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 Post subject: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 13 Feb 2018, 00:17 
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This week’s feature book is Adrienne and the Chalet School, first published in 1965 and covering the Easter term following Redheads. Fifteen year old Adrienne Desmoines, plunged into desperate circumstances following the sudden death of her artist father, is rescued by the nuns of La Sagesse, amongst them Robin Humphries, who entreats Jo to enter Adrienne at the Chalet School on the Josephine Bettany Scholarship. Notable events:

The book opens at the La Sagesse convent in Arles, where Souer Cécile, formerly Robin Humphries, is on loan from the Toronto convent. The Reverend Mother sends for her and tells her that she is dispatching her and another nun, Soeur Monique, to bring fifteen year old Adrienne Desmoines to the convent.
Adrienne, daughter of an artist, has been left orphaned and penniless following her father’s sudden death from a heart attack. They have been living in an appartement in a seedy area, but Adrienne knows that she can only remain there for another three weeks before she has to start finding some means of paying the rent, and is desperately trying to think of what job she could take with her limited education. Père Soulanger, the parish priest who had conducted her father’s funeral, had promised to help her, and he contacts the nuns forthwith.
The two nuns arrive at the appartement and introduce themselves to Adrienne, who is immensely relieved to see them and be told she will be leaving the appartement and the disreputable concierge for the convent. They pack up her belongings, and the concierge bursts in and threatens to take Adrienne to the Mairie for leaving without notice. Robin defends Adrienne and sends the concierge packing, and they depart.
Once reaching the safety of the convent, Adrienne succumbs to a combination of the strain and malnourishment from skimping on meals to make ends meet with her father, and is ill for the entire summer and autumn. By the time she is well again, Christmas is over and Robin is due to return to the convent at Toronto. She writes to Jo and asks her to give Adrienne her scholarship for the CS, give her a home at Freudesheim, and to use the money she left with Jack when she entered the convent to buy Adrienne her uniform and other items for the school.
The first day of term arrives, and Robin brings Adrienne to Paris to meet the escort there, handing her over to Ailie Russell to sheepdog. Ailie and her friends Judy, Janice, Tessa de Bersac, Thyra Jesperson, Solange de Chaumontel and Anne Lambert welcome Adrienne into their midst for the journey and tell her about the school, the sports and Jo Maynard.
Adrienne finds herself placed in Inter V with Ailie and Co., and resolves to work to the top of her bent to repay Jo for her kindness in offering her the scholarship. While on her way back to an art class after a brief interview with Miss Dene about her timetable, she runs into Jo herself and is delighted by her.
After six weeks, Adrienne has slogged enough at her lessons and learning German to the point that she is bracketed first in the form with Janet Henderson, who has been top for the past term and a half and fiercely resents Adrienne drawing level with her. She begins to obsess over it and make cutting remarks to and about Adrienne, drawing the attention of Ailie, Judy and Janice, who resolve to keep an eye on the situation.
After a long stretch of bad weather which keeps the girls indoors, the snow finally hardens enough for them to go skiing. Ailie, Judy and Janice take Adrienne to the meadow to instruct her, and soon find that she has enough natural ability to have made good progress by the end of the session, although she is very stiff and sore.
Half-term arrives, and with it a blizzard. The staff keep everyone busy on the first day with Sale work, games, a quiet afternoon, and then a treasure hunt to finish with, at which Prudence Dawbarn, the last person left hunting, manages to soak herself from head to foot when she stands on the edge of a bath to grab a parcel on top of the shower, loses her balance and grabs at the shower cord.
The next day, Jo invites the Senior school to a sheets-and-pillowcases party at Freudesheim that evening, and the girls spend the morning baking cakes to bring before setting to work on their costumes. Adrienne dresses as The White Cat, and when Jo greets her, she is breathless with surprise for a moment.
On the Sunday, Jo invites Adrienne to English tea and has a long chat with her, asking her about school and how she is settling in, and about Robin. When she asks Adrienne if she looks like her mother, Adrienne shows her a locket which contains portraits of her parents, but which she has never worked out how to open. Jo promises to take it to a jeweller’s in Geneva to see if they can work out how to open it. Later, when tea arrives, Adrienne is surprised and delighted when Phil takes a shine to her and insists on sitting on her knee.
Adrienne writes to Robin and tells her about school and her friends, and also that Ailie has gone to Australia for Sybil’s wedding and will be gone for the rest of the term and the Easter holidays. She also mentions Janet Henderson’s dislike of her, and asks for advice on what to do about it.
Robin writes back and tells Adrienne to keep up her hard work and certainly not start slacking just to please Janet, but to be as pleasant as possible to her even when she is baiting her, and to pray for her.
Janet writes to her cousin Kate in Edinburgh complaining about Adrienne, stating her certainty that Adrienne must be cheating to have got so high in the form as to be level with her, that she has lied about knowing no German as she has picked it up so quickly, and that she is sneaking books up to her dormitory to swot early in the mornings, although she concedes that she has yet to actually catch Adrienne doing any of these things. Kate writes a short reply back telling her to snap out of it.
Jo writes to Robin, telling her how thankful she is that the nuns got Adrienne away from her appartement, which Simone informed her was raided shortly after the New Year with several of the inhabitants, including the concierge, now in prison awaiting trial for robbery, violence and murder. She also asks Robin to try and find out what she can about Adrienne’s mother, as she and everyone else at the school are convinced that her mannerisms and walk resembles someone they know, although they can’t place who. She finally reveals that the Rosomons have got a chalet on the Platz and are relocating there from Ste Cecilie.
Robin writes back to say that the Reverend Mother has already made what enquiries she can about Adrienne’s parents, but beyond learning that they married against the wishes of their parents and cut off contact with them as a result, nothing has come back.
Jo’s reply confirms that the Rosomons are now settled in their chalet on the Platz, and also that Phil is not well.
It transpires that Phil’s illness is mastoid trouble, and the sharpness of the attack has resulted in an emergency operation in which it was touch and go for a day or so whether she would pull through. However, she soon begins to pull up.
The Head, who has noticed that Janet has been going about with a black scowl for most of the term and has so far been unsuccessful in finding out why, sends her over to Freudesheim with a message as a pretext to see if Joey can get to the bottom of the trouble. Jo, full of thankfulness over Phil, agrees to do her best.
When Janet arrives at Freudesheim, she is amazed to find that Mary-Lou has popped in for a visit, and chats amiably to her. Adrienne arrives in the middle of things with a parcel for Jo, and a chance remark of Mary-Lou’s makes Janet feel uncomfortable about her behaviour towards Adrienne, and she wonders how much Mary-Lou might know about it. After the two girls depart back to school, Mary-Lou tells Jo cryptically that she believes she has figured out whom Adrienne resembles, but refuses to say anything more for the present.
Inter V take their turn at hosting Saturday Evening, and decide to do tableaux based on Major Catastrophes. While portraying ‘The Burning of Moscow’, some of the scenery catches fire from a dodgy light and Janet’s dress catches fire. Adrienne keeps her head, knocks her to the floor and rolls her over to put the flames out while the staff and prefects put the other flames out. When Reg Entwistle arrives to tend to the injuries, Len realises as he bandages up her fingers that her future is settled once she has finished her education.
Janet and Adrienne remain in the San for some days as a result of their burns, and Adrienne’s hair has had to be cropped as she lost clumps of it to the fire. Mary-Lou takes her out for a convalescent walk, and when the wind blows Adrienne’s beret off for a moment she exclaims in amazement and bewails that Jo is at the San visiting Phil. However, Jo passes them in her runabout shortly afterwards, and realises that the person Adrienne resembles is Robin.
Adrienne is so tired out from the excitement of the discovery that she is sent back to bed when she returns to the school, and Miss Annersley visits Janet, who shame-facedly confesses about her behaviour towards Adrienne that term. After a serious talk, Janet feels much happier, but the apology she prepares for Adrienne when the latter visits her later that day is never said as she is too stunned at Adrienne’s short hair.
The rest of the term passes by quietly, apart from Matey getting locked in a bathroom late one night and spending well over an hour stuck in it until Nancy Wilmot hears her and rescues her. Three days before the end of term, Dick Bettany, to whom Jo had written asking for information about Ted Humphries and his wife, writes back with the news that he has found an old letter from Ted explaining that his uncle was Charles Desmoines, Adrienne’s paternal grandfather, making her a second cousin to Robin. The book ends with Miss Annersley, who is booked to go to Canada, offering to take Adrienne with her so that she can meet and get to know Robin as her cousin.

So, thoughts on the book and its main protagonist? What do you think of Adrienne's rescue by the nuns and her relationship to Robin? Thoughts on her friendship with Ailie and Co., and the jealousy of Janet? What about the half-term events and the fire?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 13 Feb 2018, 01:17 
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The beginning is a bit lurid - after the murderous kidnappers in the previous book, we get the villainous landlady who is presumably going to force Adrienne into a life of prostitution and petty crime.

It's nice to see Robin again, however briefly, but totally baffling that the family hasn't bothered to go see her in three years. I can understand not making it over to Canada, but they manage lakeside holidays in Austria and trips back to England, so you think that Joey at least would visit France. It's also nice to have Ailie Russell and Co featured - I find their year much more interesting that Jack's. The major catastrophe tableaux is amusing, but Len gazing into Reg's eyes and realizing her destiny is pretty gag inducing.

It's another complicated tale of genealogy, which quite frankly doesn't make much sense. There's an initial red herring about Robin's mother, and a locket that's forgotten, then it turns out that they are related through their fathers, even though Robin strongly resembles her mother, and Adrienne and Robin resemble each other. And Mary-Lou discovers it, even though she wouldn't have known Robin well at all. She meets the Maynards in Three Go. Robin is in London at that point doing settlement work, then in Switzerland for ten months recovering from settlement work, then in Canada with the Maynards. Mary-Lou would maybe have met her once or twice when Robin was visiting from London, and maybe seen her a bit in between the school breaking up in Changes, and Robin moving back to Canada, when she was tying up her affairs and saying goodbye to her pre-nun life.

I also don't understand how Robin has money she can devote to Adrienne's care - that's not how being a nun works, is it? Taking a vow of poverty, but keeping assets out in the world that you can use when you need?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 13 Feb 2018, 08:51 
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I also find it very odd that no-one's been to see Robin. I also find it sad that none of the Maynards go to Sybil's wedding: I understand that the triplets had exams coming up, but did EBD have to say that Phil had had a relapse so that Joey couldn't go?

Ailie's gang are great in this, and I really wish that they'd got more screen time and Jack's gang less. The conversation they have about boyfriends, and how they'd rather be playing tennis and having fun with their friends for now, is so much more normal than Mary-Lou blushing like a Victorian maiden aunt at the very mention of the word "boys".

The beginning is indeed lurid, and the end is silly. We've always been told that Robin is the image of her mum, so how come she suddenly looks just like a long-lost cousin on her dad's side? And the long-lost cousin storyline's used too often in the later books - the Richardsons and Laurie, Melanie and Jeanne, the two Sams, and Adrienne and Robin.

Adrienne is a nice girl, though, and it's good to have someone who doesn't have English as a first language as the heroine for once, and to have some sort of focus on actual schoolwork and people battling to be top of the class.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 13 Feb 2018, 16:34 
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I love the beginning of this with Rob standing up to the villainous concierge. But then, I always loved Robin even when she was an Engelkind!
I also like the school bits of the story, Adrienne is a lovely character and I do like her friendship group - and Janet's jealousy is well done too.
The less said about the distant relationship and the explanations thereof, the better!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Feb 2018, 02:01 
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I love the fact that Joey (EBD) admits the storyline is OTT. Do you think she was poking fun at herself?

Alison H wrote:
We've always been told that Robin is the image of her mum, so how come she suddenly looks just like a long-lost cousin on her dad's side?


It just might be possible. My cousin's little girl resembles her father but my dad (whose on the mother's side) can also see a resemblance to me when I was younger. It will be interesting to see how she changes as she gets older.

What I find amazing is the incredible memories the Chalet girls have of their old school mates.

Irma can remember Jeanne from half a lifetime ago well enough to see a resemblance to Melanie and now ML, who barely knew Robin, can see a resemblance to Adrienne as soon as they meet.

Alison H wrote:
The conversation they have about boyfriends, and how they'd rather be playing tennis and having fun with their friends for now, is so much more normal than Mary-Lou blushing like a Victorian maiden aunt at the very mention of the word "boys".


Was this EBD's way of trying to update the CS books and make the more appealing to a 1960s audience?

Not sure it worked though, the conversation is extremely mild and EBD basically uses it to shut down the possibility of anymore 'boy' conversations.

It's an interesting contrast to books like the Trebizon series where boyfriends and going out are taken for granted but the girls still retain a healthy study/play attitude rather than a boy crazy one.

jennifer wrote:
I also don't understand how Robin has money she can devote to Adrienne's care - that's not how being a nun works, is it? Taking a vow of poverty, but keeping assets out in the world that you can use when you need?


Robin gives her jewellery to Joey to give to the triplets and Felicity later on.

But the money thing seems to be a private arrangement with Jack so he can invest it for her. But it's definitely something EBD just invents on the spur of the moment.

And how does she even have money? Her dad leaves her to Madge to raise, she goes to Oxford, and only works for a short while before she gets ill. Then she goes straight into the convent.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Feb 2018, 02:09 
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The prostitution link following on from murder and drugs was certainly lurid from EBD.

I thought Robin was great in this book with her rescue of Adrienne and I also liked Adrienne. I thought her wanting to show gratitude to Joey typical of any grateful, caring girl.

I found it frankly amazing that Joey did not visit Robin when Robin was in France. EBD could have covered it with a sentence but instead she makes her biggest star look uncaring. Sad too that it is not Joey who accompanies Adrienne to Canada to see Robin which might have made amends but instead it is Miss Annersley.

I think it is very interesting that Joey does not go to Sybil's wedding. EBD really did not like Sybil and with Phil's illness she is making the point that although it was Sybil's wedding, the welfare of Joey's own children (obviously) came first.

If I remember rightly Bride was meant to be getting married later on that year and EBD even has some nasty dig that the newly married Sybil would not be the most important guest at that wedding but Peggy complete with little son and newborn baby. As Phil was ill with polio at the time of that wedding I suppose this was another wedding that Joey certainly would have missed but probably all of the Maynards.

A shame we did not see more of Ailie and her friends in the series instead of nasty Jack. They might have been more in the style of Mary Lou.

What must have been one of EBD's great moments - Len becoming head girl - is surprisingly low key.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Feb 2018, 16:54 
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Doesn't Len say in Redheads that she and Con visited Simone during the summer holidays, while Margot was in Australia? If the two of them could visit Simone, then surely they could have visited Robin.

I don't know how Robin had money; perhaps she was getting an allowance from Jem as she couldn't work, or he didn't want her to work, and had saved a lot, since she had no living expenses.

I suppose when she handed it over to Jack, he wouldn't have thought it was his and Jo's to spend, and would have said so, so it was still available to use as Robin requested. (But wouldn't Robin have been expected to give what she had to the convent? In the past, didn't girls bring a dowry with them, when they entered religious life?)

I quite like the beginning of this; Madame is a very good villain, even though EBD couldn't be explicit about Adrienne's possible fate. It's nice to see the focus on Ailie & Co for a change, but I do think the early promise fades away a bit. I don't think Adrienne is a strong enough character to carry a whole book.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Feb 2018, 17:15 
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Audrey25 wrote:

If I remember rightly Bride was meant to be getting married later on that year and EBD even has some nasty dig that the newly married Sybil would not be the most important guest at that wedding but Peggy complete with little son and newborn baby. As Phil was ill with polio at the time of that wedding I suppose this was another wedding that Joey certainly would have missed but probably all of the Maynards.


All the single female cousins were going to be bridesmaids, and Sybil was going to be the matron of honour if it was too soon after the birth for Peggy to travel - but, if Peggy was OK, then Sybil was going to be shoved aside and Peggy take her place, and, IIRC, there's a nasty crack about how that'd mean Sybil would be the only female cousin not forming part of the wedding party. I suppose at that time most people still stuck to the tradition that a married woman couldn't be a bridesmaid, but would it have caused such a problem to have had two matrons of honour? It just seems like taking any chance to have a dig at poor Sybil.

EBD seemed to find it very hard to part with Mary-Lou, who kept popping up again - here, and in Reunion, and in Challenge, and in Prefects.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Feb 2018, 17:34 
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When I was 10, I thought that Adrienne was being threatened with becoming a kitchen skivvy; as an adult, I can see it as prostitution. It's a very clever piece of writing which can be read in different ways appropriate to age and experience yet still conveys the menace.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2018, 18:25 
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JayB wrote:
I suppose when she handed it over to Jack, he wouldn't have thought it was his and Jo's to spend, and would have said so, so it was still available to use as Robin requested. (But wouldn't Robin have been expected to give what she had to the convent? In the past, didn't girls bring a dowry with them, when they entered religious life?)

Bring a dowry, yes, JayB, if they could afford it, but not give up all their worldly property or money. No order could demand everything! Presumably there would be a specified amount, depending on each person's status in life, and the rest would be looked after by family or friends. Thinking of a friend of mine who left the Carmelites recently, her pension went towards the convent's coffers once she reached retirement age, like any normal household, because they do have to live on something, after all, but it was made over to her when she left.

I do like Anthea and her desire to pay back what she received - just as I love seeing the adult Robin and what she has become. Her courage is not to be doubted!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2018, 22:58 
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I know in New Beginnings Adrienne is part of the Maynard family and is one of Len's bridesmaids. However, do we hear Adrienne mentioned in any of the future EBD books in any way that shows she became a part of the Maynard household? I don't remember anything. During the Easter holidays Joey then takes on Erica and Claire. I wonder if Adrienne could have ended up with the Bettanys or even spent some holidays with Simone if she was friendly with Tessa?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2018, 04:39 
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This is one of the many Chalet books I haven't read! From the synopsis it sounds fascinating - also there are events I've come across as references in other books - that is, I've read in another CS book somewhere about the Sheets-and-pillowcases party.

I'm very interested that there are two letters in it; I don't recall anywhere else (but I've read very little!) where EBD tries the epistolatory style, ie with sequential exchange of letters, not just a brief excerpt of one. Does she give the letters in full? And does she use this style anywhere else?

(The murder idea leaves me gasping!)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2018, 06:02 
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The letter exchange thing crops up occasionally. She does it in Tom Tackles (Tom to her mother, Bride to her mother, Daisy to Robin, Miss Wilson to Miss Annersley, and various responses. And in Gay, there's Jacynth to her aunt, Gay to Ruth, Robin to Nan Blakeney, Joey to Miss Wilson.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2018, 13:23 
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I always thought this book was far too 'tidy' in plot - new girl finds she's related to CS major character, all works out well in the end (and another one to add to the Maynard clan due to Robin being in the convent).

I know a lot of the other books are formulaic in similar ways (Rikki Fry hates her father, is reconciled by the end of the book, and so on), but Adrienne was just too predictable in that way for me.

And it's amazing what you can do with two sheets and pillowcase.......and no cutting of the material.....


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2018, 15:23 
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In regard to the sheets and pillowcases party, Joey invites all the Seniors (about 100?) to her house. How big was her salon? Then all the girls' velveteens have been transported to the triplets' rooms in order for them to change. Chaos.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2018, 16:19 
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Housemate wrote:
This is one of the many Chalet books I haven't read! From the synopsis it sounds fascinating - also there are events I've come across as references in other books - that is, I've read in another CS book somewhere about the Sheets-and-pillowcases party.

I'm very interested that there are two letters in it; I don't recall anywhere else (but I've read very little!) where EBD tries the epistolatory style, ie with sequential exchange of letters, not just a brief excerpt of one. Does she give the letters in full? And does she use this style anywhere else?

(The murder idea leaves me gasping!)
The sheets and pillowcases party was (cough) 'borrowed' from Pixie O'Shaughnessy (1902) by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, who must surely have been one of EMBD's favourite authors in her young years - I think the first CS one is in Jo Returns (1936).

As jennifer says, letters do crop up occasionally - another two examples are in Kenya and Theodora.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Apr 2018, 11:55 
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I'm glad to hear about so many EBD uses of letter-writing - I think it's a beautifully useful and economical literary device!
I suppose that the sheets-and-pillowcases business wouldn't really be plagiarism if such parties were actually happening in the real world?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Apr 2018, 14:19 
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Housemate wrote:
I suppose that the sheets-and-pillowcases business wouldn't really be plagiarism if such parties were actually happening in the real world?
Good point, Housemate - I have to say that I've never come across them anywhere else, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't have, of course, though some of the phrasing in the text is very similar in both novels. I suspect that EMBD knew the Vaizey book almost by heart, and may well not have been consciously borrowing, though there are a number of points linking both authors in other books.

Many of Mrs Vaizey's books are available to read free online - Project Gutenberg and so on. I'd recommend Tom and Some Other Girls (1901) as well as the Pixie books to any CS readers who don't know her work...
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/21102/2 ... 1102-h.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2018, 01:41 
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"Sheets and Pillowcase" parties were certainly happening in the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th.

However, the similarities between the costumes in EBD's "Jo Returns" and Vaizey's "Pixie" suggest plagiarism and it's not the only time EBD appears to plagiarise either. These kind of borrowings were more common and didn't carry the same kind of connotations that they do now.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Adrienne and the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2018, 04:17 
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Swept off by Matey to pack

Joined: 19 Sep 2011, 22:32
Posts: 1101
Sorry for going away from the sheets and pillowcases but I started re-reading this book tonight after a bit of a gap.

I had forgotten about the poor start Adrienne had had in life. She has had virtually no schooling with other children being mainly taught by her mother. Her father does not have a regular job but flits around when the mood takes him with complete disregard for Adrienne and her mother. They don't seem to have furniture and end up living in little more than a brothel. Adrienne starves to make the food go further. Was that why her mother died. Worst husband/father ever in the series!

Also, regarding Ailie, she should be younger in this book. The triplets are barely 17 at the start so Ailie should be 13.

Would also have been good to get a proper, earlier explanation about Head Girl Len.


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