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 Post subject: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Sep 2017, 21:50 
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Having Miss Ferrars as Form Mistress
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Good evening all, another week, another discussion thread. :D This week it’s A Genius at the Chalet School, first published in 1956 and split into two books, A Genius at the Chalet School and Chalet School Fête in paperback, which is what I’ll be using for this thread as this is another title I lack in HB/GGB format. This book covers the Easter term following Mary-Lou and follows fifteen year old Nina Rutherford, a recently orphaned musical genius who is enrolled at the Chalet School at the behest of her guardian, Sir Guy Rutherford. Nina falls in with Mary-Lou’s Gang and soon settles in to life at the CS. Notable events:

Nina Rutherford, daughter of gifted composer Alan Rutherford, is at odds with her cousin, Sir Guy Rutherford, who has come to take guardianship of her following her father’s sudden drowning in Lake Maggiore. Sir Guy wants to ensure that she has a well rounded education before specialising in music, but Nina is adamant that she does not need any lessons except in music, as she means to reach the first rank of concert pianists.
Several days later, Sir Guy overhears Nina’s playing and realises that she really is gifted to the point of genius. He agrees to allow her to ship her Bechstein piano back to England with them, but is horrified when, on the day they are set to leave Italy for England, she appears at breakfast dressed in deep mourning. Nina refuses to give it up, however, and they depart for Basle.
At Berne, Hilary Bennet, Vi Lucy, Barbara Chester and Lesley Malcolm, on their way home for the Christmas holidays, share a compartment with Sir Guy and Nina, and they soon begin to talk. Nina is stunned to learn that Margia Stevens and Jacynth Hardy both attended the CS, and the girls assure her that gifted pupils are allowed extra time to work at music. Nina begins to wonder if she should ask to be allowed to go to the CS if she must go to school, and Sir Guy is very pleased to note that she has lost her look of abject misery.
Arriving at the Rutherford home Brettingham Park near Newcastle, Nina lapses back into miserable silence. Sir Guy’s wife Yvonne and daughters Alix, Anthea and Alison don’t know what to make of her, although the three girls feel sorry for her.
One day Lady Rutherford finds Nina sitting practising in a freezing cold room – fuel shortages meaning only the main rooms are heated – and refuses to allow her to practise any more that day, much to Nina’s fury. Unable to use any other piano in the house, she rages at her cousins and then goes to her room and cries until she is freezing cold and weary. Lady Rutherford agrees to heat the music room for her so that she can practice four hours a day, on the condition that she tend to the fire herself and ensure it doesn’t go out. Nina agrees, and later on, Sir Guy sends for her and tells her that he has enrolled her at the Chalet School.
Nina arrives at the Chalet School for the Easter term in the company of the Gang, and Vi takes her to the study to see Miss Annersley, who informs her that they will try her in Va, and that she will have as much music practice as she needs, and will take theory with Mr Denny. Maeve Bettany is then summoned to take Nina up to Cornflower dormitory and show her everything, before depositing her in the Senior common room with Hilda Jukes and several other Va girls.
The next day at Prayers, Miss Annersley announces that the girls will once more be in dormitories and common rooms according to Houses rather than forms. She also states that this year they are allowed a School Certificate Centre and so most of the Seniors will be taking one of School Cert., Higher or London Matriculation. Barbara Henschell is returning to be Matron of St Agnes, with Matron Wood taking over Ste Thérèse and Matron Bellenger St Hild.
After Prayers, Mary-Lou takes Nina to see Miss Dene about her timetable, and Nina finds she is allowed to drop science, art, algebra and geometry in favour of music, and as she is already fluent in French and German due to travelling about so much with her father, she will only have two lessons a week in those. She is thrilled when she learns that her piano teacher will be Herr von Eberhardt, whom she has had before, and thanks Miss Dene for taking so much trouble over arranging the timetable for her.
The prefects hold a meeting, and due to the new House arrangements, Lala Winterton, Elinor Pennell and Ailsa Thompson have been promoted to full prefects, with Blossom Willoughby, Nan Herbert and Leila Norris joining Sybil Russell as subs. After sorting out jobs which includes the invention of a third Games prefect, second Hobbies prefect and second Library prefect, they set to discussing that year’s Sale theme. Several ideas are vetoed due to a lack of available costumes, before Elinor hits upon the idea of an Old English Fair theme, which goes down well with the others.
Jo arrives as they are discussing ideas and approves of the Old English Fair theme. She tells them that she can’t be at the Sale this year as Maynard #9 is due in April, but does provide them with a Folk Play that they can use as part of the entertainment, and promises some small prizes, and to rope in Hilary, Phoebe and various other Platz residents to help as well. Ailsa tells her about Nina, and Jo counsels them to be patient with her as she will doubtless look at things differently from them because of her genius.
A few days later, Nina slips out of the common room after Abendessen to go and practise, but Miss Dene catches her and informs her that no girl may do any sort of work after prep. She locks the piano and warns Miss Lawrence to lock the others too so that Nina can’t break the rules again.
The next day after a morning ski run, the snow begins again and Va go for gym. During a game of leapfrog, Hilda Jukes, who has been warned twice already not to put her full weight on the girls’ backs when jumping, forgets in her excitement and puts her full weight on Nina, who collapses under her and wrenches her wrist. Distraught at the idea that she will lose a day or two of practice, she rages at the apologetic Hilda and then bursts into tears.
Nina refuses to forgive Hilda for the accident, and Hilda, who receives rows from Miss Burnett, the Head, the rest of the form and Miss Lawrence in succession for carelessness, hides in the art storeroom and cries herself to the point that Matron sends her to bed. Mary-Lou, who found where Hilda had hid herself, goes to the Head to ask permission to go to Freudesheim to speak to Jo about the situation, as she can see how miserable both Hilda and Nina are.
Jo asks Mary-Lou how she felt the first few days after the toboggan accident when she didn’t know if she would ever walk again, and Mary-Lou admits that she felt awful. Jo tells her that that is how Nina feels. She tells them to be patient with Nina and to keep off the subject of the accident as much as possible.
Jo has Nina over to English tea, and after some effort, persuades her to see how pointless it is to hold grudges, and to look at the accident from Hilda’s point of view and how awful she feels about it. Nina agrees to speak to Hilda and say sorry for being so beastly to her.
St Mildred’s holds their pantomime of Beauty and the Beast, with Robin Hood and the Merry Men thrown in for good measure.
Nina goes over to Freudesheim one morning to practise when she finds Hall in use, and Jo is greatly impressed at her playing. As Nina is leaving to return to school she accidentally drops an unread letter from Lady Rutherford, and Jo sends Beth Chester – who accidentally lets slip that she is engaged – over with it.
Nina reads the letter during rest period, and is deeply dismayed to learn that Alix, who caught a cold at the beginning of the Christmas holidays, never quite got rid of it and has since been seriously ill with pleurisy and pneumonia after getting caught in the rain during a walk, and now appears to have developed TB. The Rutherfords are coming out to Switzerland at once to give her better air.
Mary-Lou sees Nina’s expression as she is reading the letter, and gets her alone and asks her about it. Nina shows her the letter, and when Mary-Lou sees that they are going to Grindelwald, she asks why they aren’t going to the San instead. Nina realises that she has said nothing about it in her letters home, much to Mary-Lou’s astonishment. She advises her to write to Lady Rutherford at once, and to take rooms at Unter die Kiefern, as the ones her mother and Commander Carey were staying in are about to be vacated as they are moving up to the Rösleinalp.
Half-term arrives and the Seniors head off to Lac Léman, where they spend the next few days exploring the surrounding district. On the final full day, they decide to explore Geneva and get on the steamer. A woman is there with two small boys, and she recognises Nancy Wilmot, then the rest of the staff. She introduces herself as ex-Saint Winnie Silkworth, now Winnie Embury. They exchange news, and while on the subject of Jo, Miss Annersley informs the staff at large that Jack rang up the pension that morning with the news that Jo gave birth to a baby girl at six that morning. Winnie also remarks that her sister Irene is Matron of the hospital in Newcastle where Alix is being transferred from, and that Nina and her mother are cousins of Winnie’s husband.
The Gang and Nina go with Miss O’Ryan to do some shopping in Geneva, and Mary-Lou and Verity buy a brooch for Mrs Carey, while Nina buys a bangle as a present for Alix, and also a big box of chocolates for the staff, much to Miss O’Ryan’s horror. She accepts it only when Nina promises not to do such a thing again. After déjeuner, they go to see the cathedral and Nina and Verity stay to listen to the organ while the other climb to the top, where Miss O’Ryan loses her hat in a brisk breeze and her hair comes loose.
The school at large learns about the new Maynard baby when they return from half-term, and Con proudly informs Sybil and the Gang that she looks like her, and that she will be called Mary Cecilia after Robin, who is her godmother. Sybil suggests Cecily as a short and is taken up on the idea.
Miss Derwent, suffering from toothache, takes Va for an English lesson and is very scathing about their work. Vi makes a dry remark in an undertone to Hilda Jukes, who has an uncontrollable fit of giggles, enraging Miss Derwent further.
After Break, Nina is summoned to the study and is gone for the rest of the day. When she returns after Abendessen, she tells the Gang that the Emburys have come up to see her and took her to spend the day in Interlaken, and that she is to spend the Easter holidays with them. As Martin Embury is very musical, she knows she will be happier with them than the Rutherfords, who although well-meaning simply don’t understand how she feels about music.
Betsy Lucy pulls up Emerence Hope, Connie Winter and Francie Wilford for speaking English on a French day. They cheek her, but then realise it may result in a Head’s Report, and Emerence and Connie hastily apologise. Betsy lets them go, but Francie refuses to apologise and Betsy sets her a long poem to learn in the prefects’ room as punishment.
When Betsy is summoned to the study and Francie is left alone in the prefects’ room learning the poem in a thoroughly bad temper, Nina looks in looking for Katharine Gordon. When she learns what Francie is doing, she reads the poem – Alfred Noyes’s Sherwood – aloud with delight and proclaims that she would like to set it to music sometime. Her interaction with Francie has the effect of mellowing the latter, and when Betsy returns she recites as much of the poem as she has memorised and haltingly apologises. Betsy, knowing what an effort it was, readily wipes the slate clean and sends her off.
Nina goes to Freudesheim to practise on their piano as the Sale stalls are being set up in Hall, and Beth, listening to her play, is surprised to hear her stumbling over what sounds like a very simple piece. It transpires that she is composing an air as a welcoming present for Cecily, and she has just got the first part right when Jo arrives home from the San with the baby. Nina is delighted to be the first non-family member to see her, and the Maynards are very proud when she tells them about her composition, which she plays for them.
Miss Annersley sends for Nan Herbert early one morning, and Nan is thrilled to discover that The Chaletian has arrived in time for the Sale after all. She and the other prefects distribute the girls’ copies after cubicle work, and Nina is amazed to discover that one of her compositions has been included. Mary-Lou had found it lying on the form room floor and had been impressed enough to send it in on her behalf, although she felt half-guilty about it afterwards. However, Nina is thrilled at seeing some of her work in print, even though she knows it wouldn’t pass muster professionally.
The day of the Sale dawns, and Miss Wilson rings up Miss Annersley very early to warn her to set up a trestle table, as they have a surprise to bring, which turns out to be another dolls’ house from Tom Gay. The school at large is thrilled to pieces as they hadn’t expected a house that year now that Tom is at Oxford. Tom also sends them the competition: to guess the sum the house makes.
The Sale is held and is opened by Elisaveta, who is in Switzerland with her children, her husband having died in an air crash five years before. Jack later urges her to come out to the Platz and she agrees to consider it. Sir Guy Rutherford comes to see Nina, and tells her that Lady Rutherford and Alix are in Interlaken, and that Alix is better than they expected after the journey but will have to spend two or three years out in Switzerland, therefore they will be looking for a house in the area. Tom’s dolls’ house, which makes 520 francs and 20 centimes, is won by Frieda von Ahlen, and Elisaveta offers to donate the same again if Tom will make another house for her own daughters. In all, the Sale raises 1824 francs and 17 centimes.

So, thoughts on this Easter term entry? What do you think of Nina and how the school handles her genius? What about the incident with Hilda Jukes? The half-term excursion and reunion with Winnie Embury, and her connection to the Rutherfords?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 00:02 
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This book has actually got quite a few personal connections to EBD.

First of all, she dedicated it to her mother who was to die a year or two later.

The home of the Rutherford family, Brettingham Park, was located near Newcastle in the area where EBD grew up.

Nina's surname of Rutherford is also the maiden name of EBD's mother.

There is also the strong musical connection. Nina is a piano playing genius and EBD was very musical.

It is also interesting that Nina's cousin is titled - quite a rarity in CS land after the school leaves Austria. We have Sir James Talbot in the early days, Jem is given a knighthood during the war and the Carews have theirs presumably for services to acting. Was this Elinor telling everyone of the respect in which she held her family?

Other interesting points. We see the journey home for what must be the only time and we see Vi & Co without ML proving extremely well that they are independent, forthright characters too


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 01:20 
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I think that this is the best of the three depictions of musical genius in the series. Nina is extremely talented, but has also been trained from a very young age with the single goal of being a concert pianist (by a father who was compensating for his own disappointments). She's intensely dedicated and hard working, but also socially isolated and not used to having to consider other people, or anything other than music. I like the way they show the Rutherfords struggling to deal with her - they are sympathetic, but her upbringing is pretty alien to them, and unlike her father they need to consider practical details and aren't willing or able to organize the household around her training needs, or let her jeopardize her health for practice.

It's also a case where sending her to a foreign boarding school makes sense. Nina doesn't have any attachment to the Rutherfords' home (or the Rutherfords, for that matter), so it doesn't feel like an exile to her. Sending her to the same school as the other girls would be a complete disaster, while the CS is willing to offer a curriculum that is designed around her music. And she already speaks the relevant languages. The CS shows a deft hand too - letter her specialize, but also explaining *why* she needs to spend time on other stuff - enough math to do her finances, literature and hobbies for long journeys - but also teaching her to compromise.

The leapfrog incident annoys me, though. I'm kind of klutzy, and there's no way I could do a game of leapfrog with appropriate consideration for a musician's wrists. For that matter, I have some wrist issues that would result in me easily being injured, as I can't do yoga poses that involve putting my own weight on my bent hands. And Hilda gets way more grief for an honest accident than, as others have pointed out, Margot does for nearly killing Betty in a fit of temper. Nina should have been excused from leapfrog as too risky an activity.

One thing I can't figure out is why EBD re-introduces three Scholastica's characters in the space of four books. There's Nancy Wilmot as maths mistress, Maisie Gomm sending her daughter to the CS school (and naming her after Joey) and encountering Winnie Embury, who becomes a regular in the series. Winnie and Maisie never attended the CS, while Nancy was a student for a couple of semesters.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 05:16 
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The 'fat shaming' the CS ladies indulge in after meeting Winnie is a bit sad coming from a school which teaches girls to not make personal remarks. But EBD does make plenty of comments about weight throughout the series so clearly she did not regard those as 'personal'.

Quote:
Elisaveta offers to donate the same again if Tom will make another house for her own daughters


Tom and her family and friends spend all year making and furnishing the house and now she's asked to make another one. I hope she pushed back and told them where they could put that idea. :D

Quote:
I like the way they show the Rutherfords struggling to deal with her - they are sympathetic, but her upbringing is pretty alien to them, and unlike her father they need to consider practical details and aren't willing or able to organize the household around her training needs, or let her jeopardize her health for practice.


I also like the way the Rutherfords learn to deal with Nina because clearly they have no idea and they take her on as an obligation only to realise she doesn't want anything to do with them. Even the school has trouble dealing with her when she loses her practice time or the piano that she wants to use.

Quote:
The leapfrog incident annoys me, though. I'm kind of klutzy, and there's no way I could do a game of leapfrog with appropriate consideration for a musician's wrists.


My sympathy for Hilda skyrockets here - she gets told off by the class, by the gym teacher, by the music teacher AND by the headmistress. She cries herself sick and Nina is a total b* to her.

It's a fascinating thought of EBD's concept of forgiveness here. What if Nina continues to refuse to forgive Hilda? Does Hilda simply accept that situation and the ball is in Nina's court now? Because by that stage it was Nina who was very much in the wrong.

Or does Nina simply apologise and make friends to appease everyone else? But I don't see Nina being that sort of person.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 11:20 
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It is interesting consideing the prominence of the gang over the past few books, that while Nina's initial contact witht he school was through members of the Gang, and they look after her when she first comes to the school, she never beomes a member of the Gang. She seems to remain friendly with most of the members, but never becomes part of the inner circle.

Partly that reflects the way the Gang becomes less of a unit as the members are split over a wider range of forms, but partly it reflects Nina's own capacity for friendship. Music is the centre of her life,a nd friendships come a long way behind - an attitude which stands behind the whole Hilda incident. This is very different from Margia and Jacynth, who were both an active part of the social side of the school.

Margia could have been prefect or Head Girl, and Jacynth was both. It is hard to imagine Nina putting the school above music even for the duties of a sub-prefect.the school does give her a more normal veiw on life than her father had, but it only goes so far.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 11:37 
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Joyce wrote:
T
Quote:
Elisaveta offers to donate the same again if Tom will make another house for her own daughters


Tom and her family and friends spend all year making and furnishing the house and now she's asked to make another one. I hope she pushed back and told them where they could put that idea. :D


As a fellow dolls house maker, my guess is that she jumped at the idea with enthusiasm. What she and her helpmates will not have wanted to do is to make an identical house and contents. As long as they were allowed to give their imagination free rein again, they would have been delighted to have another house to tackle.

You underestimate the power of miniature controllable worlds Joyce :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 13:09 
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cestina wrote:
You underestimate the power of miniature controllable worlds Joyce :D


True, and they don't give her a timeline. Ten years later and Elizaveta could still be waiting :D

I guess I was thinking more that Tom gifts the school with these wonderful toys every year and instead of saying thank you, she gets told to make another one.

And while it doesn't have to be exactly the same, it's implied. And Tom ropes in friends and family to help with furnishings and dolls, so it's not just her that needs to remake the house.

I wonder how Miss Annersley posed the 'request'? "We have a wonderful opportunity to make more money..."

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 13:17 
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I like this book as Nina is a very believable character. When I last read it I thought there were echoes of Eustacia in the story-line. Girl with unusual background is orphaned, taken from her comfort zone to live with strange and not totally sympathetic relations and then sent away to school. Of course Nina is very different from Eustacia because she can feel emotion and does grieve for her father. Also the CS does seem the best place for her music and she is used to living on the continent. I'm not too keen on the Rutherford girls though who seem interchangeable and I thought the Alix with TB sub-plot a bit over-dramatic.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2017, 18:36 
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Joyce wrote:
cestina wrote:
You underestimate the power of miniature controllable worlds Joyce :D


True, and they don't give her a timeline. Ten years later and Elizaveta could still be waiting :D


That is so true! When I used to do a talk on dolls houses I labelled it a "One day hobby". As in "One day I am going to finish that shop, create that music salon, build that Art Deco house...."

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 12:13 
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How would Veta be able to afford a 500-franc dolls house? Does she work? Doesn't she need the income for her own family? Does she get some kind of stipend/pension after her husband died? I assume she lost a lot of cash and assets because of the war. Five hundred seems like a lot of money to drop on a toy.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 12:18 
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A dolls house is not a toy. It is a way of life! :shock:

But given that it appears to translate as around £380 in 1950 then yes, it is a great deal of money.....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 13:56 
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I enjoyed the extended introduction to this one. it gave a sense of how many changes poor Nina had experienced, with the Chalet School being just one more in a list of moves and upheavals, all during a period of intense grief and mourning for her father.

I think Elinor did well in giving us an insight into Nina's mind and just how different it is to others because she has that overmastering passion to which all other things are secondary. She's definitely putting her own thoughts into Joey's mouth when she has her explain this to Mary-Lou.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 16:30 
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I agree with all you say, Ailidh. EBD gives us a clear-sighted example of how much is missing is the heart and mind of a genius, for all their great gifts. Their single-mindedness means they miss out on the things that make life beautiful: friendship, love, putting others first, being willing to share, helping others and caring for their woes. Nina admits the school has taught her some of all this, especially friendship, but will the lessons remain part of her later on in life, when her career consumes her? I'd like to think she still find time for friendship and love, for they can only enhance her music.

As as a doll's house enthusiast myself, I second cestina's words: "You underestimate the power of miniature controllable worlds, Joyce." I'm sure Tom would have met the challenge with equanimity.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 17:20 
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As others have said, EBD writes the character of Nina excellently with real insight. Was this 'only' because she was a good author or did she have experience of genius - her own or that of somebody else?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 17:51 
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I don't think EBD was a genius either literary or musical. She certainly had thought deeply about how totally driven people behave and brings up the subject again with Prof. Richardson. Jo's talents in the early books were considered remarkable but EBD turned away from that story-line as she wanted Jo to be wife, mother, friend etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 18:52 
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I like this one because it's a different sort of storyline, but the bit that always stands out for me is how horrible everyone is to poor Hilda Jukes! She injures Nina completely by accident, in a game organised by a teacher, and is given a load of grief by her classmates and even sent to see the Head.

I do like Sir Guy as a guardian. He really tries to do what's best for Nina.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Sep 2017, 19:03 
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I confess the thing I remember about this book is the Hilda Jukes issue.I felt when reading it for the first time how unfair everyone was to her, it was an accident.You can understand Nina being anxious but why does everyone else get at her.
I could relate to it being cold near Newcastle coming from up north myself and was a little excited to actually know where EBD was talking about( I was younger then lol)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Sep 2017, 01:40 
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Learning the difference - can and may
Learning the difference - can and may

Joined: 30 Jan 2004, 00:07
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Location: Taiwan
With Nina, I think it's not just the genius part, but also her upbringing. It sounds like her father was the only constant in her life. They moved from place to place at intervals, and kept to themselves, and the whole focus of both their lives was raising and training Nina. They didn't communicate with relatives, and it doesn't sound like she had friends, or had to interact on a regular basis with people who weren't being paid (teachers, hotel staff, waiters, that sort of thing). She had an affectionate relationship with her father, but that was it.

So even if she didn't have any particularly special talent, she would have had gaping holes in her social upbringing, and would have had problems adapting to family or school life. In fact, her talent probably made it much easier, as it gives an acceptable excuse for her selfishness. As it is, she gets special treatment, like a custom schedule and being excused from various required classes, and is widely regarded as being extraordinary.

I don't think it would have gone as badly as Eustacia's case, because Mr Rutherford was a more reasonable parent in many ways that the Bensons, but it would have been a lot harder for her that it was.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Sep 2017, 17:45 
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Admiring Tom's latest effort
Admiring Tom's latest effort
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Joined: 27 May 2006, 13:28
Posts: 868
Location: SE England
I like this one. Nina is a type of character EBD hasn't done before, and I think she is successful in conveying what music means to her. The fact that music is her link to her deceased father makes it even more important.

Sir Guy comes across as a nice, conscientious man doing his best for a girl who is after all quite a distant relative.

I don't think Nina's quite so wrapped up in her music as EBD suggests, though; she notices and is appreciative when someone makes a special effort on her behalf - Cousin Yvonne and her practice room, Miss Dene and her timetable, the mistresses on the half term expedition - more so than some other girls her age might be. She's also immediately concerned when she hears that her former teacher's wife has been ill. Fundamentally, she is a kind, well-mannered girl.

I should think a lot of her rage at Hilda is her grief for her father spilling out. She's had a lot to cope with in a relatively short period of time - losing her father, the change from Italy to the NE of England in winter and a whole lot of strangers, then another change to the CS and a whole lot more strangers.

I agree Hilda gets a hard time, but I should think the mistresses are probably exasperated with her. She's seventeen and in a form with girls of 15/16, and as 'heedless' as a Junior Middle. She might well be leaving school at the end of the summer term and doesn't seem at all prepared for the responsibility of work or training of any kind. The girls should have been told to lay off her, though.

Winnie Embury is often mentioned in later books, but I think this is the only time we actually see her and hear her speak, isn't it?

Lovely to see Elisaveta again. A pity EBD killed off her husband, there doesn't seem to have been any reason for it. Veta is as brave as always, though. I suppose King Carol had assets in Switzerland and elsewhere that he was able to access when the Nazis invaded Belsornia and that's what they're all living on.

I don't know why Nina had to be the one to tell the Rutherfords about the Gornetz San. Wouldn't Alix's doctors know about it and tell them if they thought it was the best place for Alix to go?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Sep 2017, 17:53 
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Being a disappointment to Miss Annersley
Being a disappointment to Miss Annersley
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Joined: 23 Sep 2004, 21:57
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I find the Alix and TB sub-plot a bit unnecessary and added for no reason. Winnie and her husband being related to Nina is another theme that runs through the books at this stage e.g. Ruey/Laurie. I wonder why Nina has so much money? Wasn't her father cut off from the family wealth, her mother died young and though her father was composer would he have had much money if he spent so much on travel and teachers for Nina?


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