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 Post subject: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 00:40 
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This week’s discussion book is The Chalet School and Richenda, first published in 1958 and covering the winter term that follows Coming of Age. Richenda Fry, the fifteen year old daughter of ceramics expert Professor Fry, is sent to the Chalet School for reformation after she repeatedly disobeys his orders not to touch his valuable ceramics collection. Richenda resolves to get back at him by working hard and enjoying herself to the hilt at the school in order to negate the punishment as far as possible. Notable events:

Richenda, in direct defiance to her father’s orders, enters the Chinese Room which houses his ceramics collection and examines the valuable Khang-he vase he has lately acquired. Professor Fry comes in and catches her, and sends her to her room with the warning that he is going out and she will be properly punished when he returns.
Richenda spends a miserable afternoon wondering what her punishment will be, and is horrified to discover when the Professor returns that he has removed her from St Margaret’s House, the small school she has been attending, and is sending her to the Swiss branch of the CS, with the hope that a bigger school will teach her better obedience.
For the next three weeks Richenda lapses into the sulks, only coming out of them for the last evening when she is somewhat consoled by the news that her best friend from St Margaret’s, Sue Mason, will be joining her at the CS in two terms’ time.
The next day, Nanny, the Frys’ housekeeper, takes Richenda up to London to join the CS crowd at Victoria Station. Richenda finds herself sharing a compartment with Ros Lilley, Joan Baker, Betty Landon, Alicia Leonard, Eve Hurrell and the Dawbarn twins. Determined to loathe everything and everyone to do with her new school, she rebuffs all the efforts of the girls to include her in their chat, and eventually they give it up, which only makes her even more miserable. Mary-Lou comes round to warn everyone to be ready to disembark when the train arrives at Dover, and Richenda can’t help feeling attracted to her in spite of herself, much to her annoyance.
The journey is delayed on the way to Berne by a landslide on the railway, and so it is late by the time the girls arrive at the school. Richenda is taken in tow by Rosamund and Primrose Trevoase, and is shown to the Fifth form Splashery, then the common room, then the Speisesaal for Abendessen. When Rosamund asks if she is C of E or RC, Richenda hesitatingly replies C of E, and it is later explained that her father is a Quaker, although Richenda has attended both Quaker Meetings with her father and C of E services with Nanny.
The next morning, Richenda is caught up in the usual rush to get ready, and, being accustomed to stripping her bed and dusting her room at home, proves herself quite capable of keeping up with everyone else. Another new girl, Odette Mercier, is much slower and has to be helped out by Len in order to be ready in time for the bell.
At Prayers, Richenda is pleased to find that she has been put into Vb along with Rosamund, Len and Jo Scott, the three girls to whom she has taken the most liking so far, although she has no intention of ever being as friendly with them as she is with Sue Mason.
Jo takes the new girls of Vb along to the office to find out details about their timetables, and Miss Dene tells Richenda that she will be taking extra art, and will also have coaching in French and German.
By the end of the morning, having unpacked her trunk and got her new textbooks and stationery, Richenda has emerged from her sulks, and, remembering that being sent to the CS is supposed to be a punishment, decides to get back at her father by having as much fun as possible at the school instead.
Richenda writes a letter to Sue, describing her lessons and the mistresses, and reveals that Biddy O’Ryan, who is now Madame Courvoisier, has returned to teach history for the time being as Miss Annersley couldn’t find a satisfactory replacement for her. She also tells Sue that Len proposed they shorten her name to Ricki.
The next day after church, most girls settle down to read, and Richenda asks permission to go to the form room to finish her home letter to Nanny. When she gets there, however, she finds Odette Mercier sobbing. After trying and failing to comfort her, she fetches Mary-Lou, who also tries her best, but eventually she sends Richenda to fetch Matron.
Richenda joins the triplets for tea with Jo at Freudesheim, and Jo deduces from her dismissive tone when talking about her father that there is bad blood between them. When the girls depart back to school, she rings up Miss Annersley and gets the full tale from her, and also learns that Sue Mason will be coming to the school after Christmas, although neither she nor Richenda know that yet. Jo vows to resolve the situation between Richenda and her father if she possibly can.
Over the next few weeks, Richenda continues to take an interest in Odette, talking to her and walking with her where possible, but makes little headway in combating Odette’s homesickness, and the Staff remain worried about her. However, on a ramble to St Cecilie, Len and Richenda spot her walking alone and unaware that she is getting too close to the edge of the mountainside. They call her over, and Len’s fluency in French helps to bring Odette out of her shell a little. She and Len help Richenda with her French, and Len and Richenda in turn try to help her with her English. The mistresses in charge spot the group, and are pleased that Len seems to be succeeding where everyone else failed.
After picnicking at St Cecilie and buying milk from a local farm, the air suddenly grows very still and a storm approaches. The mistresses start the party off back to school at once, but the storm soon reaches them and they shelter in a barn until it passes over. When it does, they continue on along the road until they come to a stream which has burst its banks and become a torrent. Miss Wilmot and the biggest of the girls such as Joan Baker and Betty Landon help the smaller girls over the bridge across the rushing water, and shortly afterwards they are met by Jack Maynard and Phil Graves, who bundle them into their respective convertibles and drive them all back to school for hot baths, Matey’s patent nostrum and bed.
The staff discuss arrangements for half term, and Rosalie Dene informs them that she and the Head have been having a tussle with Professor Fry, who is insisting that Richenda is to stay at school and work over the holiday, with no treats. As all the staff will be away for the weekend, Jo has offered to have her at Freudesheim with the triplets, and he has been forced to give in on that point. We also learn that Biddy is definitely leaving at the end of this term as she is going to be ‘busy’ in May, and is hoping for twins.
The next day, Miss Annersley informs the triplets that they will be going home for half term instead of to the Valais with the rest of their form, and they are bitterly disappointed and ask why. The official reason given is that Jack has to go to England on San business for three weeks and Jo is going with him, but the real reason is that Jo has had pains and sickness on and off for some time, and is going to London to see Sir James Talbot for an overhaul. They want to see the triplets before they go as there is a possibility they will be away for longer than three weeks, although they don’t want the girls told anything yet.
Meanwhile, Richenda is told that she is going to Freudesheim for the weekend and is pleased, but a letter from her father, who is very hurt at the short stilted letters she has been sending him, puts her back in the sulks, as he tells her that he has instructed the mistresses to give her work to do for the holiday. It is only when Miss Ferrars notices her work sliding and tackles her about it that she learns she won’t be getting any work to do, regardless of what her father said.
Half term arrives and the triplets and Richenda go across to Freudesheim, where they find that Jo has had another attack of sickness and is in bed. Jack arrives home and allows them to look in on her for a few minutes, and she gives them each twenty five francs to spend in Interlaken that afternoon. Richenda, whose father has given her the minimum allowed for her pocket money and bank and so has little to spend for the holiday, is struck by Jo’s kindness and vows to repay her if she can.
The girls spend the afternoon in Interlaken, then the next day in Berne with the Courvoisiers, then on Sunday Jo, now up and about again, has Richenda to herself for a while and counsels her that there is fault on both sides in the row between her and her father, and that she can’t expect him to come round to her point of view if she doesn’t show an improvement in attitude. When Richenda reads out the latest stilted letter she intends to send him, she is so embarrassed she burns it and writes a better one, and Jo resolves to try and meet the Professor while she is in England and get him to see reason as well.
On the Monday, the girls get their trip to the Valais after all, as Jack and Jo take them on a tour in the car and show them the various sights. The next day, a letter arrives for Jack from Jem, asking that he and Jo come to England earlier than planned, and Jo informs the triplets that as a result she won’t be present for their birthday, much to their dismay. She admits that she is going to see Sir James Talbot, but assures them that neither she nor Jack thinks it is very serious.
Jo and Jack depart for England, and a letter soon arrives for the triplets with the news that Jo has displaced an organ slightly and will need an operation to correct it, but that she expects to be back home in four weeks’ time with no complications. The operation is to take place that weekend.
On the Friday, Matey holds a tooth inspection, and the next day the victims, which include Richenda, Len, Mary-Lou and Rosamund, head down to see Herr von Francius in Interlaken. As they sit in the waiting room, a spoilt small boy who is there with his mother makes some rude remarks about them, then walks around the room staring at each of them, before grabbing Rosamund’s pigtail and tugging it, causing Richenda to grab him and pull him off her. In a rage he pulls out a squirt filled with an ammoniac which he fires at Richenda’s eyes, causing her to scream in pain. Herr von Francius and Matron take her to the Augenklinik while the others wait behind with the mother and boy.
The Professor and Nanny are sent for and arrive in the early hours of the next morning, but it is not until that afternoon that the oculist is able to tell them that although she will have to wear glasses for the next few years, Richenda has not been blinded and should have completely recovered her sight by the time she is twenty or twenty one. Richenda and her father are reconciled at her bedside, and the Professor promises that she will have the Khang-he vase for herself for Christmas.
Richenda does not return to school for the rest of the term, as her nerves were shocked by the accident as well as her eyes, and so she, her father and Nanny go to Ticino for a few weeks, although they return to the school to see the Christmas play, and Richenda assures Joey, who has completely recovered from her operation and is back home, that everything should be all right now between her and her father.

So, thoughts on the character of Richenda? What about the conflict between her and her father, his method of punishing her, and her way of getting back at him? Thoughts on her accident? What about the subplots on Odette’s homesickness and Joey’s displaced organ?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 02:15 
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Joey's operation. This takes place at the beginning of November. She gives birth the next June to Phil and Geoff who were expected beginning July. Was she already pregnant at the time of the op?

If I remember rightly, it says in the book that Richenda's accident put their mother's operation nearly out of their minds. All I can say is funny girls. They had only known Richenda a couple of months, albeit they would have been caught up in the drama, but Joey was their mother.

As for Jack's lecture to the triplets about responsibility and Joey and lack of holidays. Yes, Joey had her bad times with her children but at other times she was quite mollycoddled. What, too, about her holiday in the rest home when the children were taken completely off her hands, her fortnight or so in bed after she arrived in Canada? In both cases not holidays but for her health but she was not worked to the bone.

Also, the triplets could help to some extent with their siblings but they were only children themselves. Let Joey and Jack get on with caring for the huge family they chose to have.

The book - ok. Richenda herself - ok.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 08:52 
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The storyline with "Junior" annoys me. Where did he get the ammonia from?! And why did he have to be American?

I quite like the set-up at the beginning, because I have sympathy for both parties. Richenda should not have been messing with valuable porcelain - that stuff can be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds - in her father's private rooms, when she'd been told not to. And he should have been more understanding. I think we're meant to sympathise with the disobedient child, though, which is unusual. And I like the fact that Sue later turns up at the school as well (in Ruey): I always find it odd that so few CS girls have friends from home at the same school.

Joan is a heroine in this book, helping the others across the flooded stream, and it always annoys me a) that she doesn't get proper recognition and b) that Richenda immediately takes against her because of her "cheap" prettiness.

Sorry, this is a random stream of thoughts! EBD seemed desperate to bring Len to the fore here, but ended up making Len seem like a very fickle person who changed her friends every five minutes! In the previous book, she'd been best mates with Ros. Now, suddenly, it's Ricki, and to some extent Odette. Then they both fade away, and it's Ros again, and Ted! It does happen a bit early on, when Jo is suddenly best friends with Elisaveta rather than her original friends, but Elisaveta leaves after one book so there isn't so much obvious chopping and changing. I feel sorry for Odette, and wish she and Con had become best friends.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 10:10 
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What does EBD mean when she writes 'cheap prettyness'?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 13:59 
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scrabble wrote:
What does EBD mean when she writes 'cheap prettyness'?


I always think makeup/blush etc. Not natural prettiness. But the CS is quite strict on that so...

Poor Joan.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 15:46 
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I quite like this one. The ceramics background is something a bit different. And as Alison says, for a change we're invited to see both points of view, and in the end Richenda and her father both shift their positions to meet somewhere in the middle - unlike for example Jessica Wayne's situation, where it's presented as being all her fault, and she's the one who's expected to make all the moves to repair the situation.

I think Jo was very kind in having Richenda for half term when she wasn't feeling well. She was under no obligation to do that, Richenda was a stranger, it's not as if she was the daughter of an old friend, whom Jo might want to help out.

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I feel sorry for Odette, and wish she and Con had become best friends.

Unless Odette had some significant character development, I don't know what Con would have got out of the friendship. I don't think we get any idea of Odette's interests or talents, do we?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 20:04 
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This one joins Does It Again in the 'meh' camp for me. Richenda as a character leaves me cold, and the book has practically every cliché in the series, but nothing really original to make it interesting: new girl with an axe to grind against a relative turns up at the school and is eventually shown the error of her ways by Jo; long description of the dormitory and daily routine; Mary-Lou's inexplicable aura of awesomeness; Len being conscientious while Con's dreaming and Margot's thoughtless; a Christmas play with an unrehearsed bit that reads very much like a you-had-to-be-there-to-get-it moment;and of course the ramble that gets interrupted by a thunderstorm and causes the party to shelter in a very convenient barn on the route, winding up with a doctor rescue in a Tardis outsize convertible. All that was missing was the doctor being unmarried and getting engaged to one of the mistresses!

Minor points:
Poor Joan Baker. Never allowed to forget her place no matter how hard EBD preaches about snobbishness.

That CS obsession with shortening names! Would it kill Len to pronounce one extra syllable? :roll:

Women were considered old maids if they were unmarried at 28 even by the 1950s? Thank God I wasn't born fifty years earlier, I'm 28 in January with no man in the offing, and an old maid is the last thing I feel like.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 23:00 
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I've liked this book ever since I first read it as a child, and would have liked to seen more of Richenda later in the series. I certainly preferred her to Ruey, for example, perhaps because her interests were nearer my own.

I agree with Aquabird that the shortening gets ridiculous - aren't there several CS girls called (for example) Margaret and even Elizabeth? 'Ricki' has always sounded silly to me anyway. If you must have a short form of the name, I think I prefer 'Chenda', as used by Elfrida Vipont (and yes, I know 'Chendy' is among the versions discarded here).

The Swiss books often seem to contain unexpectedly quirky/ unusual bits, and here we have Len saying she thought that Henry VII was probably responsible for the deaths of Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York. (Less seriously, there's the [quote] 'coast' road to St Cecilie, which always makes me smile).


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 31 Oct 2017, 23:47 
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Quote:
The Swiss books often seem to contain unexpectedly quirky/ unusual bits, and here we have Len saying she thought that Henry VII was probably responsible for the deaths of Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York.

Len (or EBD) had presumably been reading The Daughter of Time!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 00:47 
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I rather like Richenda, particularly her determination to sabotage her father's punishment by enjoying herself as much as possible. Professor Fry is another of those parents where you wonder what they were thinking. Richenda's behaviour is definitely a serious problem - she's old enough to know better, and she's broken a valuable artifact through deliberate disobedience. But maybe a lock on the door and a different punishment? Exiling her to Europe to boarding school, and making sure that her half-term is as miserable as possible, as punishment is not a very constructive approach (and expecting chatty letters out of it is pretty clueless).

Jack does have a blind spot when it comes to looking after Joey, which is very strong in the coming few books. His lecture to the triplets here, freaking out at Margot in Theodora (when Joey is having a difficult pregnancy and shouldn't be worried), freaking out at Mike in the following book (after Joey faints), poor Charles waking up crying from the pain of appendicitis and determined not to bother Mama (because Papa said so). And while parents definitely need breaks, it was Joey and Jack who decided to have an enormous family, not the triplets. On vacation in the Tyrol, Joey has Anna and Rosli doing all the heavy work, while she goes swimming, leads expeditions, adopts random people and has fun. And in term time, she has Anna and Rosli for the cooking and housework, a live-in mother's help for childcare and light mending, and the kids go off to boarding school somewhere between age 6 and 8. She doesn't even need to walk her own dog!

One minor point - there's a big discussion of how Richenda can't possibly stay at the school because there's no-one there to look after her. But surely, in a school of 200+, there would always be a couple of girls who were sick or had sprained ankles, or were under a Head's Report, and couldn't go on the expeditions? And therefore at least a matron or nurse on duty. So Richenda could have been added to that group (although I see why they wouldn't want to do that).

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 01:02 
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JayB wrote:
Quote:
here we have Len saying she thought that Henry VII was probably responsible for the deaths of Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York.

Len (or EBD) had presumably been reading The Daughter of Time!


Good old Len was a Richardian! Which means, I'm hoping, EBD was probably one too.

Audrey25 wrote:
As for Jack's lecture to the triplets about responsibility and Joey and lack of holidays. Yes, Joey had her bad times with her children but at other times she was quite mollycoddled.


I hate that lecture mainly because Jack does not consider the work Anna has to do and suggest the Trips help out more with the housework and cooking.

Surely it would help their mother and the family more if they gave Anna a hand? In the holidays, she has to cook, clean, wash up and do laundry for the 11 Maynards and various adoptees and visitors. It can go to 15+ people for dinner every night. And that's BEFORE she probably needs to prepare separate meals for the younger children and babies.

At no point during that lecture does Jack suggest the Triplets or the older boys help out with washing up or laundry. Poor Anna!

Alison H wrote:
The storyline with "Junior" annoys me. Where did he get the ammonia from?! And why did he have to be American?


Cos American children are not well behaved, don't you know? :roll:

Quote:
.... ended up making Len seem like a very fickle person who changed her friends every five minutes! In the previous book, she'd been best mates with Ros. Now, suddenly, it's Ricki, and to some extent Odette. Then they both fade away, and it's Ros again, and Ted!


Len is not overly fickle as the group of friends pretty much stays the same. When Sue arrives, Ricki ends up being a 'pair' with her, while Len is a triplet group with Ted and Ros. Only poor Odette gets left as a 'floater' and I think EBD had no idea where to take her character as she doesn't seem to have one.

Aquabird wrote:
Women were considered old maids if they were unmarried at 28 even by the 1950s? Thank God I wasn't born fifty years earlier, I'm 28 in January with no man in the offing, and an old maid is the last thing I feel like.


In Japan at 30, you are considered unmarriageable. There's a name for it which is very unflattering which basically translates to a stale cake.

Dior has just hired a 25yo model to be the face of its anti-aging cream. So 25 is now considered old! I am doomed :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 21:29 
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I like Richenda as a character. I like her full name more than Rikki. I think it's a decent book because of Richenda but as discussed above, many aspects get a bit out of hand like ML and Joey.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 21:55 
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I like Richenda as a character ; although she's around in later books she does get sidelined a bit, which is a pity. Once Sue turns up at school Richenda doesn't seem to be much with Len though in this book they are really friendly. It's one of the books I read at the right age - most of the Swiss ones I read as an adult, so it's easier to criticise them and pick holes in them. Agree with others about the spioilt American child storyline, could do without that, even though it's the means of Richenda and her father becoming reconciled.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 22:16 
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One other point - are all dentists called Herr von Francius, or has the original Herr von Francius moved from Innsbruck to Berne :lol:? And, if so, is it a coincidence, or has he deliberately followed the school because he's always had a secret passion for one of the mistresses?

That always makes me laugh!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 22:23 
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Why do they have to go to Berne to find a dentist? Surely they have dentists in Interlaken?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 22:27 
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Mel wrote:
Why do they have to go to Berne to find a dentist? Surely they have dentists in Interlaken?


Another reason to think it might be the same dentist they'd always been to :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 22:57 
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He is following Matey.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 01 Nov 2017, 23:05 
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janetbrown23 wrote:
He is following Matey.

:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2017, 16:18 
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EBD is trying to use new ideas in this book. The plot as a whole folows the 'new girl has family issues , comes to the CS, settles down and enjoys life, has an accident and reonciles with family' line, but the details are a bit different.

The ceramics issue is the only time something like this has come in the CS cannon (possibly the only time Chinese ceramics are a plot issue in the whole of GO literature).

(Now waiting for people to point out how many Chinese ceramic experts there are in GO!)

The storyline with the trip to the dentist and the accident to Richenda's eyes is new for the CS. Richenda does not fall off a mountain or have an accident involving snow, rain, wind or other forces of nature. Richenda is not treated at the San, and no mistress meets and marries a doctor as a result of the accident! That alone makes it unique in the CS. :wink:

So a combination of old and new, and trying out some new(ish) ideas, while devleloping the triplets and their friendship group. One has to wonder what actually sparked EBD's sudden interest in Chinese ceramics. :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School and Richenda
PostPosted: 02 Nov 2017, 16:29 
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Escorting the new girls to Freudesheim
Escorting the new girls to Freudesheim
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It's compulsory for the CS to have a dentist named von Francius.

What I really hate is all the dormitory routine being explained in each and every book.

It reaches the height of foolishness in 'Challenge', where Evelyn Ross, who has been living on the Platz, had been to the school to unpack on the day before the start of term, but her dormitory prefect takes her to her cubicle, and tells her where her dressing gown and towels are, and also tells her where her stockings and handkerchiefs have to go, even though a matron oversaw Evelyn's unpacking.

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A certain edge when she spoke of Mrs Maynard, certainly, but, after all, not everyone could love Joey.
'Life,' said Marvin, 'don't talk to me about life!'


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