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 Post subject: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2017, 23:51 
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This week's book discussion is The Chalet School and the Lintons, first published in 1934. When published in paperback this title was split into two books: The Chalet School and the Lintons and A Rebel in the Chalet School. The book opens just before the Christmas of Exploits, and covers the term which follows. Mrs Linton, mother to fifteen year old Gillian and fourteen year old Joyce, is diagnosed with TB and goes out to the Sonnalpe for treatment, and Gillian and Joyce are entered at the CS for the coming term. While Gillian settles in without problems, Joyce quickly begins to cause trouble, with near-disastrous consequences. Notable events:

Sir James Talbot, a doctor acquaintance of Jem's, diagnoses Mrs Linton with TB and advises her to go to the Sonnalpe at once for treatment, and to enter her two daughters as boarders at the Chalet School while she is there.
When Mrs Linton tells the girls they are going to school abroad, Joyce is ecstatic at the idea, but Gillian is astute enough to realise there is an underlying reason for the sudden removal. It is only when they reach Paris that the nurse in charge of the journey, fed up with Joyce's exuberance and petulance, informs her just how ill her mother is, much to Joyce's horror.
When the party finally reach Wiesing, Mrs Linton is whisked off to the San, and Gillian and Joyce are met by Jo and Jack Maynard, who take them up to Die Rosen. When they get there, Joyce makes a bad first impression with her slangy vocabulary, tactlessness towards Stacie and lack of enthusiasm for kissing the Robin goodnight.
The new term begins, and Joyce soon learns, to her great dismay, about the slang rules.
While helping Simone, Frieda and Marie to set up chairs for assembly, Joyce picks up on Marie's lack of enthusiasm for her cousin Thekla, and on studying the latter more closely, is rather struck by her air of superiority.
As the Lintons settle in, Joyce begins to gather a following among her peers thanks to her beauty, although she is disgruntled that they do not include form leaders such as Evvy and Corney.
After taking an eventful prep with the Middles one evening, Jo informs the other prefects that she believes some note-passing has been going, although she was unable to prove it.
Ten days later, Simone catches Joyce, Thekla and Kitty Burnett passing notes and reports it to the other prefects, who haul them in for inquisition. After informing them of how unfavourably the school looks on note-passing, Thekla and Joyce are told to go to Matron for the next two Saturday evenings, and Kitty is sent off in disgrace.
Joyce next decides to hold a midnight feast, and picks out several girls to invite, including Thekla. They buy the goods during a trip to Spärtz and hide them in the cupboard of the sewing room where they plan to have the feast.
The feast is duly held, and Thekla creates a sensation when she produces raw smoked bacon as her contribution. Later that night, Joyce has a violent bilious attack from all the food she has eaten, Mary Shaw is also sick, and Thekla rouses her whole dormitory with a wild nightmare brought on from eating the raw bacon. Matey, guessing that they have been eating things outside of the usual school food, doses the three of them with castor oil.
Luise Rotheim confesses to Miss Annersley about the feast, and after telling the feasters off, she docks them of cakes, jam, sweets and fancy-bread for a week, and decrees their pocket money will be held until half-term and only doled out for necessary expenses.
The staff entertain the girls for an evening with a performance of Mrs Jarley.
During a Domestic Science lesson (newly begun that term), Lower Fifth make réchauffé and apple pies for the rest of the school for Mittagessen, but Cornelia mistakenly takes a tin of garlic cloves from the cupboard, which end up in half of the pies baked, much to the disgust of everyone unfortunate enough to taste them.
Half-term arrives, and Jo, the Lintons and several other girls go up to the Sonnalpe to stay. Jem comes to meet them, and Jo notes that he is clearly over the moon about something. On getting him alone for a minute, he informs her that she has a new niece, born the night before, and who has arrived earlier than expected. Jo, having had no idea that Madge was expecting, is gobsmacked.
When they arrive at the Sonnalpe, Jo is delighted to learn that Stacie is now able to walk a few steps, and Jem says that if she continues to progress as she has done, she can rejoin the CS for the summer term. She then goes in to see Madge and the new baby, and is outraged to discover the baby has red hair.
The girls staying at the Sonnalpe hold a name-party for the baby, and come up with some startling ideas. Cornelia also startles the others by revealing that her own full name is Cornelia Naida Anastasia Flower.
After laughing herself to tears over the list, Madge discards it entirely and names the baby Sybil, her own favourite name.
Back at school, Jo relates to Anne Seymour that she accidentally walked in on an extra coaching session Miss Norman was giving to Joyce, Thekla and several others. They had been making so much noise that Jo was sure there was nobody with them, and she was horrified to realise that Miss Norman was present and clearly unable to keep order.
The climax comes when Joyce and Co. decide to act like savages during one coaching session, and Miss Norman reaches boiling point. She locks them in the classroom and fetches Mademoiselle, who is so furious that she reduces them all to tears, demotes every girl by one form for the rest of the term, consigns them to meals at the punishment table and Junior bedtime, puts them in silence for the rest of the week, and gives them all a bad-conduct report. Thekla, who had refused to take part, is rebuked for her own past rudeness to Miss Norman, as well as for skiving the lesson and going to the Third form room to read a forbidden book where she had been caught by Frieda.
Gillian takes Jo aside during a walk and reveals that, following the ragging of Miss Norman, Joyce has been warned by Mademoiselle that she will be expelled if she gets into any more trouble, and she is worried that such a shock would be very bad for their mother's progress. Jo, after telling Gillian she shouldn't run about after Joyce so much, agrees to have a chat with her.
Mrs Linton suffers a setback which holds Jo up a little from keeping her promise, but when better news comes she takes Joyce out for a walk to the Dripping Rock, where she counsels her on her poor behaviour that term. Joyce agrees to try and pull up in both her behaviour and her work in the hope that it will help her mother's recovery.
Joyce duly begins to apply herself to her work, and ignores Thekla, who tries to whisper to her during prep.
That night, Thekla gets Joyce out of bed and into the corridor, where she orders her not to be friends with Jo. Joyce furiously refuses, and Cornelia hears them and comes to investigate. Her own exclamations in turn rouse Miss Wilson, who carts them all off to her room and demands an explanation.
Thekla lies about getting Joyce out of bed, instead saying she heard a noise and met Joyce in the corridor. Joyce, though furiously indignant, refuses to give her away. The next day, Miss Wilson eventually gets to the bottom of the matter when Corney tells her what she believes happened. Mademoiselle walks in on the scene and is told what has happened.
After discussing things with some of the mistresses, and realising that Thekla meant to get Joyce expelled in order to hurt Jo and is utterly unrepentant about it, Mademoiselle is forced to expel her, impressing upon her that if Joyce had been expelled instead, Mrs Linton would in all probability have died from the shock.
The school holds a fairy tale themed Sale opened by Frieda's bishop uncle, and Jo, fitting the chimney on the roof of the Seven Dwarves' cottage, falls on top of Miss Wilson, knocking the wind out of her.
As the Sale ends, Jem arrive in haste to take Gillian and Joyce up to the Sonnalpe, and the girls learn that Mrs Linton is dying, and the girls have been taken up to say goodbye to her.
Three days later, Mrs Linton is still clinging onto life, and Jem tells the girls that it was sudden heart trouble brought on by a shock. She suddenly rouses enough for them to realise that she had overheard gossip about Joyce being supposedly expelled, bringing on her collapse. After some attempts, Jo gets through to her enough to let her know Joyce is still at the school, and the danger gradually passes.

Minor note: Jo specifically mentions in this book during the half-term stay at the Sonnalpe that Madge was indeed 'pretty ill' after having David. I know there's been a bit of speculation about that in one or two threads as it was quite ambiguous in Head Girl, but it's confirmed here.

So, thoughts on this book? What do you think of Gillian and Joyce? What about the various escapades Joyce is involved in? What do you think of Thekla's behaviour and expulsion? Post your thoughts below!

Personally I think Thekla was a bit over the top towards the end - and where did the deep burning hatred of Jo suddenly spring from? That seemed to come a bit out of the blue to me.

I'm of the opinion that Joyce is a spoilt brat who especially deserved everything she got from that swingeing punishment after the savages episode, but at least she does pull up after that. And I have to admit I'd probably have had a similar reaction to hers if the eleven year old Robin had come up to me expecting a goodnight kiss! :roll:

Incidentally, I love the bit when Miss Wilson catches Thekla, Joyce and Corney out of bed, and even while she's telling them off Corney's noticing what naturally curly hair and a whacking plait she has, and how young she looks. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 08:02 
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Amazing synopsis - I've only ever read it as two stories so you've basically summarised two books in one go to me. :D

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demotes every girl by one form for the rest of the term, consigns them to meals at the punishment table and Junior bedtime, puts them in silence for the rest of the week, and gives them all a bad-conduct report.


How would this have worked? Wouldn't the lower form be doing completely different work? Doesn't that mean their marks for the term would be wiped out and they have to start again?

And doesn't that mean their original form would be very small for the rest of the term while the lower form would suddenly have a stack of new members?

And yes, if an 11 year old I just met came over for a kiss goodnight I would be somewhat taken aback. And Joey's reaction is is way OTT.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 08:10 
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Have to sayy that this is o e of my favourites of the series! Yes, Joyce is a spoilt brat, but the way her character is portryed by EBD is reminscent of many students I have taught. Couple that with an older sister with the world on her shoulders and I think you have 2 of EBD's best creations. Although I sometimes find Thekla OTT, i think it's completely plausibke that someone like Jooyce would end up *hanging around * with her.

I think the one part of the book i don't enjoy is the sale and how it keeps being referred to jthroughoutthe series - there were better sales IMO!

I didn't read this book until I was an adult and my first copy was the awful early 1980s version with the cover supposedly illustrating Miss wilson as Mrs Jarley. I wanted to finish the book as quickly as possible so i didn't have to have that image on my bedside table! It wasn't until i got a hardback that I could fully enjoy the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 08:44 
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Unless I've forgotten someone, this is the only book in the series in which the eponymous new girl (girls in this case) are joining the school because a relative is being treated at the San. Given how many of the pupils in the Tyrol years are there because of San links, that's quite surprising, and it's good to see that link in this book. And it's also the only book in which two main new girls are sisters. I know Anne Lambert arrives at the same time as Jack, but she doesn't really feature in the story.

I love the naming party, but am always surprised that Jo, at 17 (I think?) didn't realise that Madge was expecting. Only a few months later, Mollie tells Jo straight out that she's expecting again, and, shortly after Mollie's announcement, Frieda is aware that Bernhilda is expecting again, and Jo is told as well. I don't know Madge was a bit more prim and the others a bit more open or if Jo and Frieda, having left school in the meantime, were considered to have crossed some sort of threshold into adulthood.

I think this is generally a very nice school story, with the nasty girl gaining influence over the girl who's easily led, and the first midnight feast :lol:. The cookery lessons are good fun. The storyline with Miss Norman's interesting - it's not often shown in school stories (although there's a major plotline about it in South Riding), but teachers being bullied by pupils can be an issue, and must have been even more so at a time when many women who weren't really suited to teaching entered the profession because there weren't many other options. IIRC, we're also told that Miss Norman has volunteered to take extra classes because she needs the money - a reminder that a lot of the staff were expected to tip up money to their families.

I think Mlle mishandles the Thekla situation, though. Using the word "murderess" is quite shocking. Thekla's behaviour was appalling, but it wasn't her fault that Mrs Linton had advanced TB, and I don't think it was appropriate for Mlle to speak to her like that.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 11:06 
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I liked this book a lot. I think Joyce and Gillian are realistic characters although why was Joyce babied so much when Gillian only a year older? Possibly due to their natures.

Quite a few homely scenes here which I enjoyed. It is in this book for the first time that we also see Jo on equal terms with Jack when they go to collect the Linton girls. EBD led into this romance so gently...

Regarding Madge's pregnancy, a bit strange Jo not being told but could it have been due to fact they did not want to worry Jo after Madge being ill with David? Madge and Jem also did not tell her when Kevin and Kester on way to prevent Jo from worrying. That was a bit different though as Jo and Madge in different countries.

Loved the name party and Jem winding them all up.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 13:10 
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Bernhilda is heavily pregnant in this book as well, and Frieda and Jo certainly know about it, as they - euphemistically - discuss it as they're parting for half term (I'm at work right now so can't do the actual quotes), so I think the not telling Jo about Madge's pregnancy is just her being over-protective.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 13:12 
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Alison H wrote:
Unless I've forgotten someone, this is the only book in the series in which the eponymous new girl (girls in this case) are joining the school because a relative is being treated at the San. .


Although they are not named in the title of the book, so perhaps don't qualify for your definition, the Everetts go to the School because their father is in the San - and they have more or less had a book to themselves previously.

edited to substitute 'father' for 'brother'!


Last edited by Mabel on 14 Mar 2017, 15:21, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 14:15 
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This is my least favourite book of the early years and so I very rarely reread it. There are bits I enjoy, like the naming party, Mrs Jarley, and the Fairy Tale Sale, but the overall flavour I find deeply unpleasant. There is something about Joyce, and her bullying of Miss Norman that really gets to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 14:42 
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The second Chalet book I read/owned, in hardback (woohoo!) from a church jumble sale back in the late 1970s.
Sitll enjoy reading it - I like the insight into the Linton's world before they left England, and I've always been a fan of Gillian, maybe because I couldn't understand how she had so much patience with Joyce. I used to wish I could be more like her, as I was near enough Gillian's age when I first read the book. At the time we had a lot of family stuff going on too and I used to try and protect my younger sister from reality the way that Gillian did.

The bullying of Miss Norman, and then the scenes where Thekla bullies Joyce are nasty, as someone else said but they are also very well written. They show just how evil some schoolgirls can be, and are very believable, I think.

Don't like the Sale scene, but then I often skip the Sales, they re very 'samey' like the Pantomimes. I also can't really see why Joey and Miss Wilson's accident gets trotted out somany times over later years! It wasn't THAT funny!

Love the name party, but then I was always fascinated with girl's names.

Some scenes really stick in my mind - one being Gillian being embarrassed at Joyce's tiredness on arrival at Die Rosen - she'd clearly been taught such good manners that she couldn't let the drop for a moment. In the same vein she didn't like to be rude and ask about her mother's condition on arrival at the San. So polite, making some of Joyce's slips seem worse than they really were. The moment when Joyce shuns the Robin's request for a kiss and Joey takes an instant dislike on that basis - I think Madge sums that up perfectly, and its a good assessmentof part of Jo's character - she really shouldn't take an instant dislike to people just cos they don't fawn over the Robin - who after all is now 11 and not a babe!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 14:57 
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I think people are a bit unfair to Joey on that score. Yes, it's ridiculous for her to get annoyed with Joyce because she doesn't treat the Robin with the affection that she's used to, but Madge calls her on that, and it's not only for that reason that Joey dislikes her - there's also the horrible way she talks to Stacie and (I think) her whole manner.

Joyce is a real horror and I think she must have been based on someone EBD had met in real life. However, I'm surprised Mademoiselle threatened to expel her - does this happen to any other girl (who isn't expelled)? Although Joyce is awful, I would have thought she would be treated more leniently considering why she is at the CS in the first place.

This book has some of my favourite scenes - the Lintons examining the prospectus is particularly cosy.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 21:52 
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Loryat wrote:
I think people are a bit unfair to Joey on that score. Yes, it's ridiculous for her to get annoyed with Joyce because she doesn't treat the Robin with the affection that she's used to, but Madge calls her on that, and it's not only for that reason that Joey dislikes her - there's also the horrible way she talks to Stacie and (I think) her whole manner.

Joyce is a real horror and I think she must have been based on someone EBD had met in real life. However, I'm surprised Mademoiselle threatened to expel her - does this happen to any other girl (who isn't expelled)? Although Joyce is awful, I would have thought she would be treated more leniently considering why she is at the CS in the first place.

This book has some of my favourite scenes - the Lintons examining the prospectus is particularly cosy.


Diana Skelton is threatened with expulsion from what I remember.

This is also one of my favourite books - I still have it as two separates and I like the difference of Joyce and Gillian as well as the Joyce storyline and true to form, Joyce does come good in the end.

Re: Joyce's behaviour, if it had carried on the way it was it would've been even more difficult to correct her laziness and spoilt ways.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 23:55 
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Aquabird wrote:
Bernhilda is heavily pregnant in this book as well, and Frieda and Jo certainly know about it, as they - euphemistically - discuss it as they're parting for half term (I'm at work right now so can't do the actual quotes), so I think the not telling Jo about Madge's pregnancy is just her being over-protective.


Madge does say to Jo that she'd dropped hints that Jo hadn't picked up on, does seem a bit odd she just didn't come out with it and say she was pregnant. Sybil was premature, perhaps a month or so, and Jo hadn't seen Madge since Christmas, but even so at about 6 months it must have been rather obvious.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2017, 01:28 
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ivohenry wrote:
Madge does say to Jo that she'd dropped hints that Jo hadn't picked up on, does seem a bit odd she just didn't come out with it and say she was pregnant. Sybil was premature, perhaps a month or so, and Jo hadn't seen Madge since Christmas, but even so at about 6 months it must have been rather obvious.
I think it's very difficult for us now to realise just how ignorant of everything like this unmarried middle and upper class girls often were at this date. And perhaps Madge was someone who simply didn't look very pregnant, as sometimes happens - I remember my own mother telling me that nobody believed that she was pregnant until the last two months, for example (it's probably caused by having a uterus that tilts backwards rather than forwards - I have that too, but have never put it to the test!).


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 16 Mar 2017, 09:59 
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Pollyana wrote:
Don't like the Sale scene, but then I often skip the Sales, they re very 'samey' like the Pantomimes. I also can't really see why Joey and Miss Wilson's accident gets trotted out somany times over later years! It wasn't THAT funny!


The sale accident is just downright silly. And it does get mentioned way too many times and must have bored people to death who had no idea what it was about.

That said, I really like the sales. Maybe because my school fetes were boring as heck, having a theme sale with costumes always appealed to me.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 17 Mar 2017, 14:33 
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I am not observant or very clued up so when I started work when I was nearer 18 than 17, I was not aware that one woman was 6 months pregnant.

All the staff were complimenting her on her flowery dress which I did not particularly like. After about 3 days the penny dropped it was a maternity dress! She had no big bump on display.

If Madge was wearing loose clothes and was "neat" there would be no evidence to show she was pregnant and Jo at that time I don't think was observant.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 17 Mar 2017, 14:53 
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Jo says something about the domestic staff at Die Rosen - I forget what - and Madge says that Marie's going to be "very busy". Jo doesn't get it, and Madge says that she's not saying any more because it's Marie's business. Gretchen is two months older than Sybil, and there's no mention of her being premature, so Marie must have been a good three months further along than Madge ... and Jo still hadn't noticed!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 19 Mar 2017, 02:35 
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Alison H wrote:
Jo says something about the domestic staff at Die Rosen - I forget what - and Madge says that Marie's going to be "very busy". Jo doesn't get it, and Madge says that she's not saying any more because it's Marie's business. Gretchen is two months older than Sybil, and there's no mention of her being premature, so Marie must have been a good three months further along than Madge ... and Jo still hadn't noticed!


I have a friend who barely showed till her 8th month so it's possible Madge was like that as well, cos Joey did not notice when she was pregnant with David either.

But for Joey not to realise TWO heavily pregnant women around her is getting a tad silly.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 19 Mar 2017, 03:39 
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There is the lovely description by Maria von Trapp who puts on progressively larger outfits during her pregnancy so that she can continue singing with the family, and who is described as 'matronly' by reviewers. The manager has no idea she is pregnant, and promptly cancels the rest of the tour when she accidentally tells him. She was quite far along at this point, so presumably a clever seamstress can help to hide almost anything!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 19 Mar 2017, 04:54 
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My sister never looked pregnant until she was close to delivering. But she did grow very large in the chest and therefore hid her baby bump so much better. My understanding was Sybil was 6 weeks early, so potentially Madge wouldn't have been showing much. It depends a lot on how the baby is lying and where.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and the Lintons
PostPosted: 19 Mar 2017, 17:23 
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That was exactly the approach of Maria von Trapp's seamstress: keep the top larger than the bump, and no one will notice, though reportedly some reviewers referred to Mrs. von Trapp as "portly."

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