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 Post subject: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 06 Mar 2017, 23:17 
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This week we head into Jo's final year at the CS with book number 9: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls, first published in 1933, and covering the winter term immediately after Camp. The school has seventeen new girls this term, including Alixe von Elsen and the Linders sisters, as well as Marie von Eschenau's cousin, Thekla von Stift, who later in the series gains notoriety as one of only two girls ever to be publicly expelled from the school. I also spotted a few more delightful EBDisms - when I've finished this mammoth task I might go back to the beginning and make a full list of them. :twisted: Notable events:

The term opens with the prefects discussing the new girls, and Jo and Frieda go down to meet them and hand them over to sheepdogs in their various forms. At first it is believed there are sixteen new girls, but Margia Stevens and Elsie Carr later burst into the prefects' room with the news that there is a seventeenth, who is the most appalling snob.
Simone receives a letter from Deira with the news that she has been to visit Bernhilda and Kurt in Lyons, and that they will soon be moving back to Innsbruck.
At assembly on the first evening, Mademoiselle Lepâttre announces that the Annexe is now open, with Juliet and Grizel at the helm. A new motor road has been built up to the Sonnalpe, and the girls are to go up to the Annexe in groups in the charabancs to see it.
Mademoiselle looks in on a prefects' meeting to tell the girls that as the school has grown so much (105 pupils this term), the Second form will be going over to Le Petit Chalet, the Fifth has been divided into two forms, and two new mistresses, Miss Norman and Miss Edwards, have been hired to take on the Juniors and Junior maths respectively. Matey's surname is given here as Gowland, while the new Matron at Le Petit Chalet is Matron Lloyd! :wink: Eva von Heiling also mysteriously joins the prefect ranks halfway through this meeting despite having not been mentioned at all until this point. :roll:
We learn from Jo that Rosalie Dene, another series stalwart, will be coming out to the Sonnalpe after Christmas to be assistant secretary at the San. Bianca di Ferrara also reveals that Bette Rincini will be married at Christmas, and that her own sister Luigia has just joined the Poor Clares as a novice.
Thekla makes an immediate bad start when she insults her classmates in Lower Fifth while on a walk. When they return, Jo spots Evadne and Maria looking livid, and on hearing why, sends for Thekla to the common room so that she can see for herself. Marie recognises Thekla as her cousin, and they have a heated debate about the class of girls at the school.
Thekla next runs across Miss Wilson when she refuses to sit in the seat allocated to her between Anne Seymour and Evadne, but Miss Wilson soon gives her short shrift. We learn that she was sent to school because her mother was beginning to find her too much to handle, and was also anxious that she not be infected with the spirit of Young Germany which her older brother has imbibed.
She next gets across Bianca di Ferrara when the latter refuses to give her an exercise book from Stationery without a note from a mistress. Thekla flies into a temper tantrum that brings various staff and prefects to the spot, and is whisked away by Matey to cool down. The staff decide to organise so many games and walks for the girls that they will be too exhausted to squabble with Thekla until she has had a chance to settle in, and an expedition up the Bärenbad Alpe to the village above the Dripping Rock visited back in Rivals is arranged for that weekend.
On the expedition, Marie, Frieda, Vanna and Sophie attempt to talk with Thekla, but she gravely insults Sophie and snubs the others. They are interrupted by Cornelia, who, with three others, had attempted to sneak off the path to gather blackberries and fallen down a hole. Frieda and Marie hurry ahead to fetch a mountaineer from the chalet they are making for, and he rescues Corney with the help of Miss Wilson and Miss Annersley. When they safely reach the chalet, Corney faints, and is sent back to the school with Frieda when she recovers.
When the girls reach a narrow part of the path, Thekla refuses to cross despite the coaxing of the others until Sophie, still fuming over the earlier insult, speaks to her so contemptuously that she is goaded into it. On the other side, they discover a dell full of flowers which everyone starts to gather. Thekla's refusal to join in finally causes Marie to lose her temper, and she shouts at her and shakes her.
The prefects hold a meeting to choose what they will be doing for Staff Evening, and Sophie proposes a Hallowe'en party, which the others agree to with gusto.
The school clock starts to lose time, and the Fifth forms, led by the Quintette, grow so fed up of the shortened Break times and elongated lesson times that they sneak it into their prep one evening, take it to pieces, boil, dust and polish the parts, then put it back together again. The result is that when it begins to strike the hour the next morning, it goes on to strike two hundred and seven times, startling all the girls and Mademoiselle into coming to look. Thekla in her surprise gives Margia away to the authorities, and the Fifths send her to Coventry, not realising that she had not told tales deliberately.
About half of the school goes up to the Sonnalpe for half-term to see the Annexe, and the long hot autumn is finally brought to an end by a massive thunderstorm, followed by snow which keeps them at Die Rosen for a day. They amuse themselves with hide and seek, playing with Jem's billiards. In the evening they stage some tableaux using everything they can pinch from around Die Rosen, from Madge's best curtains and bridge coat to Jem's fencing foil(!).
After a quiet Sunday snowed in, the girls and Staff have a snowball fight, then finish up half-term with a walk along the Sonnalpe.
After a grumpy day in which Evadne and Cornelia get into trouble for kicking each other under the table and the Fourth earn the wrath of Mlle de Lachenais during a French lesson, Evadne decides to liven up a science lesson by experimenting with some unknown chemicals, blowing up the chemistry lab and only escaping serious injury by a miracle.
The Sixths hold their Staff Evening, and the school enjoys the various Hallowe'en games set up, but the evening end abruptly when Thekla, who has disobeyed Matey and put on a long frilly petticoat, accidentally sets herself on fire while playing the jumping over the candle game. Miss Wilson and Miss Stewart beat the flames out, and Jo throws a tub of water over them all. Thekla is impressed enough with their quick action that she resolves to ask to join the Guides next term.
The term ends with a Christmas Pageant penned by Madge, and including the Annexe people who come down to spend the last fortnight of term at Briesau.

So, thoughts on this book? What do you think of Thekla and her behaviour? Did you like the half-term chapters? What about the Staff Evening? Discuss below!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 06 Mar 2017, 23:39 
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There's a lot in there to summarise, isn't there? It's always been one of my favourites, partly for the variety of events and the 'something's always happening' atmosphere, but also perhaps because its rather episodic nature reminds me of my school diaries. Surely the clock episode is another 'lift' from the Katy books and Dorry's attempt to mend Katy's clock, but the rest is so unlike any other previous girls' book I can think of.

PS A very minor point, but as has been commented in the 'Canaries' thread, Eva (whose parents recommended the CS to the von Stifts) has previously appeared in Head Girl, which was supposed to be her last term (!), And Jo, and In Camp - but then she isn't the most noticeable of characters...


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 06 Mar 2017, 23:46 
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Yes, I meant she hadn't been mentioned as a prefect in that particular book until then. EBD even makes a point in the first chapter of going through each of the eight prefects - Jo, Frieda, Marie, Simone, Carla, Sophie, Bianca and Vanna - and then lo and behold, right in the middle of doling out duties Eva suddenly appears as Pets prefect mid-meeting!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 06 Mar 2017, 23:57 
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Yes, sorry, see what you mean - you know, I do often wonder if EMBD sometimes wrote bits of the books out of order!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 00:04 
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I've always loved the irony of that bit in Jo Returns when she's writing Cecily and gets two characters mixed up, and realises she should have made a list of characters before writing anything! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 00:29 
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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: !


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 08:42 
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I think one of the most interesting things about this book is the attitude towards Prussians. From what I've read, it was a widely-held attitude in the inter-war years, with Prussian Juncker militarism being blamed for causing the Great War, and Prussians being unfavourably contrasted with jolly Oktoberfesting Bavarians etc. The name "Prussia" was wiped off the map after the Second World War, because it was felt to have such negative connotations that the Allies thought it shouldn't even be used for the names of German states any more. The fact that EBD, who's normally so critical of anyone who makes disparaging remarks about other nationalities, agreed with that view, just says how deeply it ran. Very early on in the series, Joey and Grizel have a run-in with Frau Berlin, and then Madge and Herr Marani, two of the last people you'd expect to be making generalisations, discuss how unpleasant and hostile and bitter both the British and Austrian characters find Prussians to be.

As with Eustacia, maybe someone like Mary-Lou would have tried a bit harder to help Thekla fit in. Maybe Marie, who was her distant cousin, should at least have tried?

On a lighter note, I think the Staff Evening's probably the best "evening" in the series - it's really good fun.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 13:17 
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Alison H wrote:
As with Eustacia, maybe someone like Mary-Lou would have tried a bit harder to help Thekla fit in. Maybe Marie, who was her distant cousin, should at least have tried?


To be fair, Marie does partner her on the walk with the intention of trying to talk to her and make her aware of her dodgy behaviour, and the other prefects back her up, but Thekla is so repeatedly rude to them - especially Sophie - that I quite frankly don't blame them for giving it up as a bad job after a bit. I do think they handle things better here than they do with Eustacia, even if it's technically just as unsuccessful.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 14:50 
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I'm re-reading Exploits right now and actually I think the prefects all try to help Thekla, but she is so insufferable that it makes no difference. Considering they are girls of around sixteen and seventeen they're amazingly patient with her when she is making it absolutely clear she despises them just because of their class. Even Mary-Lou wouldn't have got a look in I suspect, because Thekla would have scorned her just as much.

The thing that makes no sense to me is why Thekla's parents even send her to the school if they are as snobby as all that, and why they send her back once she goes home for the holidays and tells them about all the plebs she's being forced to associate with. But then I suppose there wouldn't be a story. Unless the von Stifts are hard up and can't afford to lose the money they'll have paid in fees?

Is anyone able to explain what 'Young Germany', as alluded to by EBD, would have meant? Is it democracy or Nazism?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 15:24 
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Loryat wrote:

Is anyone able to explain what 'Young Germany', as alluded to by EBD, would have meant? Is it democracy or Nazism?

I think this clip from Cabaret will give you as chilling and clear an answer as is possible without a lengthy dissertation......

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 15:29 
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Thekla's mum had heard that Elisaveta had been at the Chalet School. Presumably it was mentioned in the inter-war German equivalent of something like Hello! magazine :lol:. So she thought that the school was full of royals and aristocrats.

I don't know where EBD got the expression "Young Germany" from. A lot of Junkers opposed Nazism, so maybe something more along the lines of the "conservative revolutionaries" who were right-wing Prussian nationalists.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 16:15 
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Alison H wrote:

I don't know where EBD got the expression "Young Germany" from. A lot of Junkers opposed Nazism, so maybe something more along the lines of the "conservative revolutionaries" who were right-wing Prussian nationalists.

The phrase "Junges Deutschland" was bandied about in various contexts. It was the name of a liberal movement amongst young writers in the mid-1800s but the meaning then appeared to shift somewhat.

If you google Junges Deutschland 1930s you get Pathe News clips of Germany post WW1 and during the Depression, which also include the rise of Nazism. I suspect it was a phrase current in the media of the time....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 16:21 
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cestina wrote:
Loryat wrote:

Is anyone able to explain what 'Young Germany', as alluded to by EBD, would have meant? Is it democracy or Nazism?

I think this clip from Cabaret will give you as chilling and clear an answer as is possible without a lengthy dissertation......


I agree, with your view, Cestina - that song gives me the shivers even now!!! I also wonder (without having checked any sources) whether the Junges Deutschland movement of the 1930s eventually morphed into the Hitler Youth as Nazidom took hold, despite its earlier, more liberal beliefs.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 18:06 
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I always assumed she meant Hitler Youth, though not wanting to name names.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 21:38 
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There was a lot of WWI propaganda aimed at German troops which portrayed the Bavarians as generally peaceable people who were being pushed into war by the Prussians. Such propaganda was prevalent on the Home Front as well and that's where I feel Brent-Dyer got it.

(It is somewhat ironic, given the comments about Bavarians being nice people much like Austrians, that Hitler was an Austrian who identified as Bavarian.)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 22:10 
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It's quite a turnaround from the Ruritanian princess storyline a few years earlier. The basic plot of the new girl who doesn't fit in is fairly standard school story stuff, but we're also getting the effects of the Great War, hints that politics in Germany are beginning to take a very unpleasant turn, a reference (I think by Vanna?) to the Russian Revolution, and a lot of talk about class divisions and social change.

On a different note, isn't this the book in which Rix says something rude, Madge and Jo are both horrified, and Rix says that he heard Dr Jack saying it? I love that scene: it's so true-to-life! A lot of CS scenes with young kids are quite annoying, but the Die Rosen nursery scenes in this and Exile are lovely.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 07 Mar 2017, 23:23 
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cestina wrote:
Loryat wrote:

Is anyone able to explain what 'Young Germany', as alluded to by EBD, would have meant? Is it democracy or Nazism?

I think this clip from Cabaret will give you as chilling and clear an answer as is possible without a lengthy dissertation......


Apologies to everyone else.
Cestina, the GEMA won't let me watch this on You Tube. Can you PM me with the details and I'll try to access an alternative. I did manage to Pathe News link.

Vielen Dank.

PS I loved the frilly petitcoat catching fire but even as a child I found the idea of Thekla's wearing one very difficult to believe. To me it doesn't match her character.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 08 Mar 2017, 03:54 
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Alison H wrote:
On a different note, isn't this the book in which Rix says something rude, Madge and Jo are both horrified, and Rix says that he heard Dr Jack saying it? I love that scene: it's so true-to-life!


Rix calls Evadne the "cat's mother" which I never understood why that is an insult. What does it actually mean?

And why would Jack call her that anyway?

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Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 08 Mar 2017, 07:52 
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Joyce wrote:
Rix calls Evadne the "cat's mother" which I never understood why that is an insult. What does it actually mean?

And why would Jack call her that anyway?


There is a lovely blog about the etymology of that phrase here.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Exploits of the Chalet Girls
PostPosted: 08 Mar 2017, 09:57 
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KB wrote:
There is a lovely blog about the etymology of that phrase here.


Thanks! Very interesting.

But I wonder what the context was that Jack called Evadne that? :lol:

Cheers,
Joyce

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