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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 May 2017, 21:02 
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Highland Twins is one of my favourites. I like Flora and Fiona - they are very brave, little girls and integrate well with the school. No, I don't like the depicture of their accents any more than I like that of Biddy's or Robin's baby talk but they, themselves, comes across as strong characters and I am sorry not to see more of them in future books. Incidentally, the irritation shown by the Marlow family when Peter talks "mummerset" strikes a chord!

The war background is very real. When first reading as a child, it seemed quite normal that Jo would welcome children with whom she had a slight connection rather than complete strangers. It's only now it seems strange that leading characters would not be fully involved in war work. It was lovely to see familiar characters escape from the Nazi regime.

Leaving the Erisay chart with the twins is an exciting plot device but perhaps it is also a double bluff as the obvious person to leave it with is Joey or the brother who is still at school. I feel sorry for Betty - she is isolated after her break with Elizabeth - and her bitterness and temper has a result way out of proportion.

On first reading, Jo learning of Jack's loss was devastating and very well written. I don't have the book to hand but I seem to remember her loss coming first and the triplets as fatherless second. I may be doing her an injustice here and stand to be corrected but I didn't have the impression she was going to be strong for their sake.

Many thanks to Aquabird for summarising the books and prompting these discussions.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 May 2017, 21:56 
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I originally had a 3-in-1 of Exile, Goes to it, Highland Twins and all three fit very well together. This is by far my favourite period of the series until the school moves to Switzerland really (with the odd exception).

Even though it's a very brief scene, I do like how human Jem is when he is told that Jack is dead. I dislike the second sight storyline (it's so random!) and it's a shame we rarely hear of the twins after this book, bar the odd mention - it's never quite clear if Fiona is really called Fauna forevermore (naughty Jo).

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 May 2017, 05:32 
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Vintagejazz wrote:
That is unbelievable. I sincerely hope no one was stupid enough to pay such a greedy price. You would get all three books in uncut hardbacks with good condition dustjackets for a fraction of that.


These people are extraordinarily greedy. I would be tempted to take them for a ride and offer to buy it and see just how far you can string them along. But that's just me ...

Audrey25 wrote:
I always wondered if Liz could have done more for Betty. When Liz started to mature she seems to have dropped Betty completely but maybe Betty was so difficult anything else was impossible and Liz was also young. At the end though Liz does seem to have thought she could have done more.


We are told they have a massive argument which is the final catalyst for the breaking of the friendship. And Betty clearly was not willing to change her behaviour and grow up.

As you say, Liz was very young and probably did not have the maturity when the first break happened to know how to deal with the situation. Strangely Betty seems to regard it as a strength of character to NOT change her ways.

If Liz had stuck with her, she would have been caught between a friend who refused to mature and her own understanding that it was time to grow up.

cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 May 2017, 14:09 
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I love this book, it was one of the ones I read as a kid and I particularly appreciated the fact that the characters were Scottish :D

The clothes worn by the twins are ridiculous - from everything I've heard no-one would be wearing full 'Highland' dress on a daily basis at that time (if ever) and certainly not females as it was a male costume. Even as a child I sneakingly suspected this and my mum kindly confirmed it for me :lol: The pb that I have doesn't include the accents but I think one thing is that it is written as the girls saying p for b - I don't know but Alba (Gaelic for Scotland) is pronounced Alpa (I think) so maybe this is accurate for the time?

The story is overblown but I love it, even if almost none of it makes sense it is a great read and everything is so well drawn. I particularly love Jem's shock at Jack's death and then the way he is almost apologetic about it - 'I've been selfishly thinking about my own loss'. :(

It's interesting that Shiena and the girls are cosseted before being thrust out into the wider world, but that their brothers were shoved off to public school at a young age - what must that have been like for them? The comments about the evacuees are depressing but believable (and understandable in a way - imagine people's reactions at being made to take in refugee children nowadays).

I think it is unfair to put much blame on Elizabeth - the friendship between her and Betty seems to have reached a natural conclusion and if Betty hadn't then collaborated with a spy they would have just drifted apart. It's only because Betty does such a terrible thing that Elizabeth feels guilty.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 May 2017, 19:03 
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Elisaveta tells her story; she, her children and Arletta escaped into Turkey, across the Mediterranean to Tunis, then to Algiers, then Spain, then Portugal, then England, where the Princess did char work until she had earned enough to get her party to Plas Gwyn.

I agree that Elisaveta's story is improbable; there must have been some point at which she could secretly contact someone, or even go to a British Embassy - she does have British ancestry, after all, and they would hardly throw her out onto the street. But I do think she is shown as being very courageous - it's just her and Arletta and her very young children, and she just gets on with it with no dramatics. She's a very likeable schoolgirl and an admirable woman, one of my favourite characters. (The recitation of all the countries she passed through reminds me of the voiceover at the beginning of Casablanca! Did she acquire some letters of transit?)
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What did stagger me was an Armada three-titles-in-one volume (Exile, At War, Highland Twins) priced at a modest £3,054.62

A writer friend once saw one of her books on sale online at some hugely inflated price. She queried it, because she had copies available to sell, so thought there was no justification for it. She was told that sometimes these prices aren't actually set by the seller, but are arrived at by the website - Amazon or whoever - using some algorithm which calculates the price based on how many people search for the book against how many come up for sale.
Quote:
one thing I do like about the book is the interaction among the juniors, with the various Bettany and La Rochelle members. They start out as very vivid characters, in spite of their young ages.

I think EBD is definitely planning for the future here. The girls who were at school in Tyrol will all have left in the next couple of years, so she needs a new cohort to carry the series forward.

I've got things to say about evacuees, too, but this is already quite a long post. Do people think it might be worth having a separate thread?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 May 2017, 20:22 
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Another annoying thing, which I guess is probably just down to it being a youngish child (a Chester? another to be playmate? it's when they twins are first introduced to the school anyway) - saying that the twins had learnt "Scotch" history. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 May 2017, 20:56 
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JayB, I'm going to start a separate thread for war-related issues. I'll put it in LB&LB.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 May 2017, 21:29 
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tartan-belle wrote:
Another annoying thing, which I guess is probably just down to it being a youngish child (a Chester? another to be playmate? it's when they twins are first introduced to the school anyway) - saying that the twins had learnt "Scotch" history. :roll:
I know what you mean, tartan-belle - even in England it would often be 'Scottish' by this date, although that other usage still comes up and even survives in phrases like 'Scotch egg'. I also know that 'Scotch' irritates the life out of lots of people (even on the odd occasions when it's correctly used), but in this instance I'd set it down to the usage of EMBD's generation, for whom it was familiar both sides of the border as far as I can make out. Still irritating, I know!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 11:34 
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I have known a Scot who found 'Scotch' perfectly acceptable.
The book was always one of my favourites as I owned it as a child and loved the cover. I likes the twins, the excitement and the second sight and accepted it all.
I still love it for the family and school scenes, though I think Shiena could have found a better place for the chart. The loss of Jack is very moving but I am not at all impressed with Jo taking to her bed yet again with three small children to care for. It's interesting to see Robin outside on an icy night without someone dunking her in a hot bath and rolling her in blankets! Julie Lucy seems very high profile in this book and is the token leader of the form but is later pushed out for a bit when EBD realised that Bride, being a Bettany must have centre stage. Also it annoys me that the lodge-keeper's wife is prepared to walk with Rosalie up the drive of Plas Howell and presumably return alone- why would it be easier for her? But it's very satisfying book with old friends appearing


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 13:12 
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Mel wrote:
Also it annoys me that the lodge-keeper's wife is prepared to walk with Rosalie up the drive of Plas Howell and presumably return alone- why would it be easier for her?


Things are always easier for the working classes... :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 13:37 
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I'm clearly in a minority, but this is one of my least favourite books!

I like the depiction of wartime life and concerns - one of the joys in the Chalet School (for me at least) is the social history aspects of them.

I think I struggle with the reliance on the second sight (which isn't necessarily believable to everyone) to resolve such a key plot as Jack's supposed death. Surely EBD could have come up with a different way of resolving this. We've told various of the girls have gone into the WRNS or nursing. Perhaps one of them could have recognised him and sent a wire through to say he was alright. I find the contrast between the second sight and some fairly grim realities of war a little too vast. There must have been readers who had their own relatives missing and unaccounted for and the suggestion that some people could see what had happened to their loved ones through second sight, whilst others continued in the agony of uncertainty, must have been quite hard to take.

I would have loved Joey to have taken in some evacuees who could have gone to the CS! Some good East End evacuees with character and traditional cockney spirit could have been great fun in the classroom, although perhaps too much like Biddy in The CS and Jo!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 13:49 
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I agree, the second sight story was a weak point in this book. We are also, apparently, supposed to just assume that Flora/Fiona was right and therefore EBD didn't need to explain Jack's low key return home towards the end of the book. I would have loved a really dramatic homecoming and a completely overcome Joey.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 14:56 
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Unlike others, I love the second sight story, accepted it totally as a child, am still open to believing there can be such things, and it still makes me weep when I read it....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 17:41 
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I agree, I'm perfectly willing to accept that such things as second sight exist, certainly for fictional purposes.

And we do get that really good conversation between Hilda and Nell, which is remarkably adult for a children's book. EBD doesn't write down to her readers at all there.

Another thing I like about the Jack's 'death' storyline is how Robin and Daisy, although they're shocked, sad and frightened, both manage to 'keep calm and carry on'.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 21:53 
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Just wondered if everyone thinks that a real life Betty would have escaped with no punishment after what she did?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 May 2017, 23:40 
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Vintagejazz wrote:
I agree, the second sight story was a weak point in this book. We are also, apparently, supposed to just assume that Flora/Fiona was right and therefore EBD didn't need to explain Jack's low key return home towards the end of the book. I would have loved a really dramatic homecoming and a completely overcome Joey.


I remember being very disappointed with how the second sight was written, when I first read this book. I had read the Emily books by LM Montgomery and the way she wrote about Emily's second sight episodes was much more powerful and better written. My initial thought was EBD should have left it alone as it wasn't anywhere near as powerful or good as LM Montgomery's depiction. I think the unabridged version is much better than the abridged version and think they weakened the depiction of it when they published the Armada books

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 May 2017, 01:34 
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Audrey25 wrote:
Just wondered if everyone thinks that a real life Betty would have escaped with no punishment after what she did?


What Betty did qualified as treason. She was a minor so could not have been executed but was certainly old enough to have served a custodial sentence.

Normally, I would have said that, if a child was concerned, everyone would have used some common sense. However, the whole affair was made so public. It's much harder to deal with something sensibly when all the people with axes-to-grind start weighing in.

I can't really understand what anyone had to gain by such a public denouement. If Betty had truly been a spy rather than a rather silly teenager, it would have still have been better to make the identification privately.

In RL? No and yes.

There were children younger than Betty who were prosecuted for offences under various war time legislation. Middle-class children, otoh, were more likely to be regarded favourably (Was picking-up something on a bomb-site looting or kids looking for souvenirs?)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 May 2017, 02:56 
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Mel wrote:
though I think Shiena could have found a better place for the chart.


It doesn't really make sense why Shiena or Archie don't leave it in a bank. If the whole problem was that it's a family secret - then it's highly unlikely the bank would need to know exactly what it was beyond 'important family papers.'

And if it's such a big secret then why was Shiena about to tell Joey? And then Joey leaves it in the bank :D

Victoria wrote:
Audrey25 wrote:
Just wondered if everyone thinks that a real life Betty would have escaped with no punishment after what she did?


What Betty did qualified as treason. She was a minor so could not have been executed but was certainly old enough to have served a custodial sentence.


It's as if EBD can't quite bring herself to make Betty's act totally bad.

She has pangs of conscience when the twins lose their brother and almost repents.

And her original plan was just to send the letter and scare the twins, but that was it. Was she actually going to look for the map herself?

And moreover when she lets the spy in, it's to go through lockers where she knows darn well the twins would never have left the map.

If she really wanted to help him, she would have made more of an effort to find out exactly where the map was. So she's not helping him because she's a traitor at heart, she's helping him because he's scared her into it.

But of course what she should have done was tell someone!

cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 May 2017, 07:25 
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Given that Shiena becomes mother of the family when she is only 12, and given that I could imagine there were attempts by the authorities to split them up after their father's death, I could see why Shiena doesn't trust a complete stranger (Jo) with a document like the Chart. The fact that the government has just thrown the family out of their homes - I could see why she wouldn't be too willing to trust anyone! Shiena has to grow up very quickly, even with her father still being alive (and the possibility of a step-mother, depending on whether the short-story is canon or not) and she seems to have imbibed a very strong feeling of 'family only' that would prohibit her entrusting a family secret to something like a bank. Besides, they would have had to leave Erisay to deposit the thing, and we know Shiena and the twins don't until they come to school.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 May 2017, 09:37 
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Shiena's very young and not at all worldly-wise. I can see that putting in the bank might not occur to her. Very possibly she doesn't even know which bank the family uses - they probably have a family solicitor who handles all business matters.

I think this is a point that only adult readers would consider. The Chart is really only a plot device to enable a 'spy' story, and Betty's story, and isn't important in itself.


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