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 Post subject: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 24 Jul 2017, 23:41 
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This week’s discussion is on Shocks for the Chalet School, first published in 1952. This book covers the winter term following Wrong, and runs concurrently with The Chalet School in the Oberland. Thirteen year old Emerence Hope, an Australian girl who has been brought up by parents who believe a child should never be told ‘no’, is sent to the Chalet School on the recommendation of Con Mackenzie, formerly Miss Stewart of previous annals of the school. Emerence’s upbringing puts her at immediate odds with the staff, prefects and other girls. Notable events:

A lengthy cable arrives for Miss Annersley from a Mr Hope, announcing that he is sending his daughter Emerence to the school on the next plane to England, as she has no manners and needs discipline. A stunned Miss Annersley muses over the cable with Rosalie.
The mail arrives, containing a letter from Con Mackenzie née Stewart explaining matters more fully; the Hopes live next door to them, and Emerence, having been brought up with no discipline, finally raised her father’s ire when she set their summerhouse on fire for fun, and very nearly set the house, the Mackenzies’ house and the house on the other side alight as well. Mr Hope had been impressed enough by Con’s anecdotes about the CS to pack Emerence off to it at once.
The next day, the Head, Matron and Rosalie are anxiously awaiting news from Canada, as Jo is due to give birth any day now. A letter arrives for Rosalie from Jo while the other two are in Carnbach, announcing that she has a son. Disappointed at the lack of details, Rosalie is just announcing the news to the other two on their return when they are interrupted by Jack Maynard, who has flown over to see to business at the San.
Jack announces that Jo has in fact had twins, Felix Nicholas and Felicity Josephine, born on the tenth of September. He also reveals that Robin has decided to enter La Sagesse as a postulant after Easter. The other three in turn tell him about Emerence and ask his advice, and he advises them to write to the Hopes and insist on putting everything on a formal business footing, and otherwise to hope for the best, as the fire incident may be just a one-off.
On the first day of term, Bride Bettany, feeling very conscious of the fact that she is now in charge following Peggy’s departure for St Mildred’s, escorts the Maeve, a friend, the Winterton girls and a friend of Polly’s to Bristol. Arriving there, she is greeted by Elfie Woodward, who takes her aside and tells her that her stepmother has just died, and therefore she will not be returning for her final year at the school as she is needed at home, much to Bride’s sorrow. When they reach Cardiff, Bride is whisked off by Miss Dene to help pick up a stationery order, and Miss Dene counsels her not to moan and wail in her letters to Elfie.
Meanwhile, Bride’s peers discuss the coming term, and realise that, with the departure of all of Special Sixth and Peggy’s year group, they are now going to be the new prefects. Loveday Perowne, whose aunt lives in the same street as the Woodwards, updates the girls on Elfie’s departure, and Nancy Chester reveals that the Kindergarten has been moved to its own separate house on the mainland, two miles outside Carnbach, with Miss Alton as Head. On arrival at the school, the girls spot a list of names including Bride, Loveday, Nancy, Julie Lucy, Tom Gay and Primrose Day pinned on the noticeboard, instructing them to go to the study.
The named girls go to the study, and Miss Annersley informs them that they are the new prefects. She states that four girls were in the running for Head Girl – Loveday, Bride, Nancy and Primrose, but that they chose Loveday as she was the eldest. She also announces that, as they have lost Elfie who was the only all-rounder they had for games, they will instead have a Games committee, with Bride as Chairman and representing cricket, Nancy as vice-chairman and representing lacrosse, Audrey Simpson representing hockey, Madge Dawson representing tennis, and Julie Lucy representing hockey. Primrose is named as Second Prefect.
The Head further announces that from now on, new girls will arrive a day later than the rest, following Carola Johnstone and Katharine Gordon’s unusual methods of arrival the two previous terms. She reveals that quite a few of the new girls are foreigners, including two who are the daughters of Arda van der Wint. She also announces that Peggy Burnett will be taking over from Miss Burn, who has left to be married, as Games mistress.
The prefects hold their first meeting to assign jobs and dole out duties, but are interrupted by the now-arrived Emerence Hope, who barges in, announces her intention of staying to listen, and cheeks them. Bride and Tom hustle her out of the room and Primrose locks the door, sending her into a fury. Matron comes along as she is hammering on the door and screaming, bundles her up in a rug and carries her away, leaving the prefects stunned at what they have collected in the way of a new girl this time.
After Mittagessen, Miss Annersley calls Mary-Lou, Vi Lucy and Doris Hill over and asks them to sheepdog Emerence. When told about rest period, Emerence scoffs and tries to run off, but the other three stop her and march her over to their usual spot, where Verity-Anne is already sitting. Emerence is sufficiently attracted to her to calm down, and the girls tell her about the various school rules. After the rest period, they take her to watch a netball and hockey practice, and Emerence is bewildered at the unselfish play of the girls.
Three weeks later, Emerence, in a bad temper, defies her dormitory prefect Clem Barrass over tidying her cubicle and slips off along the corridor and down the front stairs, where she is caught by Miss Dene. Miss Dene marches her to the back stairs and orders her to go up them and then come down again, but Emerence refuses. Miss Dene informs her that she will stand there until she chooses to obey, and for the entire morning the situation remains at a stalemate, as Emerence refuses to go up and down the stairs, and Miss Dene, the Head, Miss Stephens and Mlle de Lachenais take turns sitting and waiting until she chooses to obey.
Emerence eventually caves in during Mittagessen and goes up and down the stairs, and the matter ends. Miss Annersley forbids anyone from mentioning the incident to Emerence, and summons her to the study where she explains exactly why the front stairs rule is in place at all. She also tells Emerence to ask if she doesn’t know the reason for a rule, and Emerence agrees to try.
Four B set to work on their form garden to clear it of weeds, and Mary-Lou, having set everyone to work, produces a pair of her mother’s old scissors and announces her intention of pruning the roses with them, as they are not allowed the seccateurs. Miss Burnett comes along, spots what she is doing and is appalled. Mary-Lou gets caught in the rose thorns in her agitation, and Miss Burnett leaps over the flowers to help her, only to go crashing down into a pit and disappear completely from sight.
It transpires that the pit is in fact an old well, and the earth covering it had been loosened by all the rain. By the time Miss Burnett is pulled out and borne off to the San with a ricked ankle, the water has begun to pour in and is already four inches deep.
Michael Christy arrives that evening with some old maps of the Big House, and he shows them to the Staff. He explains some of his family history, including that one of his ancestors was a freebooter who built a mound in the grounds to hide his loot, which has never been found. The well is marked on the oldest map, dated 1776, but not the other two, and there is a wavy line running from it that nobody can identify.
News arrives that Mrs Christy has had a baby boy, Francis Michael, also known as ‘Blinkie’. Kester Bellever will be his godfather and Dickie his godmother.
The prefects obtain leave to take a long walk around the grounds one evening, and after examining the hockey pitch, they start to walk back to the house, passing a round dip in the ground known as The Hollow. A sunken path leads from it to the flower bed where the well is, and the prefects, in the middle of a race instigated by Bride, race down the hill with the intention of crossing it. However, as it is getting dark they fail to realise that it has turned to mud since the day before, and six of them find themselves ankle-deep in it before the others realise. Julie Lucy becomes so stuck that she has to be pulled out with a rope.
By the next day, the path has become a brook, and Michael Christy, having gone through the estate records, explains that The Hollow was at one time a pond, but that it and the brook had been drained and the well which fed it filled in, as the water had become stagnant and noxious fumes from it had been causing illness for the residents of the Big House.
The school departs for half-term – during which we learn that Mollie Bettany is very ill with Graves’ disease – and when they return, Commander Christy has more news for the Head and Rosalie; they have discovered a buried pipe leading from The Hollow which almost certainly comes out at the cliffs at Kittiwake Cove, and they believe that the reason it was filled in and the pond became stagnant was because Dai Lloyd the freebooter had hidden his booty there.
The Head and Rosalie return to the house to discover that Madge Russell has arrived, having flown over with Jem and her twin sons to be with Dick when he takes Mollie to see a specialist in London, as the belief is that the result will be a kill or cure operation. They discuss the new Maynard twins and school affairs, and Rosalie reveals that a distant aunt is taking over affairs at the Woodward household, and Elfie will be returning to school the next day.
The prefects arrive back from half-term, and hold an impromptu meeting to discuss ideas for the Staff meeting. Elfie and Bride arrive in the middle of it, and the former is welcomed back vociferously. They decide to ask the staff to dress up as a book title, and then devise various other activities.
At Abendessen that evening, they are halfway through the meal when Prudence Dawbarn confesses to Miss Annersley that she believes Emerence is locked in the prefects’ room, having made a bet with her that she could hide in a cupboard for the duration of a prefects’ meeting. Miss O’Ryan goes to investigate and rescues her. Miss Annersley hands her fate over to the prefects, who decide her punishment is to clean out the cupboards thoroughly, much to Emerence’s disgust.
Mollie Bettany is operated on successfully, and six days later the prefects hold their Staff evening, which Madge Russell also attends.
Emerence has a bad day and finds herself in Coventry after she swears at Mary-Lou, which only makes her even more mutinous. The embargo on going near the pond and the brook is lifted, and Miss O’Ryan takes Emerence’s form to see it. When Vi Lucy asks what would happen if the outfall got choked up, Miss O’Ryan says the pond and brook would flood. Emerence, who knows something on the subject as her father runs a sheep farm, takes note. That evening, prep is taken by Julie Lucy, who is in a bad mood and riles Emerence to the point that she decides to take revenge. The next day, when it is still raining hard, she disappears for half an hour.
The next day when the rain has cleared up, Julie and two others go to look at the netball court, and discover that the pond and brook have flooded. The Head and Commander Christy go to investigate and find that something has been deliberately pushed into the outfall to block it. The Commander and Griffiths the gardener eventually manage to dislodge it and discover it is an old scarecrow, tied with a girdle belonging to Emerence.
Emerence is sent for and admits to blocking the outfall. The Commander is all for giving her a good caning, but the Head refuses and instead relentlessly questions her until she breaks down in tears and, after a long talk, resolves to reform.
The Christmas play, written by Madge this year, is held, and the girls are delighted when Joey and her new twins turn up on a surprise flying visit.

So, thoughts on Shocks? What do you make of the one and only Emerence, her doings and her parents’ philosophy on child-rearing? How do you think this year’s prefects fare? Thoughts on the Elfie and Mollie Bettany subplots?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 00:09 
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This has never been a great favourite if mine. Partly, I think, because I read it after I'd read a lot of the later books, and so I already knew a lot of what happened.

I've never really liked Emerence. I don't find her interesting or funny, just annoying and very immature for her age. There doesn't ever seem to be anything more to her than that. Except that in Theodora she really does seem to be fond of Margot, but even then she's still breaking rules.

In Joey Goes, Robin's decision to become a nun is done and dusted. I'd thought there must have been a lot about it in a previous book, since Robin had been such a major character, and was quite disappointed on reading Shocks to find that all we get is one sentence from Jack to Hilda and Rosalie.

I'm not really interested in all the Christy family history, but I do like Michael Christy, so I enjoy scenes when he appears. He's one of EBD's better supporting male characters, I think.

I also like all the scenes with Bride & Co, and the way Bride and Elfie's friendship is shown to be close without being at all soppy, and with both of them still having a wider circle of friends.

I enjoy seeing more of the Bettanys as a family in the island books. Molly's illness and Peggy and Bride being HG brings them to the fore.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 07:52 
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The beginning's nearly as daft as Wrong :lol:. The Hopes send Emerence to the other side of the world, on her own, without even having received a letter of confirmation from the school. And send a brief note asking them to correct her faults, as if she's a faulty machine. Surely someone could have recommended a good school in Australia?! I like the storyline on the stairs though, if only because a) it's one of the rare times that Rosalie gets a storyline and b) it's actually acknowledged that someone might need to "wash" after a few hours :lol:.

The pirate treasure storyline is very Enid Blyton, and I think it shows the difficulty of keeping the CS as something different whilst the school's set in Britain rather than in the Alps. I like the Christys. After leaving Tyrol, they're the nearest that we get to people like the Maranis and the Mensches, parents who were closely involved with the school and part of the CS world.

Mollie's illness is strange, because we only see it at a distance. Even in Oberland, we see the staff and Peggy's friends talking about how hard it must be for Peggy, rather than getting the thoughts of Peggy herself. It says a lot that Madge came rushing over, even though we know from previous references that she's nervous about flying the Atlantic, to support Dick.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 10:11 
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Quote:
and six days later the prefects hold their Staff evening, which Madge Russell also attends.


Did anyone ever work out all the Book Titles? It drives me mad that EBD describes the dresses but then doesn't give the answer :D

I like the beginning when the prefect situation is announced and how they get themselves out the pickle of losing all the previous year's prefects. I wonder how the other sixth formers who are left out felt about just promoted fifth formers getting prefectships?

And how did EBD choose Loveday as she is barely mentioned before?

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 10:19 
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Joyce wrote:
And how did EBD choose Loveday as she is barely mentioned before?
Cheers,
Joyce


I think she was chosen because EBD had already decided to get rid of her the following term and needed someone she didn't mind losing. Whereas had it been Tom or someone like that, it would have been much harder to replace them with Bride.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 10:24 
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And she has such a pretty name it's a shame not to focus on it, however briefly :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 10:37 
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I think she felt that both the readers and the CS girls would think it looked like blatant favouritism if Bride was chosen to be HG immediately after Peggy, but, as she wanted Bride to be HG, she needed someone to take the job briefly and then be written out. She didn't want to lose major characters like Nancy and Tom, so she brought in a minor character instead.

ETA - she seems to have got over her sensitivities a couple of years later, when Betsy takes over from Julie, and then 3 head girls out of the last 4 are members of the MBR clan :roll: .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 14:04 
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Joyce wrote:
Quote:
and six days later the prefects hold their Staff evening, which Madge Russell also attends.


Did anyone ever work out all the Book Titles? It drives me mad that EBD describes the dresses but then doesn't give the answer :D


This irritated me as well. I think of myself as fairly well read, but apparently not to EBD's standards.

Emerence reminded me of Cornelia Flower, but she doesn't get the same sort of redemption that Cornelia does. Emerence appears to spend an awful lot time at school (does her age get EBDed to bring her closer to Margot?)without ever really changing in character or development, while Cornelia gets over much of her initial naughtiness to become a very strong young woman, rather than just a nuisance.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 15:34 
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Looks like I might be in a bit of a minority here! I love Shocks, along with all the Island books from Carola onwards. Yes, it's ridiculous the way Emerence arrives, but I find her a strong and rather likeable character - I love the stairs episode particularly. We see plenty of my favourite prefect group, Bride and Co, and I forgive Loveday everything for her lovely name!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 18:01 
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I generally like the Armishire/Island books but this one quite run of the mill.

Loveday has got a pretty name but I don't quite rank it with Viola Lucy or Daisy Venables/Rosomon (sp).

I liked seeing Bride & Co and also loved seeing Madge back. Is it this book that mentions the strong friendship between Madge and Mollie as well as the fact that they were sisters-in-law? We always think of Joey being top dog but although she would always have been close to Madge, it sounds as if Mollie was closer to Madge than she was to Jo and Dick just as close by that stage to Madge as Madge was to Joey.

It was good to see Rosalie being brought into the storylines but that was possibly to fill the Joey/Miss Wilson gaps.

I didn't mind Emerence but always thought she was a bit different from the rest. I didn't particularly like Cornelia with whom Emerence was compared.

I thought all the stuff about Joey writing notes before the twins were born just mad. Wasn't she counting her chickens a bit? I didn't really see the point of Felix except as a possibly cleverer version of Mike. If there had only been Felicity though she might have been spoilt - horror!

I think the Maynards should have ended with no more than seven though. It got ridiculous as did Joey flying over from Canada in the middle of winter with very young twins -


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 19:08 
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Audrey25 wrote:
I think the Maynards should have ended with no more than seven though. It got ridiculous as did Joey flying over from Canada in the middle of winter with very young twins -


I did roll my eyes quite a bit at that part. There was a big announcement in Wrong about Jo not coming back from Canada until the next spring because the journey would be too much for her after having just given birth, yet here she is in the very next book! And in winter when the weather would have been extremely dodgy for flying/sailing to boot.

I'm not really a big fan of this book, or the Island books in general barring Carola and Bride. There's just something about the general feel of them and the location that I can't warm to. I enjoy the Plas Howell books much more, even if the location is a bit less interesting.

The beginning bit of this book, with everyone all on tenterhooks about Jo, then that head-scratching bit about her writing a note before actually giving birth, then Jack dropping in just to confirm everything, seemed to go on forever. Possibly it was because I was late in starting the read-through last night and didn't want to be up until the small hours when I had work today, but I just kept thinking 'For the love of God, get on with the story!' Same with all the well/brook/pond stuff; after Peggy Burnett falls down the well it just goes on and on, and school events fade into the background as a result.

I'd want to throttle Emerence if I met her in real life, but it's interesting to see a character who really has had absolutely no discipline coming to the school. I think Miss Annersley handles her pretty well, realising that all she really needs when it comes to rule-keeping is to be told the 'why' behind them, and reminding the staff that they can't expect to completely undo nearly fourteen years' worth of no discipline in just a few weeks.

Emerence is aged down by a year or so, I think. She's thirteen and eleven months at the start of this book, so she should be coming up for nineteen by the time she leaves at the end of Theodora, but is said to be only seventeen. And considering all the fuss that's made in New Mistress about Yseult Pertwee being sixteen and only in Inter V, nobody says a word about Emerence also being there at the age of sixteen/seventeen...

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 20:38 
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Emerence, like the Ozanne twins, seems to be allowed to coast through her schooldays. I assume she's not dim, since I don't think Margot would have been so attracted to her if she was, so I don't know why the staff didn't crack down and make her work to get up to a form nearer to what was right for her age. Would have had the added advantage of separating her from Margot. Before New Mistress, she should have been a Senior, while the triplets were still Middles.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Jul 2017, 20:50 
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Just a brief-ish additional comment about Mollie Bettany's illness - whilst I'm watching tonight's Holby City, in which a patient is being treated for Graves' Disease/goitre. There are a lot of illnesses and conditions in the books which are just vague (Mlle Lepattre's illness, Rosamund Sefton's condition, Joey's "displaced organ", etc), not to mention all the people who are just "delicate" or "not strong", but Mollie's illness is specified and named, which I think does work better.

(The Holby patient is not in danger of death, only of missing an important business meeting whilst recuperating, but, to be fair, medical knowledge and techniques have improved a lot since Mollie's time.)

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Jul 2017, 02:03 
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Aquabird wrote:
The beginning bit of this book, with everyone all on tenterhooks about Jo, then that head-scratching bit about her writing a note before actually giving birth, then Jack dropping in just to confirm everything, seemed to go on forever.


It's just another way of bringing Joey in front and centre. And yes, it's annoying and all you want to do is scream "just tell us what the fudge she had!"

And the obsession with having more kids than everyone else is just sad. Thank God there was no social media in those days - Joey would be the ultimate humble bragger.

I do like Shocks though because we have moments with the prefects and the middles. Normally it's one or the other, so it's nice to have a bit more of a balance.

cheers,
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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Jul 2017, 10:04 
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I am another who is fond of this book. I like all the Bride, Tom and Co focussed books though. I love all the scenes with the prefects, and Rosalie and the stairs always makes me smile. The books can't go back to being family books at this point, but I like that we get a lot of aspects outwith the school in this book. It might be ridiculous if you think about it too much but it is nice to see Hilda and Rosalie before term, and the journey to school, etc. We get to see more family interactions than were possible in the Swiss books and the characters are so much more rounded because they have lives outside of the school. Bride is worried about her Mother and missing her sister. Elfie can't stay on at school as she has to look after her family. Tom is aware of monetary issues with her family (as much as they might not be our modern ideas of going short). Nancy and Julie do lots of boating at home and clearly spend a lot of time together outwith school.

Also, I love the wee bit at the staff evening where Bride is so exuberant because Mollie is going to be okay and admits to pinching Madge's clothes. It feels so real, especially the staff letting her get away with being a bit cheeky because they understand and there are no younger children there.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Jul 2017, 10:46 
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I like reading these threads on various books.One reason is someone quotes something from the book, I can't remember it so have to get the book to refresh my memory, which is fun. :)

The bit about Joey and the babies at the start did annoy me, there was no need to make a performance of it, tell us she had twins.Flying with two very young children in those days, in winter, would not have been my idea of fun, but EBD probably thought she had been away too long.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Jul 2017, 15:47 
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I like this book, but it suffers a bit because the ones on either side of it are stronger.

The head-girl situation is a bit contrived, particularly the way Miss Annersley explains to the girls the details of exactly how they decided (four candidates, go by age). It also highlights a weakness of the finishing school plan, which leaves them with the same number of prefects, half the candidates, and no-one with experience. And the fuss with splitting the Games Prefect job. They've got Tom, who is athletic and good with her juniors, and much better suited to Games than Hobbies. She's good at woodworking, but most of the girls do more traditionally feminine hobbies.

I do like the scenes of pre-term life, and I enjoy Emerence as a heroine. She's believable as a totally undisciplined only child of wealthy parents, who is not really bad or nasty, and it's also realistic that she wouldn't be totally reformed. They improve her behaviour, but there are limits to what they can do without parental support.

As an aside - I find it interesting that the girls who lag in form and get held back repeatedly are almost always discipline problems - Bright but lazy Margot, spoiled Emerence, the Dawbarn twins, girls like Cornelia and Evadne earlier. We don't see girls who are so academically advanced they can't be held back but still discipline problems, or well behaved, hard working girls who struggle with school work. Even girls like Joey or Robin, who miss large chunks of school due to illness, stay in form with their age mates.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Jul 2017, 16:30 
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Stacie misses two years of school, then goes to the Annexe, where the average age is about 11, and then gets into Oxford ... where she presumably does extremely well, as she stays on to do a doctorate.

Julie Lucy repeats a year because she has time off due to appendicitis, which is rather more realistic.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Jul 2017, 18:32 
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Quote:
well behaved, hard working girls who struggle with school work

Rosamund Lilley fitted that definition when she started at the school - never having done languages, or having done some of the other subjects to the level they were taught at the CS. But she caught up quite quickly.

Quote:
Stacie misses two years of school, then goes to the Annexe, where the average age is about 11, and then gets into Oxford ... where she presumably does extremely well, as she stays on to do a doctorate.

Stacie was always self motivated, and always knew what she wanted. Margot, on the other hand, had to be chased and chivvied, and only settled down to work steadily when she was fifteen or sixteen.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Shocks for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Jul 2017, 22:19 
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Alison H wrote:
Stacie misses two years of school, then goes to the Annexe, where the average age is about 11, and then gets into Oxford ... where she presumably does extremely well, as she stays on to do a doctorate.

Julie Lucy repeats a year because she has time off due to appendicitis, which is rather more realistic.


And then goes on to start the training she hopes will lead to a career as a barrister... This after we are told just a few years earlier that Julie is not very bright. I think EBD gets the brains of Julie mixed up with the brains of Betsy.


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