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 Post subject: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2017, 23:03 
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This week’s discussion thread is on the second holiday book of the series, Joey Goes to the Oberland, first published in 1954 and covering the summer holidays following Changes. This book follows the Maynard family as they leave Howells for their new home on the Görnetz Platz, chronicling their journey across Europe and their reunions with old friends along the way. Notable events:

Jo sits on the edge of a packing case, leans too far back and falls in, wedging herself so tightly that neither she nor Robin and the triplets who answer her screams for help can pull her out. Jack arrives home and manages to tilt the case over so that they can pull her out. Apart from a cut to her arm and slight bruising on her spine, Jo suffers no harm, but Jack gives her a dose to settle her.
Robin tells Jo and Jack how she had heard the Call some years ago, but because of her health and knowing how much Madge and Jo wanted her around, she had felt she ought to stay out. However, she now knows that it’s what she’s destined for.
The next day, the Maynards set to work on various chores in preparation for the move. Charles and Mike, initially sent to help Anna in the kitchen, are eventually sent out to the barn to play, where they discover some tins of blacklead. Charles proposes they paint themselves all over with it and then go and scare the girls, but Jo walks in on them as they are doing so and sends them to the kitchen to be scrubbed down.
After trying soap and water, oil, paraffin and turps to get the blacklead off with no results, Jack phones Jem, who brings round a lotion which works, but which smells so awful that everyone gives the two boys a wide berth until they are clean again.
Daisy’s wedding to Laurie Rosomon takes place, with Jack giving her away and Jo taking mother of the bride role, as Madge is still in quarantine and Jem has been called away to the San to perform an urgent operation. Primula, Robin and the triplets are her bridesmaids, and she and Laurie spend their honeymoon in Berne.
That evening, Jo has the idea of taking Primula, who has been fretting over Daisy’s marriage, with them to the Platz, to keep her busy until Daisy and Laurie send for her to join them at their new home. Primula is thrilled at the idea. The next morning, Jo tells Robin about it, and mentions that she has had a mysterious letter from Simone, hinting that something big has happened.
The day arrives for the Maynards and Primula to set forth, and Jem and Dick drive them to Kent to catch the ferry to Boulogne. A thunderstorm blows up just as they arrive, and they realise that they have forgotten their macs.
When the ferry reaches Boulogne, the party are preparing to go through Customs when Jo is seized upon by Evadne Lannis, who is at the dock with her father to meet a friend off the boat (who doesn’t turn up). Jo shows them her family and Primula, and Mr Lannis helps them with the luggage and Customs and sees them onto the train to Paris, much to Jo’s relief.
At Paris, the party is met by Simone and André, and Jo is astonished to find that they have a chauffeur, as the last she had heard, André had a minor post in his great-uncle’s business and the de Bersacs were living in a small appartement in Paris, and having to be careful with their income.
As the car takes them through Paris, Simone says that they will keep the party for the next day, and then the day after André will take them to Belfort to catch the Basle train, rather than having to go from Paris. When the car finally stops some way out of Paris, Jo is amazed to find herself at a huge château, and Simone explains that it has been left to André by his great-uncle, along with his business.
Simone sends all the children and Anna off with her maid Babette, and shows Jo and Primula up to their rooms. The night nursery nearby and she shows them Tessa and her new son Pierre, then takes them along to an ancient bathroom. After Jo has washed and undressed, Simone serves her a light supper, then leaves her to sleep.
The next morning, Simone brings Jo breakfast, and explains in more detail how André came into his inheritance. She takes Jo on a tour of the château, and that evening she and André ask for her opinion. Jo advises them to shut up any rooms they won’t use, sell what jewellery and furniture they don’t want, and use the money to replace any worn tapestries with wallpaper and board over the stone floors to make them warmer.
The next day, André drives the party to Belfort and puts them on the Basle train. When they get there, they are met by Jack, and Felicity has a temper tantrum. Jack tells Jo they are not going straight to the Platz, but are spending the night with friends, much to Jo’s bewilderment, as she can think of no one they know in Basle. Jack drives them to a block of flats in the suburbs, where Jo is astonished and delighted to find that the friends in question are Frieda and Bruno.
Frieda explains that Louis, Gerard and Gretchen were all ill with measles the previous winter, and Gretchen has never fully recovered. Their doctor advised that Innsbruck did not suit her, so Bruno applied for a transfer that Easter, got it at short notice, and eventually managed to rent the flat for them, though Frieda hopes that by the time their lease is up they will have found a house with a garden.
Jack takes the older children up to the Platz the next day, then returns on the Monday to collect Jo, Mike and the twins. When they reach the Platz, however, they discover that the furniture vans have arrived a day early and are ready to be unpacked there and then. Jo and Jack tour the house deciding which rooms will be used while Primula and the triplets start bringing in furniture.
Everyone spends the night at the school, and Jo gets up early the next morning and sneaks out to continue moving chairs and tables from the hall into their respective rooms. Jack catches her and scolds her for not having something to eat first. They go back to the school just in time to stop Karen, who spotted the window they left open when leaving, from going to Miss Annersley with a report of burglars. She tells them what she thinks of them, then gives them a light breakfast.
Everyone spends the day finishing unpacking, and Miss Annersley tells Jo that Daisy has rung up to say that she and Laurie will be arriving the next morning. When she and Rosalie come over later for Kaffee und Kuchen, she asks Jo what they will name the house, but Jo doesn’t know yet.
That night, Felix wakes Jo with his teething, and not long after she has soothed him and gone back to sleep herself, Len wakes her again with the news that Con is sleepwalking and nowhere to be found. Jo and Anna search the house for her in vain, until eventually she wakes up and finds herself straddling the roof above the front door, having got out of a French window, and screams for help.
Jo climbs up a ladder to reach her, but Con is too scared to move, and the ladder topples over sideways, tossing Jo into a thorn bush. Con lets go of the roof in a panic, rolls off and lands on top of Anna, just as Jack, returning from the San, and Miss Annersley and Rosalie, roused from next door by all the yelling, arrive on the scene.
Daisy and Laurie arrive the next day, and explain that they will have to leave at the end of the week, and want to take Primula with them so that she will have a few weeks at home with them before going to Welsen. Jo agrees, and says she intends to have a tea party before they go, and invite the Graves and Peters. She says that Hilary, who is pregnant, is due in October, and that the Peters have adopted a two year old girl called Lucy whose parents died in a train crash.
The day of the tea party arrives, and Jo makes some sandwiches with unusual fillings, but Daisy and Laurie, who sample them, veto some of the worst of them. When the guests assemble, Jack announces that they are calling their new home Freudesheim, or Happy Home.

So, thoughts on this second holiday book? Do you like the descriptions of the packing up and the journey across Europe? Did you enjoy the description of Daisy's wedding? What about the reunions with Evadne, Simone and Frieda? Con’s sleepwalking incident?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 00:31 
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This is not one of my favourite books, although I do like the catching up with old people parts (Simone, Frieda, Evadne, Daisy).

I do wonder what Joey and Jack were thinking with their travel plans, though! This is a woman who needs to be put to bed for the day after falling in a packing box, and she's planning on taking eight children age ten and under (including two infants), plus luggage, across the England channel and by train to Switzerland, with only Joey and Anna to manage things. Their sole plan for a break is to stop in to Simone's small Paris flat for a visit.

As it turns out, Primula makes a last minute decision to join them, giving them an extra adult. They meet Evadne and her father by chance, who speed them and their luggage through customs. Simone turns out to have a country estate and servants, so Joey can be packed off to bed for a good rest while the other adults look after the kids. And Frieda and her family are in Switzerland, so there is another stop there, and Joey gets left with the younger children for an extra break while Jack takes the elder ones up to the Platz.

Imagine the trip without that. Joey would have collapsed somewhere partway across France, leaving Anna with eight kids, a fainting adult, the babies screaming for their dinner, Mike and Margot taking off in random directions, and a shaky grasp of French.

I also find it kind of sad that Madge is shunted to the side at Daisy's wedding, which I guess is the final step in pushing her off the stage so Joey gets the full spotlight.

As an aside, I've started working on a drabble with Robin telling her story from her own perspective. It turns out to be quite different from how other people viewed her.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 03:16 
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jennifer wrote:
I do wonder what Joey and Jack were thinking with their travel plans, though! This is a woman who needs to be put to bed for the day after falling in a packing box, and she's planning on taking eight children age ten and under (including two infants), plus luggage, across the England channel and by train to Switzerland, with only Joey and Anna to manage things.


That plan was insane. If for nothing else because tired kids, strange meals and being told to sit still for hours on end on a train, is just asking for tantrums and crying. Is it realistic only baby Felicity would have issue with that?

And this book has the infamous "real family" comment from Joey which has been castigated for being tactless and even cruel. Though I give her a pass on that simply because she is talking to an old and dear friend who she has clearly discussed the issue with.

It's the same as when she asks Rosalie why she never married and the remark is just laughed off as being "oh that's just Joey."

I guess it's a question of knowing the boundaries of the friendship and how far you can push it. If she had said to a stranger that "one child is not a real family" then that would have been insanely tactless.

I actually think Len's comment to the wedding guest was worse. As well as Joey not scolding her for rudeness.

We are always told how well behaved the Maynard children are, but looking at it from the guests' POV, she would forever afterwards be telling people the "oldest Maynard girl has no manners."

Why didn't Joey just tell her "when someone pays you a compliment, just say thank you."

Cheers,
Joyce


Cheers,
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Last edited by Joyce on 22 Aug 2017, 10:51, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 07:45 
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That "real family" crack Jo makes to Simone really annoys me! But I love the scene in which Karen tears strips off Jo and Jack for leaving the kitchen window open.

I think Laurie Rosomon is lovely, although I'm sad that Daisy apparently gives up her glittering career without a second thought, and it annoys me that EBD's obsession with the Maynards means that Madge and Jem aren't even allowed to attend the wedding because she wants them out of the way. And where were Gwensi and Beth, Daisy's best friends? It's very sweet of Laurie to be concerned about Primula, when he must really want to be alone with Daisy. And it's nice to see Primula, who's usually forgotten about, given a big role in the book.

I find a lot of it rather silly, though. All that stuff with Jo falling into a packing case. And how come she didn't know that there'd been such huge changes in Simone and Frieda's lives? How did they even arrange to meet if the Maynards didn't know that the de Bersacs and the von Ahlens had all moved house? And they decided to stay an extra day because Jo had forgotten to pack the raincoats?! Why not just say that Simone invited them to stay on so that she could show them round the chateau properly? And I assume there was no food rationing in Switzerland by then, but I still find it hard to believe that, after years of living through rationing, Jo would have wasted good food with those silly sandwich fillings. My grandparents and great-aunts/uncles were still paranoid about not wasting food in the 1980s and 1990s.

But I do like catching up with old friends. I'm sorry we don't see more of Frieda, given that she's not far from the school.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 11:40 
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I don't know how such an experienced traveller as Joey managed to be so disorganised about this journey. She'd have been more efficient about it when she was Head Girl, I think.

They needed at least one more competent adult, preferably one who was an experienced traveller. Primula was a last minute addition, and she was just along for the ride; she didn't actually do anything.

They also should have sent more of the luggage in advance, or at least booked it straight through to Basle or Interlaken, so they didn't have to worry about it at every stop. Failing that, another person to take charge of the luggage.

As far as we know, this is the first time Jo has set foot on the Continent since they all had to flee in '38; it would have been nice to see Jo reflecting a little on that.

I enjoyed seeing Evvy again. And I like 'setting up home' stories, so I enjoyed the description of the new house, deciding what each room would be used for, and the unpacking and arranging.

I suppose Jo had got used to not having rationing while in Canada. But yes, one would think she'd have been conditioned not to waste food in the war years. Even before that, I don't suppose Madge would have been pleased at that sort of waste, even when they could afford it - the 'starving children in Africa' mindset.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 12:02 
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On first reading the book the journey doesn't really hit you, especially if young.But then later you can see just how disorganised it was, there appeared to be no thought, no planning to it at all.Young children cannot realistically be expected to sit quietly for hours on end, I get bored these days on long journeys, the fact that only Felicity got fed up surprised me, the others would surely have been as fed up.

The sandwich incident bugged me too, not so much about rationing, but more what a wasteful childish thing it was to do for an adult.Is it to show Joey's young side, if so for me it failed, to me it just made her look rather silly.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 12:18 
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There's just too much filler for me in this book - the whole of the first chapter is Jo falling into a packing case! Then there's all the endless detail about who sits where on the train and in the car, who's feeding the babies, etc. If EBD had to chronicle the move to Switzerland from the Maynard POV, she should've done it as a Mystery style novella and just kept in actual events, like Daisy's wedding, the reunions with Simone and Frieda, Jo's first impressions of the Platz and the tea party at the end.

I'm no real fan of Jo or indeed the Maynards from this point on, though, which probably doesn't help improve my views on this book.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 19:28 
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Although lots irritate me about it, this is actually one of my favourite books in the series. For some peculiar reason I love it!

We see lots of favourite characters and I like the way it could almost be a series of short stories.

On the other hand...I lament the leaving behind of the Russells and why could EBD at least have shown heart and given them Daisy's wedding? She was their relative after all but no, oh so confident Joey had to rule. It was all Joey after this.

I also have a sneaking suspicion Robin joined the Convent because she was not wanted anywhere else. Robin had left Madge 12 or so years before to live with newly married Joey but Joey now had no use for a 26 year old woman hanging around.

As for Daisy, she had only left school six years previously. How long was medical training in the early fifties? Such a shame she had to give up her career. I was glad to see her though with her own home and also giving Primula a home.

I wonder too why Jo did not know about Simone's changed circumstances. I wonder was she a bit jealous of Simone with her remarks about draughty chateaux. Loved all the talk about making the chateau comfy.

I liked seeing Frieda, loved the comments about newly wed Daisy and Laurie and wondered what the new CS truly thought about having Joey's offspring foisted on to them when they were trying to set up a school and, yes, I also thought the journey was mad!

Jennifer, looking forward to seeing what you write about Robin.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 21:09 
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This is by a long way my favourite book of the series.

It, and Jo to the Rescue, are the ones that I reread regularly.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 22 Aug 2017, 22:29 
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Not one of my favourite books I'm afraid as it seems to chronicle the beginning of the Joey obsession which led to other characters being side-lined. Not just Madge and Robin but also, although it's not apparent until later books, Hilda having to consult Joey about absolutely everything and almost all school decisions having to be run past her. If she had to go to Switzerland it's a shame that she wasn't living slightly further away.

I do like the reunions with Simone and Freida, I like to think that Jack knew about the changes in their circumstances but kept it from Joey to surprise her, but think that the Evadne reunion was to convenient.

I also dislike the way that, despite them having to move an entire school during a summer holiday, Joey just dumps her children on Hilda and the staff while she does her unpacking.

Sorry, this is where my dislike of Joey in the Swiss books starts to become apparent.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 01:12 
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To do a move like that, with multiple children, without disaster, they'd have to change things significantly.

First plan - leave the oldest six kids back in England, with Madge and Jem, or Dick and Mollie (or both). Then hire a professional nanny to be in charge of the twins as Joey, Jack and Anna travel out to meet the movers. Arrive a few days before the movers, and hire help to make sure the place is totally clean and ready. Travel down to town to stay at night and get food. When the movers arrive, the nanny manages the twins, and Joey, Jack and Anna supervise the hired help as the major furniture, bedding, kitchen supplies and so on are unpacked. Jack and the Nurse travel back to England to fetch the rest of the kids, leaving Anna and Joey and the twins at the house, where they can get the kitchen set up, and unpack and arrange the bedding, so people can sleep and eat. Jack and Beth (as mother's help) bring the younger children back, along with at least two other adults. They make the trip at a reasonable pace, booking sleeping accommodation for night trains and spending the day in hotels.

I don't know if it would have been practical in those days, but they could also have hired a minivan with a driver, made the trip in stages with regular stops, As a kid, my family did regular cross country drives to visit family in the summers, which is a much longer drive than France to Switzerland (over 5000 km). We had three kids, varying in age over the years from 1 to 15. The first day was the hardest, getting used to sitting in the car, but then we'd settle in - playing roadside bingo, singing songs, watching the scenery, looking for animals. We'd stay in a cheap motel, where we'd eat a cold breakfast, drive all day, with brief stops to stretch morning and afternoon, and a picnic lunch, dinner in a restaurant at around 5pm, and an hour or two driving after dinner.

They'd still need to hire a couple people to watch the kids in Switzerland during the unpacking phase, and probably stay in a hotel in Interlaken for the first day or two, until the bedrooms and kitchen were set up.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 03:43 
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jennifer wrote:
To do a move like that, with multiple children, without disaster, they'd have to change things significantly.
I don't know if it would have been practical in those days, but they could also have hired a minivan with a driver, made the trip in stages with regular stops. The first day was the hardest, getting used to sitting in the car, but then we'd settle in - playing roadside bingo, singing songs, watching the scenery, looking for animals.


Even the days with long haul plane travel and all the entertainment available on board, you still get bored cranky kids crying all over the place.

Doing it the way Joey did with children and luggage and multiple train stops was asking for trouble. If ever you are going to lose something/someone, it's at the station when you are trying to do a thousand things at once. So let's say Joey is dealing with the luggage and customs, Anna is holding the twins, then that leaves Primula to look after 6 children all under the age of 10!

And why did they need to take so much luggage? If you are paying for your furniture, books etc to be taken by van anyway then why not put all the clothes and linen in with them as well?

Why not a backpack each for the children and Primula with a change of clothes/pjs and toiletries? Then one large baby bag for the twins, and one suitcase for Joey/Anna change of clothes and toiletries. Then each kid is responsible for their own backpack.

jennifer wrote:
They'd still need to hire a couple people to watch the kids in Switzerland during the unpacking phase


Don't the school people end up taking care of the younger kids? Like they don't have enough to do setting up a school!

Audrey25 wrote:
I also have a sneaking suspicion Robin joined the Convent because she was not wanted anywhere else. Robin had left Madge 12 or so years before to live with newly married Joey but Joey now had no use for a 26 year old woman hanging around.


Never really thought about it that way, but Robin really is left in limbo.

She's told not to get married, she tries settlement work and has a breakdown, so she has no prospects for marriage or work. I guess she could try teaching but she has no education in that direction. So a convent was pretty much all that was left to her.

Cheers,
Joyce

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 07:45 
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She was well enough to go ski-ing with Zephyr, so she can't have been that ill :D . Wasn't there some tale about her getting caught in bad weather and getting a cold? I'm not sure how that directly relates to settlement work :roll:, but presumably she could have got an office job, especially given that she spoke three languages fluently. It would probably have been a lot less physically demanding than being a nun.

I think EBD just wanted her, as well as the Russells, removed from the scene. Even if we accept that Robin had a genuine vocation, there's no reason she couldn't have entered a convent in Switzerland, or in the French Alps.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 09:26 
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it does seem the EBD cleared every other long standing character away to give the Maynard's, and Joey in particular, the limelight.
To deprive Jem and Madge of Daisy's wedding wasn't necessary, Daisy was Jem's relation and there was no reason to invent an operation to get him out of the way.
I hadn't actually realised that Robin was 26 by this time, did she go to Canada with the others, is that why she is sent off to a convent there perhaps?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 09:47 
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Yes, they all went to Canada. Madge went into some sort of nursing home run by nuns when she gave birth to Kevin and Kester, and the girls went to a convent school.

When Jack tells Hilda, Nell and Rosalie that he's got some news about Robin, they all assume that he's going to say she's got engaged, so they evidently had no inkling that she was thinking of becoming a nun - although, to be fair, it had been a long time since she'd left school, so they wouldn't have been seeing much of her.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 09:48 
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And this is the book where Joey calls her children "brats" umpteen times!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 10:19 
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For me the book is far too busy starting with Jo falling into a crate - and hadn't she spilled a cup of coffee yet again prior to that? Another story about the children smearing themselves with gunk as they did in Three Go, And Jo and a La Rochelle book. No need for Jo to preside at Daisy's wedding at all. I think everyone agrees that the journey is ludicrous, but I'm always amazed that Frieda's apartment can fit in eight extra children and four adults. The same goes for Andre's car! Then the silly sandwiches with Jack suggesting blandly 'Cut some more!' as though the kitchen has an everlasting supply of bread, butter, cold meat, salad etc. Then another sleepwalking scene. It's exhausting to read.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 11:07 
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Liz K wrote:
And this is the book where Joey calls her children "brats" umpteen times!

Is there something wrong with brats?

I think I have to give up reading this thread. My blood pressure is going through the roof :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 11:30 
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Location: Bedfordshire
cestina wrote:
Liz K wrote:
And this is the book where Joey calls her children "brats" umpteen times!

Is there something wrong with brats?

I think I have to give up reading this thread. My blood pressure is going through the roof :D


Nohing whatsoever!!!! Her kids - she can call them what she wants!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Joey Goes to the Oberland
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 11:32 
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Finding out about the Sale
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Joined: 27 May 2006, 13:28
Posts: 844
Location: SE England
Quote:
Robin really is left in limbo. ... I guess she could try teaching but she has no education in that direction.


She has an Oxford degree; she didn't need anything more. It wasn't necessary to have a teaching qualification if one had a degree back then. And she joined a teaching Order, so she must have had some interest in teaching.

I think EBD just didn't know what to do with grown up Robin. Had we even seen her since Rescue, as opposed to her being mentioned? In fact, wasn't Highland Twins the last time she played a leading role? I wonder if EBD herself was surprised at the way Robin developed in Exile, or if she planned it that way? I don't feel she, or Hilary Burn, ever get the credit they deserve.

EBD didn't want to take her to Switzerland with Jo - and it would have been a bit much in the 1950s to have a woman verging on her late twenties as a hanger on in the household. There wasn't anyone suitable for her to marry, and in EBD's mind being a nun was probably an even greater reward anyway.

Obviously EBD didn't plan it this way, but one might suggest that Joey's increasing OTTness in the Swiss books is partly due to the removal of Robin's, and Madge's, influence.


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