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 Post subject: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 00:46 
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Indulging in a midnight feast
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This week, the discussion thread is on The Chalet School Reunion, the fiftieth book in the series and the final holiday book, covering the Easter holidays between Triplets and Jane. Grizel Cochrane writes to Jo with the news that she is returning from New Zealand after eight years, and Jo is determined to use her coming to hold a reunion for everyone she can contact who was at the Chalet School during its first year in Tyrol. Notable events:

The book opens in February, just after the freak blizzard that sweeps Switzerland and cuts off the Platz for a week (see Triplets for details). Jo invites Rosalie Dene to tea at Freudesheim, and announces that she has heard from Grizel Cochrane, who is leaving New Zealand to return to England, and will be stopping at Switzerland on the way. She is therefore taking the opportunity to host a house party during the Easter holidays for everyone who was at the school in its first year in Tyrol.
Rosalie reads Grizel’s letter to Jo, and deduces from the tone of it that Grizel is at the end of her tether. Grizel explains that that Deira, who had recently lost her daughter, has married a mutual friend of theirs, Tony Merton, and that she herself has to return to England to see to the will of her stepmother, who has just died. That being the case, they have sold their music business and she is setting sail shortly, hoping to arrive at the Platz in early April.
Grizel makes the journey by cargo boat from New Zealand to Lagos, and the only other passengers are a Dr Sheppard and his young friend Hamilton. Dr Sheppard stops to talk to her one day as she sits rereading Jo’s warm invitation to come to Freudesheim, and invites her to have dinner with him when she is back in England. Grizel, who has been feeling deeply depressed and unhappy over Deira’s marriage, is surprised and pleased at his persistence and glad of his company, but after he and Hamilton disembark at Cape Town, she sinks into depression again.
Grizel arrives at Freudesheim and is warmly greeted by Jo. As they have tea, Jo picks up on how Grizel’s laughter at her quips never reaches her eyes, and wonders what on earth is wrong with her. She reveals her plans for a house party, and says that among the guests will be Frieda, Marie, Simone, Evadne, Juliet and, as a special surprise, her sister-in-law Mollie, who is coming over to spend six months at Freudesheim.
The house party opens, and the guests arrive and spend the morning catching up before going over to the school to have Mittagessen. In the middle of it, Mollie MacKenzie arrives and causes a sensation, as most people haven’t seen her since she left to be married.
The next morning, the guests visit Hilary, who is nursing a teething Winkie, and Biddy, who has recently given birth to a second son, at Adlersnest. Biddy catches Grizel alone for a moment and tells her to come along to her if she finds the mob at Freudesheim too much, and Grizel thanks her for her kindness.
The party then walks along to the Auberge, where the echoes frighten Bruno so much that he flings himself at the fence and nearly causes it to collapse down the mountainside, and himself with it. Jo and the others catch him in time, but are badly shaken by the shock.
The next day, Con takes a party which includes Grizel, Rosalie, Miss Wilson, Stacie Benson, Wanda von Glück and Sophie Hamel up to Wahlstein. On the train, two men – Dr Sheppard and young Hamilton – are sitting nearby notice her, and when they all disembark at Wahlstein and Dr Sheppard spots Grizel, Con sees how he jerks in surprise and wonders at it.
The Chalet party stops at the Gasthaus for coffee, then climb up the path to view the glacier and hear the story of how Kathie Ferrars almost plummeted down into it when the ledge she was standing on broke away (see New Mistress). They spot the two men crossing the glacier, and Grizel recognises Dr Sheppard is pleased.
Sophie takes a group photo, and they are heading back along the path when there is a great crash behind them; it’s New Mistress 2.0 as the ledge they have just been standing on for the photo has broken away and fallen into the glacier below.
The next morning, Grizel wakes up at six o’clock and slips out for an early walk. As she passes by the school, she meets Mary-Lou, who has come up from Unter die Kiefern to tell Miss Annersley that her mother has passed away. When she tells Grizel that although she’s sad for her own sake, she’s glad that her mother’s suffering is over and that she intends to put a brave face on and rebuild her life, Grizel feels ashamed at how she has dealt with her own unhappiness thus far. She resolves to do as Mary-Lou intends to do, and to confide in Jo about her unhappiness once the reunion is over.
Later that day, Margot takes a party up to Lauterbrunnen, and on the way up to the Upper Fall in the lift, the electricity fails and it stops and plunges into darkness. A highly-strung German girl nearby starts screaming in fright, and Margot gives her a slap and tells her to stop being such a coward, especially next to a young schoolboy who hasn’t turned a hair over the proceedings. When they reach the top, Hilary Graves offers the girl’s aunt some tranquillisers to help calm her down.
The next day it rains, and so Jo entertains the guests with albums full of photos from the Tyrol days, followed by paper games, and then charades. That evening, Miss Annersely, who has escorted Mary-Lou, Verity and Doris’s coffin back to England, rings up to say that they have arrived at Carn Beg in safety, but that she is worried at Mary-Lou’s determined stiff upper lip attitude.
The following day is fine again, and the triplets take the groups off on more expeditions. Len takes a party including Grizel, Frieda, Marie, Simone, Stacie, Sophie, Cornelia and Evadne up to Wetterdorf, a shelf she, Jo and her sisters had discovered only the previous Christmas holidays. While on the bus which takes them part of the way, Len is startled when Grizel examines her arm for scars from the time she set her on fire (see Carola), and says she has no marks from it, and had actually forgotten all about it.
Once at Wetterdorf, the party spends the morning shopping and sightseeing in the village before having Mittagessen at the Gasthaus and then setting off along another long path to Bertental. Halfway along, they come to a stream which had been frozen in the winter, but is now rushing across the path with only stepping stones to cross it, much to the disgust of everyone. Corney falls in and is soaked up to the knees, and Stacie has to be revived with Marie’s Schnäppsen after crossing it because of the horrible memories it brings back.
The party continues on along the path towards Bertental, and are nearly there when Len treads on a loose piece of path and goes plummeting down towards another path which runs alongside it further down, getting caught in the branches of a tree sticking out of the mountain wall.
Grizel takes charge and sends Marie running to the Gasthaus at Bertental for help, while she borrows coat belts from Simone and Corney and climbs down to the lower path underneath the tree holding Len. She instructs Len to hang and drop from the tree so that she can catch her while secured to a rock with the belts, but the impact causes her to bang her back violently against the rock.
Marie meets Dr Sheppard and young Hamilton, and brings them to the scene. Simone is dispatched to Bertental to ring up the San, and the two doctors manage to climb down to the lower path, where Dr Sheppard at once recognises Grizel. He tends to her until Jack Maynard arrives with the San ambulance and Minne the minibus to take everyone back to the Platz. He drops the party off at Freudesheim, and later returns from the San to confirm that Grizel has cracked her spine.
Grizel’s recovery is slow thanks to the shock and the fact that she was already feeling run down before the accident, and Jack tells Jo that they are keeping her in the San until they are sure her spirits as well as her back are better. He also tells her that he has offered Dr Sheppard a job at the San, much to Jo’s joy, as she knows he intends to ask Grizel to marry him as soon as she is well enough. She has also invited Stacie to have a suite at Freudesheim, as she has felt much better since coming to Switzerland than she ever felt in Oxford.
Jo goes to visit Grizel, and Grizel asks after Len. Jo assures her she is recovering well, although in reality Len has been very badly shaken by the experience, and even Con has been spooked into sleepwalking again over it. Grizel also asks if Jo can bring Bruno to visit her, and Jo agrees to try and arrange it somehow.
Len goes to visit Grizel, and when Dr Sheppard escorts her along to her room, she spots the looks that pass between them and realises they have feelings for each other. She cheers Grizel up with her chatter, and Jack says they have done each other good.
Grizel soon begins to feel restless and bored, but is cheered up when Jo comes up with the idea of hiring a horse and cart to bring the entire Maynard family, plus Bruno and Hilary and her children, to sit beneath her open window for a visit. She is delighted to see everyone and asks for some of her mail, but is soon tired out and goes to sleep.
Jo and Mollie Mackenzie come to visit Grizel, and Jo confides in them that Reg is interested in Len and has asked Jack if he minds if he spoke to her in a year or two’s time. She says that for the moment they’re both too young but that she and Jack would be quite happy if they made a go of it later on.
By mid-June, Grizel is sitting up and starting to walk again. Jo and Mary-Lou come to visit with the news that Verity is now married. Jo also informs them that Primula Venables is engaged to a young solicitor, Nick Garden. As they are talking, Grizel notices that Mary-Lou is clearly bottling up her unhappiness at her mother’s death, and when both Jo and Mary-Lou entreat her to finish her recovery at Freudesheim, she agrees with the hope that she can help Mary-Lou somehow. As they are about to leave, Jo gives her a letter from New Zealand which turns out to be from Deira, with the news that she is going to have a baby. Grizel, now totally over Tony Merton, feels nothing but gladness for her, and Jo decides to tell Neil Sheppard that Grizel is finally ready for him.
Grizel finally leaves the San for Freudesheim and settles in, and soon notices that Mary-Lou seems much more like her old self. Jo tells her that she had got her to cry and let out her grief, and that ended it, for which Grizel is thankful, and Jo thinks to herself how much nicer she is now, as the old Grizel would never have noticed something like that.
While Grizel, Jo and Mary-Lou are having Kaffee in the rose garden, Dr Sheppard comes along, and Jo whisks Mary-Lou off to leave him alone with Grizel so that he can pop the question. Grizel accepts in delight, and the book closes with her wedding that September from Carn Beg, with Mary-Lou as one of the bridesmaids.

So, thoughts on this holiday book? What do you think of Jo’s idea for a reunion? Thoughts on the various trips and mishaps? What about Grizel, her depression, her accident and her relationship with Dr Sheppard?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 06:13 
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I'm a sucker for catching up with old characters, so I quite like that part of the book.

I do really feel for Grizel in this book. The business she has built has fallen apart because her business partner has lost interest, leaving Grizel to handle the work. The man she fancied got engaged to her friend. Her stepmother, who actively disliked her and went out of her way to make her life unpleasant, has died, and Grizel is stuck taking care of the paperwork left behind. She's depressed and at loose ends.

On the other hand, I want to smack Joey. Grizel writes that she's visiting, and makes it clear that she's tired and wants a quiet visit. And Joey plans a bustling reunion, a major feature of which is listening to old school friends talk about their husbands and children and homes - the things that Grizel desperately wants, but doesn't have.

The reunion itself makes me want to cringe, but I think that's a personality thing. I would go squirelly with the planned part of it - paper games, naps, splitting up into expeditions around the area led by the host's teenage daughters. If I were meeting with friends I hadn't seen in years, I'd be more interested in heading to the pub and catching up over a beer than playing games, and would be looking to hire the triplets as babysitters to watch the kids while we were there.

And of course, this is the book with the infamous 'Reg speaking to Jack' incident, which is so creepy. A 26 year old man staking his claim on a sheltered 16 year old girl, by talking to her father, and her mother gossiping about this with her friends when the daughter is oblivious to the whole thing and not even old enough to date.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 08:51 
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I love the idea of bringing back so many old friends - although it really does irk me that neither Madge nor Gisela are there - but the actual reunion sounds like a nightmare. Imagine turning up to a house party with old friends, expecting to drink wine, eat cake and reminisce, only for people to start making rude remarks about everyone else's weight and then to be divided into teams and sent off to climb mountains! No wender Hilary was carrying tranquillisers in her handbag :roll: :roll: .

I like the friendship that develops between Grizel and Mary-Lou, and am sorry that it's never mentioned again. I also feel for Grizel in this book, and, although it's a huge cliché that she marries a nice doctor and lives happily ever after, I'm glad that she gets her happy ending. So many CS girls seem to have fairly straightforward lives in which everything works out, and, in real life, there are a lot of us for whom that doesn't happen, and Grizel's story is very realistic. Depression isn't often tackled in books meant for children, and it's a brave storyline. I'm not sure that having all those people around is what you need when you're feeling so bad, but Joey meant it very kindly. I do so wish that Madge and Gisela had been there, though!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 09:21 
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jennifer wrote:
On the other hand, I want to smack Joey. Grizel writes that she's visiting, and makes it clear that she's tired and wants a quiet visit. And Joey plans a bustling reunion, a major feature of which is listening to old school friends talk about their husbands and children and homes - the things that Grizel desperately wants, but doesn't have.


How about informing her old friends that Grizel is visiting Freudesheim and if she is up to it after she arrives, I'll drop you a line and we can arrange to meet up. Fair better than having 10-12 women descending on her en masse.

This is also where Joey tactlessly asks Rosalie why she never married and if there was ever anyone special.

I realise they are old friends and there are things you say to old friends that less close friends would be offended by, but still ... I never married and still wince when asked that question, when even close relatives ask me "so what went wrong with XXX?"

I would have loved Rosalie to reply she had been carrying on a hot and heavy affair with Jack :-)

Quote:
I would go squirelly with the planned part of it - paper games, naps, splitting up into expeditions around the area led by the host's teenage daughters.


The games and naps are a bit much and I would have simply opted out. It's different when you go to GO-type gatherings and quizzes are part of the event and you expect that beforehand. But to be told during a casual visit to someone's house "we are going to play charades!" is way too much.

And I know Joey planning everything so meticulously is EBD showing her as being the model hostess. But surely a good hostess also asks her guests "This is what I have planned, but please feel free to do your own thing if you prefer."

Have some good tour maps, transport info, restaurant info etc on hand just in case your guests would like to travel around on their own and don't force hikes and trips on them if they don't want to.

Who knows? Maybe some of them would have preferred a trip to the casino in Interlaken that Joey is so down on!

And the hike Len takes her party on is nuts. It goes up hill and down dale and over a flooded stream for an entire day. And for such a thoughtful girl, she just assumes they will be fine with that. Does she bother to ask the ladies beforehand if they are OK with that kind of hike? Even before she fell off the cliff, it was obvious the walk was exhausting some of her party.

Quote:
And of course, this is the book with the infamous 'Reg speaking to Jack' incident, which is so creepy. A 26 year old man staking his claim on a sheltered 16 year old girl, by talking to her father, and her mother gossiping about this with her friends when the daughter is oblivious to the whole thing and not even old enough to date.


As well as no opportunity to date - when and where would Len meet boys her own age that she's not related to? I always wanted her to visit Rosamund in the holidays and fall for Ros's older brother!

Joey at least is a tad more realistic in this conversation. She does at least recognise Len needs to grow up a bit (finish school at least) AND meet more people before deciding.

One part which always confused me in Reunion is how does Neil Shepard even get to the Platz and why doesn't he get in touch with Grizel?

The last we saw him, he was on the boat making complicated arrangements to stay in touch with Grizel, and even though he and his hiking partner end up in EXACTLY the same place as her and he sees her, he makes no effort to contact her.

Quote:
... At that moment Stacie Benson turned to Grizel to demand, “How do these compare with your New Zealand Alps, Grizel?”
Her clear, incisive voice carried on the thin air and the elder man (Neil) checked and glanced across at them. Then he went on, but Con had seen it ...


There's no earthly reason why he shouldn't go over to the party and introduce himself as a Grizel's friend. Shy?

And we are told Grizel had not noticed the two men but ...

Quote:
Just here, it swung round in a wide curve and some distance beyond them they could see two figures crossing the ice with careful movements, though they were too far off to be recognized clearly. Stacie, however, had noted the climbers when they left the train.
“Why,” she cried, “those must be the two men who were on the train with us.
...
No one was looking at Grizel at the moment or her face might have given her away. She could guess who the pair were and, in spite of herself, a sudden feeling of happiness was lighting up her eyes and touching her face with extra colour...


This part is even weirder.

How on earthly could Grizel have guessed it was Neil? He never mentioned to her that he was going to be in Switzerland (hence the complicated stay in touch arrangements).

And surely if he had said to her "oh, I might be in the Platz sometime soon", sheer politeness would have caused her to ask him to contact her?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 10:29 
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I think the reunion schedule is trying to reproduce the feel of a half-term at school (I can't remember - was there a fancy dress competition as well?). The problem is that as adults there tend to be people who would absolutely love this (like Joey), but also ones who would think it was a terrible idea. Not to mention, as someone pointed out, that these aren't hearty schoolgirls anymore - most of them on the order of forty and have had multiple children.

They split the groups up as well - it would be frustrated to have the people you most wanted to see be dumped into a different expedition group.

Everyone in the reunion except for Grizel is either happily married with a batch of kids, or is single and has a family they're on good terms with and an occupation they enjoy and are valued in, or is happily employed as a long-term mistress at the school. Grizel has no family, a broken heart, and a job that fell apart, and when she was a mistress at the school, she was unhappy and unpopular. She's got to notice this discrepancy.

Personally, if I were at the reunion, I'd want to sneak off to the pub with Eustacia, Grizel and Rosalie.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 12:30 
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Frankly, I would be surprised if very many modern adult readers found the programme of reunion events in this book appealing. But then we're not the original audience, are we?

I also understand what prompts suggestions that the casino might have been more to their tastes, or that Rosalie might have had an affair with Jack, but I'm supposing that that's satire... :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 13:38 
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I wouldn't really expect EBD to send them all off down the pub :lol:, but surely Kaffee und Kuchen, any old photos anyone'd dug up, or maybe a nice gentle walk round Interlaken would have been more like it. It's a school reunion, not one of those Krypton Factor type "office bonding" sessions that used to be popular at one time!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 15:27 
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Noreen wrote:
Frankly, I would be surprised if very many modern adult readers found the programme of reunion events in this book appealing.

Actually this one would. I can't think of anything I would like less than just sitting around chatting with people I may not know very well. I avoid school reunions for just this reason unless I go with a friend or two.

I think Jennifer is right and Joey is trying to reproduce what it felt like to be at the CS. And I think, given that these are all old CS girls, most of them will have been more than up for it.

Since when can't forty year olds climb up mountains?

I do agree though, that it is unfortunate for Grizel, given her state of mind at that moment. However, in some ways it may have helped to take her mind off things.

I am quite fond of this book....

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 15:34 
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This is one of my favourite books in the series. I've always liked moody, complex Grizel and it's lovely to see her finally get her reward, cliched as it is. Her running into the sunshine at the end is a beautiful metaphor for her life -- from darkness to light, from a life alone to hand-in-hand with someone who finally will put her first. I also picture EBD breathing a sigh of relief now that one of her most difficult characters is settled.

I also like Grizel's relationship with Neil. It's not that long, and the doctor/patient element is a bit dodgy, but at least you see them getting to know each other in different environments. Plus, they aren't kids anymore. They've lived enough to know what they want for their futures and out of a spouse. His proposal doesn't impress me much, nor does his "silencing" her, but that's EBD romance for you. I like that we get updates on her life in later books -- the birth of her son, decorating her chalet. I like to think the Sheppards got a dog since Grizel is so fond of Bruno.

I'm another one who would not have enjoyed the reunion itself. It feels too much like pretending to be Chalet School girls again, and all the rituals that accompany that, which wouldn't suit me. As a very introverted person, I'd need a good chunk of time alone to recharge after all that socialization -- and as someone who has gained weight since school, like most people, I don't need commentary on that! A tour of the school and some optional bus trips and hikes would have sufficed. I do like the rainy day where they look at old photos and lounge about, and charades/paper games is essentially like playing board games, which I think is fun to do.

As a reader, however, I enjoy the escapades. Lots of typical EBD drama -- falling off cliffs, power failures while you're dangling in the sky, crumbling ledges, death of loved ones. Good stuff.

There are some other peculiar moments in this book, too. Why does Grizel offer to outfit Primula's kitchen? They can't know each other that well. And the part where Grizel is evaluating Len's beauty and decides that although Margot has "showier" looks, she wouldn't trust her as far as she could see her is a bit harsh. It's odd that Juliet doesn't get more screen time -- she's an early pupil, former head girl, Joey's adopted sister and once upon a time was Grizel's close friend and partner in crime. I'm not sure why EBD pushed her to the background.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 16:16 
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TBH, I've always found this book to be a typical "Jo Overdoes It Again" narrative.

If people don't want to go walking in the mountains, then they're entitled to sit around gossiping if they want to.

Speaking for myself, I'd have got up early and bunked off to the Auberge, even if I was reduced to yelling or screaming at the echo.

That said, I'm very glad that Grizel finally got a chance of happiness, especially since the man she marries has been pursuing her from the moment he clapped eyes on her.

So why did EBD not let Grizel have any happiness before in the series? I think it's because EBD really couldn't control Grizel's character, so gave her a lot of unhappiness as a sort of payback.

I also hate the idea that physical suffering leads to character redemption. I don't think it does, not really. I've known people who have been seriously ill, suffering a lot of pain in the process, and their characters haven't improved one little bit; they've deeply resented it, and let the world know all about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 16:20 
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My only gripe about reunion, really, is that there were so many people not there or not mentioned! I'd have liked a long list of updates...
I think the women who came to Joey's houseparty were just the ones who would have relished the back-at-school atmosphere, that doesn't bother me at all. I love that Grizel found happiness, though I'm uncomfortable with Jack's telling her that her injuries still needed rest when actually he thought it was her mind that needed it - but I think that 'Doctor as God' was the norm back then.
Not sure about being thrilled over a bedjacket, either!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 16:46 
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Jennie wrote:
So why did EBD not let Grizel have any happiness before in the series? I think it's because EBD really couldn't control Grizel's character, so gave her a lot of unhappiness as a sort of payback.


I think Grizel is one of those characters who got away from the author and did her own thing. There's the theory that Jo is the person EBD wanted to be, but Grizel is the person she was, in which case EBD may have unconsciously been pouring her own misery into the character and that's how she turned out.

LucyP wrote:
Not sure about being thrilled over a bedjacket, either!


But it's so dainty! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 20:55 
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What really struck me about this book is how little news we actually hear from those Old Girls who did turn up; in most cases we don't even get a list of how many kids they have now! The only real piece of news we get is Corney's item on Yseult shedding her picturesqueness and getting married. It would have been nice to have e.g. Marie and Wanda talking about what may have happened to Paula and Irma von Rothenfels or Thekla, all of whom were cousins of theirs, or Frieda giving an update on what Gisela and Gottfried are doing these days, but we get nothing like that. Instead we get a flurry of expeditions to places we've already seen, every single one of which involves a hair-raising experience (Bruno at the Auberge, Glaciergate 2.0, the broken lift, Len and Grizel's escapade) and all of which take place within the space of a week. :roll: Coming right off the back of Triplets with its chain of escapades, I'm amazed Jo and Jack let the triplets out of their sight!

I do like the Grizel story in this, though, and Neil is adorable (even if his proposal is second only to Reg's on the cringe scale). I like how even though he was determined to win her love, he knew she wasn't ready for him until she'd got over her disappointment re. Tony, and held off saying anything until then. Him conveniently turning up in Switzerland as a pure coincidence just in time to play the hero is stretching things a bit, though. EBD could have at least had Grizel say; 'I'm staying with a friend at the Platz for X number of weeks, look me up if you're in the area' and it would have been plausible, especially as it's already been made clear he's very keen on her, but no, he just turns up out of the blue, and, as Joyce says, Grizel miraculously recognises him from halfway across a glacier! :lol:

A lot of the San stuff in the latter half of the book screamed 'Filler!' to me, but I liked Grizel's friendships with Len and Mary-Lou, how Grizel feels that by saving Len she's atoned for the fire incident in Carola, and how she and Mary-Lou help each other through their sadness. And it's nice to know that Primula has found happiness and is setting up a home for herself, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 21:09 
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I think Mary-Lou's storyline is very positive. I'm not sure where Clem and Tony, whom I'm sure would have been there for, had got to, but she was also at a very low ebb, feeling alone in the world after Doris's death. EBD could have had her being rescued by a doctor and settling down to life on the Platz, and forgetting the whole idea of being an archaeologist (although I'm not sure the Platz was big enough for both Joey and Mary-Lou!). Instead, she sends her back to university, to get on with her life.

There is sometimes this idea that life in GO books is all pink and fluffy and everyone lives happily ever after, but pretty much everyone who comes to the reunion has known difficult times. And Deira's another one who's had it very tough.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 21:31 
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This seems to be two storylines shoved together. The Grizel parts, especially the description of her state of mind on her journey, are as good as anything EBD ever wrote, I think. Makes me wonder what she might have produced if she'd tried another adult novel when she was a more mature writer.

Then there's the micro-managed reunion. A lot of the people there, and especially the Austrians, would have been in frequent contact with each other anyway, so it's not really a reunion for them. And it's not, as Jo initially said, a reunion of the people who were there the first year in Austria. A lot of those present weren't there then, and some important characters who were, such as Margia and Amy, are missing.

I suppose those who were there knew Jo well, and thus knew what they were likely to be letting themselves in for.

It was nice to see Maynie again, and a nice piece of continuity when EBD remembered that people used to call Hilda 'Nan' in her early days at the school.

I like the suggestion of a friendship between Grizel and ML, and I'm sorry they didn't have their motor tour. But I think ML greeting her as 'Cocky' was over-familiar even by Mary Lou's standards. No-one called Grizel that when she was at school, and ML can hardly have known her; they only overlapped at school by a little over a year when ML was a junior, and ML didn't take music; their paths would hardly have crossed.

Same for Grizel wanting to buy Verity a wedding present, when her chief memory of Verity, if not her only memory, will have been her refusing to sing German carols.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 22:04 
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Alison H wrote:
There is sometimes this idea that life in GO books is all pink and fluffy and everyone lives happily ever after, but pretty much everyone who comes to the reunion has known difficult times. And Deira's another one who's had it very tough.


Deira must have a heck of a story to tell. Last we see her, she's about to be presented at court, or something, I think. Then she's a widow in New Zealand running a music business (even though she didn't seem especially musical) with a former husband who muddled away money and a daughter with disabilities and health problems. That sounds like a book by itself.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 23 Jan 2018, 23:49 
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JayB wrote:
A lot of those present weren't there then, and some important characters who were, such as Margia and Amy, are missing.


Yes, they were among the first pupils in the first term so slightly disappointed to see them missing out. And why invite Corney and Evadne and not their best friend Margia?

Quote:
I suppose those who were there knew Jo well, and thus knew what they were likely to be letting themselves in for.


Fair enough. And you could always decline if you felt a 'Joey week' would be too much. And some clearly do!

But the problem arises if you want to attend to just chat and catch up with old friends then find yourself being dragged into games and trips.

And yes, EBD makes the point herself that the rainy day events were designed to bring back memories of school. So clearly she felt that school days especially at the CS should be remembered fondly. But some of us were not that lucky.

Aquabird wrote:
What really struck me about this book is how little news we actually hear from those Old Girls who did turn up; in most cases we don't even get a list of how many kids they have now!


I tracked down the book for that very reason and then nothing. :( And I would have liked a catch up between Grizel and Juliet who was her close friend and colleague. But we barely hear Juliet speak.

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Since when can't forty year olds climb up mountains?


Not saying they can't :D

I'm saying Len should have warned her group beforehand about how lengthy the walk will be so they can dress appropriately, wear the right shoes etc. Cornelia wears an expensive well cut skirt! As a child, for some reason, I had visions of her wearing a tight pencil skirt.

I guess as an active 16yo so she is perfectly OK with that walk and back again and she's excited to show them the view, and that's fine.

But she knew part of the walk would require using stepping stones over a stream, which she blithely jumps over. Despite this, she doesn't stop to think that Stacie especially might hate walking over a flooded stream. Even though the story of what happened to Stacie has been told ad nauseum to her since childhood.

Quote:
I do agree though, that it is unfortunate for Grizel, given her state of mind at that moment. However, in some ways it may have helped to take her mind off things.


That's an interesting point, especially as we now know so much more about depression and its affects.

I know several people including close relatives who suffer from depression, and I suppose it could go either way. My brother needs therapy and medication and to be left alone. But his is chronic and he spirals very easily.

Whereas Grizel's depression seems to be caused by events and circumstances, and EBD shows her gradually being jolted out of it by seeing her old friends and just getting out and about. So yes, it could have helped. But hearing how everyone's else's lives are so fulfilling and happy could also have caused her to sink even further.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2018, 09:25 
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I'm over 40, and my capacity for energetic mountain walks is not what it was 20 years ago. :D At the very least, I'll want an estimate of just how vigorous it will be (are we talking 8 hours up and down rocky hills, which I'll turn down unless I've had a chance to work up to it, or a couple hour stroll, which I'd happily go along with). And I'll want enough warning so I can wear the right clothing, and tape up my dodgy ankle so I don't sprain it again. Although in practice, I'm not good with heights and drop-offs, so I'd probably back out of a group hike so that we don't get half way up the mountain and have me unable to go any farther, or not be able to get down.

For events like this it helps to have some flexibility. Have a few times where everyone gets together for dinner or a reception. Have some outings or activities that are available, but not mandatory. And have unscheduled time for people to arrange things as they want.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 24 Jan 2018, 10:10 
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I'd quite like to have seen some more interaction between Mollie Maynard and the others. As far as we know, Mollie hasn't seen Jack since she emigrated to New Zealand over 20 years earlier, and has never met her nieces and nephews. Mollie's main role in the book is for everyone to comment on her weight, and Jack to find a miracle cure for her glandular problems which apparently no doctor in New Zealand had thought of :roll: .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: The Chalet School Reunion
PostPosted: 25 Jan 2018, 02:25 
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I rather like this book and it is one of my favourites of the later ones. As it was the 50th book there was quite a fuss when it was published. EBD was interviewed on TV and she tried to organise an Austrian holiday for readers prepared to pay but not enough took up the offer to make it viable. She did sign autographs in a couple of locations though and the publishers held an 'at home' for her to which readers paid for their tickets.

About 14 or 15 years ago my then 9 or 10 year old daughter and I went to the local bookshop where Jacqueline Wilson was signing autographs. We ended up queuing for nearly 4 hours. It was worth it though as Jacqueline Wilson was charming. We got to speak to her for a couple of minutes because she took a break every now and then to get up and stretch and we were with her when she was doing this.

To go back to Reunion I always think it interesting that the two people who might have attracted more attention than Joey, Madge and Gisela, were not there. I am convinced this was why Madge was sent to Australia. EBD was also quite selective too in who else was invited.

I would not have been happy as part of a group being lugged round by a triplet. It might have been better if Rosalie and some of the other Swiss based people had led the groups.

I always thought too that Joey must surely have approved all the routes chosen by the triplets as she did arrange the payment of all the restaurant bills.

I am not a great Biddy fan but she was really thoughtful to Grizel in this book. I suppose, too, Joey did mean well in arranging the whole thing.

I don't understand Reg 'speaking' to Jack about Len. They had never been on a date and I hardly think Len would have been allowed to go on a date until she had left school. What was there to 'speak' about? Reg should have been told where to get off by Jack but it obviously did not end up that way. Was Reg scared that Jack would not consider him good enough for Len? If Jack had said a very definite no" would Reg have been prepared to try and forget her before he got in deeper?


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