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 Post subject: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 00:44 
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Indulging in a midnight feast
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With five books to go, we move on this week to Summer Term at the Chalet School, first published in 1965 and covering the term following Adrienne. Erica Standish, daughter of an acquaintance Jo made in India before the war, is left to the guardianship of the Maynards after her mother’s death, and a train accident also adds eighteen month old Marie-Claire de Mabillon to the family. Erica is enrolled at the CS and teams up with a group which includes Gretchen von Ahlen, earning her the enmity of Victoria Wood. The school also reaches its Silver Jubilee, and the girls submit suggestions for celebrating. Notable events:

Jo is hurrying down Oxford Street when she is waylaid by a young girl who claims she must be her Aunt Joey Bettany. Jo thinks the girl is vaguely familiar, but it is only when she, the girl and the girl’s escort settle down in a café that she discovers the girl is Erica Jane Standish, daughter of Dacia-Denise Parson, an old acquaintance from her visit to India before the war.
Dacia has recently died and named Jo as Erica’s legal guardian. Erica and her escort, Miss Waller, who was Mrs Standish’s companion/housekeeper, had come to London from India to try and trace Jo through the Chalet School by applying to schools’ agencies when Erica recognised Jo in the street from photographs. Jo agrees that after Miss Waller’s wedding on the Friday, at which Erica is to be a bridesmaid, she will take the girl back to Switzerland with her where she will be entered for the Chalet School.
As Jo and Erica are travelling on the Vienna express from Paris to Basle, the train is involved in an accident and their carriage is overturned. They are rescued by fire crews and taken in by the nuns of St Vincent de Paul, who bus the survivors of the accident to their nearby convent. On the bus, Jo and Erica discover an eighteen month old girl who was taken from her dead mother’s arms. Jo tells the nuns that if no one claims the baby, she will take her in.
Beyond discovering that the little girl’s name is Marie-Claire and that she speaks nothing but French, no other information comes to light about her. Her mother’s bag and case and ticket had been lost in the accident, and though the Maynards and nuns try to trace any relatives, nobody comes forward to claim her, so Jack insists on taking her back to Freudesheim for the time being, where she is called Claire, and Erica delightedly claims her as her own little sister.
The first day of the new term arrives, and when Erica starts down the school staircase to take her place with the rest of her form as they are lining up in the entrance hall, she trips and bangs into Miss Armitage, almost knocking her over. Len and Ruey rescue her, and Len hands her over to Astrid Anderssen and Gretchen von Ahlen for sheepdogging.
Erica is placed in Upper IVb, and joins a friendship group comprised of Astrid, Gretchen, Agneta Gabrielli, Nita Tarengo, Clare Kynaston and Freda “Spider” Kendal. On her first day of full lessons, she feels she makes a bad impression on Miss Smith, their form mistress, when she accidentally knocks her books flying and then bangs her head on the underneath of her desk as she picks them up. However, Miss Smith is only concerned about whether Erica has hurt herself.
Two weeks into term, the staff hold an important meeting, and the next day at Prayers it is revealed that this term is the school’s Silver Jubilee. Miss Annersley gives the girls two days to come up with ideas for celebrating alongside the thanksgiving chapel services and Old Girls and Staff reception which are already planned for half-term.
After prep and mending that morning, Upper IVb discuss ideas, including erecting a statue of Madge and having her portrait painted for Hall, before Nita hits upon the idea of collecting to build a swimming pool, which the form leaps on with glee, although Miss Smith warns them that there may be an issue with finding enough free space for it as the land the school owns is already planned out.
The staff and Jo hold another meeting to review the suggestions. VIa have also come up with the idea of having a portrait of Madge done, and Jo suggests they ask Peter Young, Gillian Linton’s artist husband, to paint it (we also learn that they have just had a baby daughter, following three sons). Other approved ideas include: a Book of the Silver Jubilee, containing a history of the school with photographs; building a proper library which would include the Sally Denny Museum, and Upper IVb’s swimming pool suggestion. Jo also unveils an oil painting of the original Chalet, which she presents to the school as a gift from the MBR clan.
Two days later, the school is called together to be told the results of the voting. By this point, Erica has attracted the animosity of one Victoria Wood, who resents the fact that Erica was taken into Astrid and Co.’s friendship group without hesitation, while she herself has never had more than a tepid friendship with Astrid, whom she secretly admires. She makes several superior remarks to Erica but is squashed by Spider, who leaps to Erica’s defence.
At the special assembly, Miss Annersley reveals which suggestions have been accepted, and that Peter Young has agreed to paint Madge’s portrait. She also announces that Stacie Benson has agreed to make at least a beginning on the school history idea, and we learn that the oil painting of the original Chalet was done by Clem Barrass, and will be unveiled in Hall at half-term. The girls are told that although both the library and the swimming pool are excellent ideas, they can only afford to build one of them, and they are asked to vote for which one they prefer.
That afternoon while out on a ramble in the pine woods, Erica trips over a tree root and wrenches her ankle so badly she cries, prompting a sneer from Victoria which causes Nita to jump in and shake her. However, after Erica faints from the pain and Miss Dene has examined the ankle, she sends Spider to the nearby Elisehütte to ring up the San for an ambulance, as she believes Erica may have displaced or broken a bone and needs an X-ray.
It transpires that Erica has fractured a bone in her foot, and she remains in the San for about ten days before the doctors decide she is sufficiently recovered from the shock to go back to school. Meanwhile, Victoria’s sneer earns her a black mark with the form when they find out just how bad Erica’s injury is, and she is furious and hurt when Astrid and Co. tell her what they think of her.
Erica rejoins her gang and bewails that she is out of all games and long walks for the rest of the term, but Miss Ferrars overhears and reminds her that things could be worse. She also warns the girls that new swarms of bees have arrived on the Platz and to be careful around blossoming trees.
As Erica and sundry others in the form are sitting under a lime tree, Rita Quick runs over to show them the bottle of perfume she has just received as a birthday present. Jacquetta de Henezell reaches out to take it and examine it, and in the resulting scrimmage the bulb is pressed, causing a large shower of the fragrance to land on Erica’s frock.
The scent immediately catches the attention of a swarm of bees, who all land on the frock. Erica is petrified, and Victoria, whose father is an enthusiastic beekeeper, comes over to help steady her and warns her to keep very still. Herr Antonelli, the farmer to whom the bees belong, follows them and recaptures them in a swarming-skep, and compliments the two girls on their bravery. Miss Ferrars, fetched to the scene by Spider, severely catechises Rita and Jacquetta and praises Victoria.
Victoria finds herself the centre of attention over her actions, and is greatly relieved when Miss Annersley takes pity on her and calls the school together to announce that, although the swimming pool idea won the girls’ vote, a number of Old Girls have sent in donations for the library as well so that it too can be built, with the first spadeful to be dug on the last day of term by Mary-Lou.
Upper IVb has a day of accidents, beginning with Gretchen von Ahlen falling headlong into a tub of yellow-wash Gaudenz was intending to paint with, followed by Meg Lyall catching her frock on a loose splinter on her desk and tearing the skirt to rags, then Emilie Laurent, running like a goat with her head down towards the geography room as she is late, headbutts Frau Mieders in the middle as she comes out of the Domestic Science kitchens and sends a bucket of buttermilk flying everywhere.
Later that day, Jo informs the Head that she has finally had some news about Claire; a letter from a couple near Arles claiming to be her aunt and uncle. Jo tells her they are coming out to Switzerland in a few days to see Claire for themselves, but that part of her hopes they won’t want her and will agree to the Maynards keeping her.
The interview duly takes place, and a furious Jo relates the tale that evening to the Head, Rosalie Dene and the two Mlles. Claire is Marie-Claire de Mabillon, the daughter of a French army officer of aristocratic blood and a ballet dancer, who had married secretly and lived in London. Shortly before Claire’s birth, her father had flown over to France to see his family and tell them in person about his wife and child. The plane crashed and he was killed, and it was only when Claire’s mother finally contacted the de Mabillons herself that they learnt about her.
Jo is very scathing over the haughty attitude of the de Mabillons, who have proposed that if they take Claire, she be sent to a convent school and raised to consider a career in teaching or nursing, or entering religion, which for them would be the ideal solution. Jo would much rather she remain with the Maynards, and was secretly glad that Claire had thrown a tantrum instead of being her usual sunny self when she was introduced to her aunt and uncle.
The Sale – a Kate Greenaway Sale – is held, but sweltering heat precedes a tremendous thunderstorm, which causes an abrupt end to the selling, a thunderbolt to land on the First XI pitch and a landslide to occur elsewhere on the Platz. Erica and Victoria wind up the proceedings by tea tray tobogganing down the forbidden main staircase and crashing off it, with the result that Erica damages her poorly ankle and Victoria bangs her head.
The next day, Erica and Victoria are excluded from Upper IVa’s expedition to the Harder thanks to their tobogganing. Victoria remains in bed with a headache, and Erica, sulking over her misfortune while sitting out in the garden, decides to disobey Nurse’s orders to stay where she is and go to look at the crater caused by the thunderbolt, as she hasn’t yet seen it for herself and she knows that Gaudenz will be filling it in very shortly. Jo, walking past outside the fence, spots Erica crossing the meadow, and arrives at the crater just after Erica goes plummeting down into it, the edge having crumbled away as she stood on it to look down.
Jo dashes off for help and encounters Reg Entwistle, who dispatches her to ring up experienced mountaineer Eugen Courvoisier whom he knows is at home, and dashes off himself to the gym for ropes and nets. Meanwhile, Erica, seeing that the side of the crater where she fell in may cave again at any moment, manages to drag herself across to the other side. Eugen and Neil Sheppard arrive, and the three doctors manage to get Erica out of the pit just before the wall cracks and a spring bursts out. As a result of her exploit, Erica fractures another bone in her foot.

So, thoughts on this effort? What do you think of Erica, Claire and their respective entrances to the Maynard clan? Thoughts on the train accident? What about the feud between Erica and Victoria? The Silver Jubilee celebrations? Erica’s catalogue of mishaps?

This one is just absolutely bonkers, even by late CS standards. It makes Redheads look like a serious piece of work by comparison. From that What The Actual Heck opening chapter to the abrupt ending, the double adoptee storylines, the evaporating plots, the Silver Jubilee celebrations that just sort of fade away to nothing, the Victoria feud that’s a complete carbon copy of the Mary Woodley storyline in Barbara even down to the similar-sounding surnames…it's like EBD just went 'What the heck' and flung everything but the kitchen sink into the mix, then forgot halfway through just what she'd included.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 02:50 
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Oooh, I've been waiting for this one! The madness! I think it's the most bonkers premise in a series that includes long-lost relatives that are obviously related because their names start with the same syllable, multi-generation gang feuds and kidnapped Ruritarian princesses.

So Erica's mother and Joey knew each other for a couple of months about 20 years previously and lost touch soon afterwards. She left her only child to Joey (somehow legally), without once contacting Joey during an extended, slowly progressing illness, or even knowing where Joey lived. Erica and her governess travelled all the way to England without bothering to contact Joey, and relied on running into her on the street as identification. What if Joey couldn't take in a child? Or didn't remember Dacia? Or was in Australia? Or in poor health herself?

Then, when a baby's mother is killed in a train crash, Joey's immediate reaction is "Can I have it?!" and to cart it across international borders. With no documentation and not even knowing her name. I mean, the most likely situation was that the baby had a father, or other frantic relatives wondering if she was okay, and what lunatic had absconded with her, not that she was an orphan with appropriately well bred relatives who didn't want her (no peasant babies here!).

The series of mishaps isn't that bad in comparison, although it would fit more with the earlier part of the series, where death defying rescues were commonplace. Although the swarm of bees is a bit over the top. The jealousy plotline is rather perfunctory, and Gretchen von Ahlen is suddenly long-term friends with a different group than before.

The Silver Jubilee seems a bit tacked on too, and I'm surprised that they could do fundraising for a library and pool so soon after building the chapels. And the problems with land to build seem to vanish.

One problem at this phase of the series is that I think that the triplets and Jack's groups have dominated for so many books that the rest of the school has been rather neglected, and the triplets are leaving soon, so there needs to be a new focus group. So we get introductions of a bunch of new groups over the next couple of books, none of whom are particularly engaging. There's Erica and U4b here, in the next book we get Jocelyn and L4 and Evelyn and Va, then in the book after, Samaris and U4b.

Oddly, though, I kind of like Erica. I see her turning into a good-natured, but rather ditzy teenager. The kind of girl who likes pop music, and sighing over cute boys, and wants to be up to the latest in fashion and dances, and loves makeup and nail polish. She'd be well-meaning, but easily led into mischief by stronger characters, and not particularly keen on schoolwork - she'd plan to do a short business course instead of university, and get a secretarial job in the city. So basically, the total opposite of a model CS girl, or what Joey expects from her daughters. And she'd definitely push to spend vacations with friends from school, rather than with the Maynards.

I do wonder how Claire would fare, when the Maynards face the reality of needing to support her and educate her, after doing so for eleven other children. (I assume the Richardsons and Erica have money left by their parents to cover that, and Adrienne doesn't seem to be around). The triplets haven't hit university yet, so the reality may not have sunk in.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 04:09 
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This was one of the first CS books I read after buying it as a hardback fairly soon after it was published. I didn't "know" the triplets and when EBD has Joey thinking that Len would take over at home if anything happened to Joey, I rember thinking so Len is THAT kind of a girl.

I loved the train journey, especially the cakes in Paris but I don't like Erica - a precious pain. I should think some of the girls who may have admired Jo or any of the triplets could have been a bit jealous of Erica appearing out of the blue and getting a home with the Maynards. I have to say that apart from Copper and Ailie & Co and maybe Adrienne and Samaris, I found all of the girls who appeared after the triplets not particularly appealing.

As for Erica bumping into Joey in Oxford Street and recognising Joey, and being left to Joey in the first place - mad, totally mad. Also does not say much for the Bettanys who must have been around too.

What really amazes me though much more than anything gone before, was the fact that Joey was in England at all. What about her sons on holiday in Switzerland? What about little Phil who could not have been very fit? Shame on you Joey for bad mothering.

Claire gets forgtten about in later books and might have been better with her own relatives.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 05:22 
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jennifer wrote:
... relied on running into her on the street as identification. What if Joey couldn't take in a child? Or didn't remember Dacia? Or was in Australia? Or in poor health herself?


The governess's fiance suggested going to Joey's publisher when Erica runs into Joey, so there was some vague plan in mind.

But yes, you would think a dying mother would at least make sure the person she plans to leave her daughter to is OK with that idea.

What amazes me though is the speed and ease that Joey just accepts the story without thinking "scam!"

You should at least get someone to investigate the story but she just takes Erica on a trip halfway across Europe only days after meeting her. Does she even ask to see the will?

And the comments she makes about their fellow passengers is just so rude and snobbish. And not to mention downright wrong - telling a young girl that someone who CHOOSES to dress differently is automatically untrustworthy?

Quote:
Then, when a baby's mother is killed in a train crash, Joey's immediate reaction is "Can I have it?!" and to cart it across international borders. With no documentation and not even knowing her name.


EBD slurs over all that by saying Jack Maynard was very used to getting his own way and was forceful in getting Claire to stay with them. You can just imagine him going "don't you know who I am?!" and slamming his fist down. Anyone that desperate to get hold of a baby and I would immediately get suspicious about why.

And it's a temporary arrangement with newspaper ads placed to try and contact the family, so they do make an effort to find her proper family.

Quote:
I do wonder how Claire would fare, when the Maynards face the reality of needing to support her and educate her, after doing so for eleven other children.


Maybe her blood family were so thankful to be rid of her they gave the Maynards money to care for her.

You do wonder though when Claire gets older, what they tell her about her blood family.

The reason Joey HAS to legally adopt her is so the de Mabillons can't claim her later on if she becomes well known as a ballerina, which is utterly bizarre.

You would think the issue is more the other way round - that one day Claire would go to the wealthy de Mabillons and ask for money and her dad's share of the inheritance.

And what kind of school has the wherewithal to do a massive coming of age celebration, raise money for two chapels and then also raise money for a massive project for the silver jubilee, all within the space of five years?

Why not have a special commemorative service and be done with it?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 08:54 
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I do wonder what EBD was on when she wrote this book :lol: . Dacia left her daughter to the guardianship of someone she'd lost touch with 20 years earlier? Joey could have been dead, for all she knew. Oh, hang on, she knew that Joey was an author, and that Madge owned the Chalet School, but didn't think to try to contact either of them that way. Then Erica happened to recognise Joey in the street. And then the Maynards were allowed to take a child to another country, without even waiting to see if any relatives came forward, and it was followed up by a bizarre tale about an aristocrat and a ballet dancer.

About the only realistic thing is the Sale being ruined by bad weather - sports days and local fetes and so on are always being affected by rain in the real world, but very rarely so in CS-land. Although meteorites do not generally fall on cricket pitches.

Like I said, I do wonder what EBD was on when she wrote this!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 13:12 
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Alison H wrote:
I do wonder what EBD was on when she wrote this book :lol: .
Well, the book was published only four years before she died, and she had heart problems, so she may well have been on quite strong medication.

I think it's probably also likely that by this time she was writing completely intuitively rather than methodically, and at times her wish to write may have been overcome by illness and depression (mentioned in Behind the Chalet School, p 181). I do feel (though I admit that I have no evidence for this other than my reading of the books) that there are parts of the books that were not necessarily written in chronological order, plus a tendency to start with a situation and fill in the back story afterwards - a likely example is the presence in this book of the silver tea-and-coffee service that the Stuffer and Maria had given Jo and Jack as a wedding present all those years before, and which had belonged to their parents. She clearly loved working out these back narratives, and if she'd been alive these days, I think EMBD would be a family history junkie...

I've said this before, but I always imagine Summer Term as a film - it makes a lot more sense that way!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 15:57 
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My own first response to this book was 'What on earth is this all about?'

It was ludicrous from start to finish.

And I can see poor little Marie-Claire getting very angry in later years when she discovers that her adoption by the Maynards has robbed her of her Patrimoine.

She should be a rich little girl, and now all she'll get is the handing down of 'nine good ginghams'.

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A certain edge when she spoke of Mrs Maynard, certainly, but, after all, not everyone could love Joey.
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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 20:28 
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I don't hate this book per se but I am so, so disappointed in it (regardless of EBD's health).

It was, possibly the last or second to last book before I obtained a full collection and I found it in the Royal Mile/Canongate Edinburgh Bookshop which no longer exists anymore (and I work near there now) and remember being so excited to finally read it and waited until I was on the bus going home and I just thought "what is this?"

It is, as Jennie says, ludicrous the whole way through. Although Erica seems like a nice, if a bit ditzy, girl so at least there is that but it is a very small positive for a whole "chapter of incidents" that make up the book.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 20 Feb 2018, 20:43 
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Quote:
What really amazes me though much more than anything gone before, was the fact that Joey was in England at all. What about her sons on holiday in Switzerland? What about little Phil who could not have been very fit? Shame on you Joey for bad mothering.

It's said that Jo is in England to assist Mary Lou with some business, as one of her guardians and trustees. Mary Lou isn't of age yet, is she, so somebody had to do it. I only wondered why Jo didn't save time by flying both ways.
Quote:
I do feel... that there are parts of the books that were not necessarily written in chronological order, plus a tendency to start with a situation and fill in the back story afterwards

I do that! The main thing is to go back and tuck in any loose ends later.

The opening section of the book is dramatic enough, but it all slows down once they get to the Platz and most of the book is fairly boring, on re-reading. As others have said, neither Erica nor any of her form are particularly strong or interesting characters.

I thought Erica's actions in going to look at the crater in the cricket pitch, to the point that she went beyond the palings Gaudenz had begin to put in, were utterly idiotic. I can't imagine even Emerence and Margot at their most wicked doing such a thing.

Though I do wonder why no-one had thought to forbid any of the girls to go near the cricket pitch.

I thought it was interesting that, with Hilda being out of action, it was Nancy who took the initiative in speaking to Gaudenz about the crater, rather than any of the mistresses who were technically more senior. I suppose EBD was already thinking about Challenge, and was establishing Nancy as better leadership material.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 05:13 
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JayB wrote:
Though I do wonder why no-one had thought to forbid any of the girls to go near the cricket pitch.


Maybe they thought it was sheer common sense - 'don't go near a massive crater in the ground' should not be something that needs articulation. But then again, we are talking about CS girls ...

And the insane conversation the prefects have with Nancy Wilmot when they go inspect the crater.

She leads them on to believe the hole could be used for the swimming pool they wanted.

Then, after leading them on to believe it is a possibility and even saying they were stupid for not thinking of it themselves, backtracks on the whole idea and says:

Quote:
“I’m afraid a hole of that size will be difficult to fill (with water), not to speak of turfing it and getting the whole pitch back into match form.”


So what was the point of leading them on and making them think it could be done??

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 16:23 
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In't this the one where Joey goes on a rant about how the beatnik girls are clearly untrustworthy because they don't wash and have messy hair, and they clearly don't respect other people going out like that? That was EBD speaking, to me, not Joey. I can imagine Joey being annoyed at the swearing, especially as she has a young girl with her, but that comment about beatniks just seems so jarring. Joey was notoriously scruffy as a kid and Madge was always bemoaning the state of her hair and her frocks.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 16:47 
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Such a lot happens in this book, but none of it makes any sense. I suppose the best you can say of it is at least it's not boring.

I like Erica. I think her ditziness is rather refreshing after a string of hard-working, competent heroines (Jane, Adrienne, Copper).

Poor Marie-Claire is a waste of space. She adds nothing to the story and is forgotten about afterward, so there was no point in introducing her.

The bee incident is weird and not realistic. Doesn't perfume come with all sorts of chemicals and additives to preserve it or whatever? I can't imagine a swarm of bees mistaking perfume for flowers anymore than they would a piece of Turkish delight for roses.

Lotte wrote:
In't this the one where Joey goes on a rant about how the beatnik girls are clearly untrustworthy because they don't wash and have messy hair, and they clearly don't respect other people going out like that? That was EBD speaking, to me, not Joey. I can imagine Joey being annoyed at the swearing, especially as she has a young girl with her, but that comment about beatniks just seems so jarring. Joey was notoriously scruffy as a kid and Madge was always bemoaning the state of her hair and her frocks.


Joey was wholesomely scruffy, though. Beatniks are scruffy with an agenda. Or something like that.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 16:56 
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Lotte wrote:
In't this the one where Joey goes on a rant about how the beatnik girls are clearly untrustworthy because they don't wash and have messy hair, and they clearly don't respect other people going out like that?


Yes! It's when she's on the train with Erica, and she starts harping on about how they all need a good bath - I think she says "a good tubbing". I couldn't agree more: I find it very hard to imagine Joey saying something like that. As you say, she was always very untidy as a young girl, and I can't imagine even one of the neat and tidy CS girls like Gisela or Simone being so judgemental about complete strangers just because of their appearance.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 17:26 
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Alison H wrote:
Lotte wrote:
In't this the one where Joey goes on a rant about how the beatnik girls are clearly untrustworthy because they don't wash and have messy hair, and they clearly don't respect other people going out like that?


Yes! It's when she's on the train with Erica, and she starts harping on about how they all need a good bath - I think she says "a good tubbing". I couldn't agree more: I find it very hard to imagine Joey saying something like that. As you say, she was always very untidy as a young girl, and I can't imagine even one of the neat and tidy CS girls like Gisela or Simone being so judgemental about complete strangers just because of their appearance.
Absolutely. I think what we're seeing in these later books is a loss of the direct authorial voice, though - it seems to have to come via a character, and I find the result is sometimes a bit odd, to say the least, as here. I'm supposed to be working on something else ATM, so I can't stop and check for actual examples, but there are plenty of instances in the early books when the reader is being spoken to by the author herself, and it's quite a refreshing tactic.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 19:49 
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mynameisdumbnuts wrote:
The bee incident is weird and not realistic. Doesn't perfume come with all sorts of chemicals and additives to preserve it or whatever? I can't imagine a swarm of bees mistaking perfume for flowers anymore than they would a piece of Turkish delight for roses.


Bees do get confused by artificial scents but a swarm isn't looking for nectar, they are looking for a suitable home. They aren't going to be paying attention to scents.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 21 Feb 2018, 22:52 
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Re. the beatniks, I think EBD as she aged was finding it increasingly difficult to relate to the rapidly changing society of the 1960s. Agatha Christie was a similar age to EBD, and one sees similar discomfort in some of her later books, sometimes expressed through her alter ego, Mrs Oliver.

One thing I meant to say before: I find it inconceivable that Jem was unable to choke off Jo's unwanted suitor. He was quite protective of Jo, and I can't imagine him hesitating to do whatever was necessary to protect her from harassment. He had the power to hire and fire at the Sonnalpe, after all, and he was already Somebody in the TB world; with a word or two in the right ears he could have destroyed the young man's career entirely, had he chosen to do so.

It wasn't really necessary to invent the suitor to give Jo a reason to go to India anyway; visiting Dick and Mollie would have been quite a natural thing for her to do, once she'd left school - taking an opportunity to travel, visit new places, meet new people.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 22 Feb 2018, 00:57 
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Jem has no problem fishing Mario Balbini out of the bushes and given him a thrashing - I can't see him balking at telling an annoying suitor to get away from his sister in law. As a brother-in-law if not as an employer (this was the 1930s after all).

The other odd thing about the India trip was taking Robin. This was the girl who was so fragile that a night of worry could send her into fatal decline, and who had to stay at the Annexe at altitude until she was an adult or die. Sending her to stay in the Indian climate, which was so unhealthy the Bettanys had to leave their children with relatives on another continent, was unlikely.

But I think the Indian trip was added later. There's no mention of it until well after the time it would have taken place. By that point, Robin was healthy, and her childhood delicacy was forgotten.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2018, 01:10 
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Lotte wrote:
In't this the one where Joey goes on a rant about how the beatnik girls are clearly untrustworthy because they don't wash and have messy hair, and they clearly don't respect other people going out like that? That was EBD speaking, to me, not Joey. I can imagine Joey being annoyed at the swearing, especially as she has a young girl with her, but that comment about beatniks just seems so jarring.


Not to mention an incredibly bad message to give to a young girl to be so judgemental, along with the implication that the well dressed person IS trustworthy. As we now know, that is far from the case.

It is actually quite a sad passage in the CS series to see Joey being so scornful of someone who chooses to dress differently.

Her logic also doesn't makes sense - how is a person untrustworthy because they choose to look untidy?

So if I don't tuck my shirt into my jeans, or forget to do up my hair, then my word is suddenly not worth anything?

If the beatniks had gone to the bathroom, cleaned themselves up, did up their hair etc then, by EBD's logic, they are suddenly transformed into people you can trust.

But sadly, even now, some of that attitude lingers of who can or can't be trusted just because of how they dress or what they do.

As I watched the news reports on the Nassar guy being accused of horrific crimes, one message which stood out was that some of the girls who DID report him were told he was a doctor and therefore he couldn't possibly have done what they accused him of. I get the feeling EBD would have been one of the adults giving out that message.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2018, 22:07 
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Joyce wrote:
As I watched the news reports on the Nassar guy being accused of horrific crimes, one message which stood out was that some of the girls who DID report him were told he was a doctor and therefore he couldn't possibly have done what they accused him of. I get the feeling EBD would have been one of the adults giving out that message.
Sorry, but how is that not judgmental about EBD? I'm sure that it wasn't meant to be, but there's no hard evidence to back it up, and it's an accusation against someone who can't answer back.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Summer Term at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 24 Feb 2018, 02:58 
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Noreen wrote:
Joyce wrote:
As I watched the news reports on the Nassar guy being accused of horrific crimes, one message which stood out was that some of the girls who DID report him were told he was a doctor and therefore he couldn't possibly have done what they accused him of. I get the feeling EBD would have been one of the adults giving out that message.
Sorry, but how is that not judgmental about EBD? I'm sure that it wasn't meant to be, but there's no hard evidence to back it up, and it's an accusation against someone who can't answer back.


Yes, it was OTT and I apologise.

However, if I could explain.

There is no doubt that EBD's personal opinions and attitudes leak over into her writing. And one of those attitudes is a strong doctor-as-God complex.

We see Jem thrashing an acquaintance's son with parental approval, Jack being allowed to override the wishes of a headmistress regarding school punishments, the doctor themselves being allowed to issue punishments to the girls and Jack taking on the role of policeman in questioning someone regarding their evidence in a kidnapping. Miss Annersley etc call on the doctors for help in almost every circumstance to absurd lengths.

Of course it is fiction, but do we really think that EBD did not extend these attitudes to her real life and it affected the way she regarded them? That she didn't think of doctors as having the last word in everything, not just medical matters, and being allowed to act as they like simply because of their profession?

But I do agree we don't know exactly how far she would have extended those attitudes into real life, so I apologise for that comment.

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