd be left only with the obsessive pushiness that comes from Grizel's well-portrayed need to excel at Guiding and athletics.

I do find the all-consuming zeal for ranks and badges and tests somewhat grating, as it makes Guiding seem so much like still another chore that I wonder at the girls' enthusiasm -- though to be fair, I thought that knots and Morse were great fun, and probably resent them being turned into objects of frustration.

I agree that some of the Joey-Simone scenes went over the top, even though the worst one was the day it was clear that everyone, and especially Miss Carthew, were in particularly bad shape.

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 Post subject: Re: The Guides of the Chalet School - SPOILER ALERT
PostPosted: 10 Mar 2017, 19:28 
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Kathy_S wrote:
I do find the all-consuming zeal for ranks and badges and tests somewhat grating, as it makes Guiding seem so much like still another chore that I wonder at the girls' enthusiasm -- though to be fair, I thought that knots and Morse were great fun, and probably resent them being turned into objects of frustration.


Oh, I don't know - my grandson and his cohorts started Beavers last September, and he was very proudly telling me that he already had two badges.... I think working for badges is part of the fun, although I was never a Scout or a Guide so wouldn't know from first-hand experience. Plus people of Joey's age in "Guides" are fearful pot-hunters, really....


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