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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Mar 2017, 20:37 
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It's quite strange how Jo's career begins. She first talked about becoming an author back when she was only 13 and Jem sent her story into a magazine competition. Then it wasn't mentioned for years, until someone else - maybe Marie? - said "You will write your book" when they were discussing their plans for the future. When it comes to it, Jo doesn't set out to write a book to be published, like Jo March in Little Women does, or even like Elizabeth Ozanne does. She insists that she's only writing the stories to entertain Daisy, and it comes across as if she's only sending her first book to a publisher because other people persuade her to. Then, when she gets paid, she donates the money to charity - which is very kind of her, but seems to be saying again that this is more of a hobby than a career. I know she was comfortably off at Die Rosen, but it's not as if she was a Georgian aristocrat for whom it would've been infra dig to earn money from a trade/profession, so I'm not sure why it's all shown as happening almost by accident than by design. It soon changes and she becomes a professional author talking about proofs and all the rest of it, but the way it starts off does seem a bit odd to me.

And, yes, she was very lucky to have her first book accepted by the first publisher she sent it to! Jo March's struggles are a lot more realistic.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Mar 2017, 21:25 
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I suppose Jo's reticence is part of the CS ethos to be self-deprecating about talents. University at that time seems to be only for those who 'need' to work, no-one goes for their own development or interest in learning. It is odd though, that she has to be prodded into writing. In Jo Of Madge is convinced that the family baby will become a writer. EBD never makes her a 'great' writer, perhaps because she has already given her a doctor husband and eleven children.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Mar 2017, 22:27 
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It would have been more interesting if Jo had had more of a struggle to get published. But I suppose EBD might not have known if she would write any more CS stories, once Jo had left for good, and wanted to give her an upbeat ending.

And it was a lot easier to get published back then. Jo's start as a writer is similar to Georgette Heyer's. She was first published at nineteen (Jo was eighteen) and her first book originated as a story she wrote for her brother, who was ill, IIRC.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2017, 00:31 
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There was no guarantee that Joey's book would be acceptable to a publisher. And she had had a bit of a reality check when Matey gave an unflinching critique of her first attempt.

It may have seemed arrogant for Joey to go around proclaiming that she was going to be a successful author before she had had her first book accepted.

I think that even these days, one wouldnt assume success at anything until it happened.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2017, 07:14 
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Alison H wrote:
And, yes, she was very lucky to have her first book accepted by the first publisher she sent it to! Jo March's struggles are a lot more realistic.


And LM Montgomery's Emily series which is apparently based on her own experience of getting published.

Years later when talking to another girl who wants to be a writer, Joey does talk about starting plenty of stories but never finishing them as she encourages the girl to keep writing.

But that's hardly a 'struggle', so yes, it would have been more realistic for Joey to be turned down a few times rather than be accepted straight off.

Noreen wrote:
Not unheard of in real life, though - Georgette Heyer and Stella Gibbons come to mind.


And Pippa Middleton. :D Though I suspect her 'connections' had more to do with it.

Cheers,
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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2017, 13:45 
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I think an important difference between Joey and Jo March, Emily etc is that Joey just writes a school story, whereas Jo March's struggles are mostly to do with her writing a 'serious' book - she manages to get sensation stories etc published without much difficulty (and she does publish her 'serious' work, to mixed reviews). And I have only read the first 'Emily' book but I can't imagine she was writing a school story.

One of Joey's early stories is a historical tragedy and even in New she is thinking she'd like to write a great historical novel about Mozart's life. Maybe she originally intended to write something like that, which is why her school story was just meant for the younger girls to enjoy. Once she had written it though (and Matey had read it), presumably she realised it might actually have a shot at publication, and then she found her niche.

I like what she does with her earnings too - it fits with EBD's religious values as a 'thank offering'.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2017, 17:06 
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Noreen wrote:
Not unheard of in real life, though - Georgette Heyer and Stella Gibbons come to mind. I suspect you would like Jo Returns, Carrie - wish I'd got a spare copy to lend you.


We have a couple of very good second hand book shops in my town and I often check to see if they have any CS books. I have picked up one or two so fingers crossed. I'll keep you posted Noreen!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2017, 17:37 
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Good hunting, Carrie - I think it was quite a large print run even in hardback, and ISTR that there are no major cuts even in the Armada/ Collins paperbacks.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2017, 02:18 
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Loryat wrote:
I think an important difference between Joey and Jo March, Emily etc is that Joey just writes a school story, whereas Jo March's struggles are mostly to do with her writing a 'serious' book - she manages to get sensation stories etc published without much difficulty (and she does publish her 'serious' work, to mixed reviews). And I have only read the first 'Emily' book but I can't imagine she was writing a school story.


No, Emily definitely does not write school stories :D Like Jo March, she has a good market for her short stories but the novel is a harder sell and is turned down a few times.

would it really be easier to get a school story published than a more serious story? I have no idea :shock:

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2017, 12:28 
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I felt Jo giving her first earnings to charity was an example of "first fruits". She wasn't giving away the money because she didn't need it but as a thanksgiving.

"It's my first earnings, you know"


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Apr 2017, 17:44 
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Alison H wrote:
Jo isn't the only one who feels suddenly sick at that point: it makes me want to throw up :lol:. And couldn't she have shown a bit of concern for Peggy, who had caught measles and been very ill?


She did (and I quote): "Madge", said Jo later on, when the children had gone to bed, and the two were together in the salon, "I'd no idea Peggy had been so ill. It gave me a horrid shock when I saw her"

And at the beginning of the book, when she's talking to Madge on the phone about measles, which is when the vomit-inducing bit happens, she does say poor little Peg and also asks about the others before she asks about Robin. Then she says she hopes Peggy will be all right.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 13:56 
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Joyce wrote:
Loryat wrote:
I think an important difference between Joey and Jo March, Emily etc is that Joey just writes a school story, whereas Jo March's struggles are mostly to do with her writing a 'serious' book - she manages to get sensation stories etc published without much difficulty (and she does publish her 'serious' work, to mixed reviews). And I have only read the first 'Emily' book but I can't imagine she was writing a school story.


No, Emily definitely does not write school stories :D Like Jo March, she has a good market for her short stories but the novel is a harder sell and is turned down a few times.

would it really be easier to get a school story published than a more serious story? I have no idea :shock:

Cheers,
Joyce


I don't know either actually, but I'm assuming it would based on the popular market - nowadays I'm sure it's easier to get a thriller or mystery published that a 'serious' novel.

But this is all just assumption haha.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 15:56 
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Joyce wrote:
...would it really be easier to get a school story published than a more serious story? I have no idea :shock:
It's difficult to get hard evidence - but certainly in the 1930s children's books generally sold for lower prices and were taken less seriously, so they were much less of a financial risk for the publisher to take on. IIRC, Elinor seems to have got Gerry Goes to School accepted fairly readily in the 1920s.

SLOC has just obligingly come up with a price for an adult novel published at around the same time in the early 1930s as The Chalet School and Jo: Anthony Powell's first novel, Afternoon Men, was first published at a price of seven shillings and sixpence (37½ pence), whereas And Jo cost less than half that, at three shillings and sixpence (17½ pence).


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 16:08 
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Noreen wrote:
SLOC has just obligingly come up with a price for an adult novel published at around the same time in the early 1930s as The Chalet School and Jo: Anthony Powell's first novel, Afternoon Men, was first published at a price of seven shillings and sixpence (37½ pence), whereas And Jo cost less than half that, at three shillings and sixpence (17½ pence).


Okay, I'm going to be pedantic and annoying but 7/6 in the 1930s is worth waaaay more than 37 and a half pence now. That's what the value would have been in 1971. You have to allow for 80 odd years of inflation. 7/6 from the 30s is worth over £20.
Sorry, but it really is one of my niggly little bugbears that everyone still sticks with 1971 values when working out pre-decimal to nowadays currency.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 16:37 
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Annoying, yes, but you're right, of course :D - my apologies. The curator side of me is so used to old, old, old prices and pre-decimal money that I always forget that other people don't adjust for date, and am always reproved by somebody if I don't do the conversion. The point was really only that the adult book cost more than double the price of the child's one.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 16:53 
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Noreen wrote:
Annoying, yes, but you're right, of course :D - my apologies. The curator side of me is so used to old, old, old prices and pre-decimal money that I always forget that other people don't adjust for date, and am always reproved by somebody if I don't do the conversion. The point was really only that the adult book cost more than double the price of the child's one.


And I apologise for being an irritating little wotsit. It really is just one of those things that gets to me. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 19:13 
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Speaking of the 2:1 ratio, I note that my 1960s Armadas are priced at 2/6 and my 1960s paperback copy of "Miss Buncle's Book" at 5s.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2017, 21:44 
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Thanks for making it a significant point, RubyGates and Victoria!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2017, 02:52 
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Noreen wrote:
SLOC has just obligingly come up with a price for an adult novel published at around the same time in the early 1930s as The Chalet School and Jo: Anthony Powell's first novel, Afternoon Men, was first published at a price of seven shillings and sixpence (37½ pence), whereas And Jo cost less than half that, at three shillings and sixpence (17½ pence).

I'm glad someone clarified that the parenthetical pence were new pence just after decimalization, as I was trying to convert how many pennies I thought were in a British shilling and becoming very confused! Anyhow, it was helpful to have the two prices in the same units.

But back to the book-

I really enjoy Jo Returns, although in many ways it reads to me as though it were originally meant to round off the series, with the protagonist moving into adulthood. For purposes of the story, Mlle. LePâttre's illness mainly ensures that Joey gets a full term to explore the staff side while writing her first book. There's every expectation within the text that the CS will continue as we've come to know it, with Mlle. fully recovered. Polly is a lovely character, but also a particularly effective focus, allowing the author to weave the viewpoints of all CS constituencies into an organic whole, rather than a loose series of episodes. I think EBD is also near her peak with the bits that bring even minor characters to life, as when we see Herr Laubach go from irascible art teacher caricature to worried, caring husband seeing promise in the Hobbies Club.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Jo Returns to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2017, 11:33 
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Having now obtained a copy of 'Jo Returns' (thank you Victoria) I can say that I have really enjoyed it. Although there are some cringe making bits (when Robin arrives for half term) overall I thought that Jo here is at her most likeable. Also I think EBD does the transition from head girl to virtually staff quite well. It does show up some interesting scenarios though - I know the staff were under pressure but they seem very happy to let Jo (who has done no teacher training, or even degree training) become to all intents and purposes 'one of them' even to the extent of making sure that she is in the staff room. I suppose it all feeds into the idea that 'anyone can teach'. I applaud Jo for sticking to it even when she admits it is not really for her.
As for the book - as a member of a couple of writing gps I say a heartfelt 'thank you' for modern technology and the 'edit' button!

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