Login   Register     FAQ    Members

View unanswered posts   View active topics


Board index .:|:. Slogging at Lessons :: Books .:|:. Special Sixth
It is currently 20 Aug 2018, 23:46

Forum rules


Please ensure that all posts are kept impersonal. Any posts involving an ad hominem attack will be edited or deleted. Please feel free to express your views, but expect that others may disagree with them. Please limit the use of the :oops: smiley as far as possible. Please do not PM another user to argue with them; if this happens, please can the recipient contact a mod. Language of gentlemen, chaps!



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 08:47 
Offline
Stumped by Lower Four's quiz
Stumped by Lower Four's quiz

Joined: 30 Jan 2004, 00:07
Posts: 983
Location: Taiwan
Gerry Goes to School is the first book EBD wrote, published in 1922. A combined family/school story, it is the first book in the loosely connected La Rochelle series (named after the setting of the third book). In it we find some classic EBD plot-lines, including an orphan girl from an old fashioned home taken in by relatives and attending a large day school. There's also jealousy plotline, a school strike, two near death adventures, and a very EBD-style proposal.

-----

We start the book with an introduction to the Trevennor family; a cash-strapped country rector with ten children; the adult Paul, a musician living at home, 19 year old Peggy, recently finished school, 17 year old hockey-enthusiast Helen (Nell), ~16 year old Laurence (Larry), 14 year old year twins old Jill and Bernard (Bear), ~12 year old delicate Cecil, Sheila, Geoffrey and Betty. Rev. Trevennor has recieved an interesting letter from distant relatives, the Challoner sisters, elderly, old fashioned spinsters. They need to go abroad for their health, and are asking the Trevennors to take care of the orphaned great-niece they've been raising after her parents were killed by a tornado, twelve year old Geraldine. The Trevennors agree to take her, but worry a bit about how she'll settle in to normal family and school life, as she's been raised using very old-fashioned methods and kept close to home.

We then switch to young Geraldine, dressed in old fashioned clothes, complete with ringlets, obediently practicing piano, doing her embroidery and going for a sedate walk, while thinking over the new situation. She daydreams of going to a big boarding-school with lots of girls. Gerry is by nature a friendly, eager girl, talented at music, but is used to being seen, not heard, and her only experience of other girls is going to church on Sundays. Gerry is soon on her way to the Rectory, but is asleep when she arrives, and wakes up to her new home. At first, she thinks the pretty Peggy, who comes to her room, is a fairy princess, to the latter's embarassment.

In spite of her shyness, Gerry settles in surprisingly well; Mrs Challoner had worked quickly to adapt some normal school-girl clothes for her, in exchange for her old fashioned dresses. Nell dubs her "Gerry" and gives her a new hair style. She is initially scared by Paul, the eldest boy, who teases her gently, but they soon make friends. This ignites the ire of Jill, who tends to be jealous and possessive.

Gerry and the other kids go for a walk, where she is baffled by hockey talk and startled by the casual way the Trevennors interact. The other discuss their career plans; Gerry is astonished that the girls are planning on careers, and are proud of Jill's ambition to be a doctor, as her aunts regarded women who had to work with pity. There's a brief arguement when Gerry is horrified that Cecil wants to be a wicked actor, upsetting the others. They visit some neighbours, and Cecil, Larry and Bernard notice and discuss Jill's animosity.

Gerry is sent to school on Monday on the train with the other girls; Jill is supposed to look after her, but ditches her at the first opportunity, and bad-mouths her to her friends. Gerry is taken up by Rosamund Atherton, a friendly schoolmate, and introduced to Con Atherton and Muriel Hatherly, girls her own age. Nell takes her to the Head, and she meets pretty Miss Hamilton, who will be her mistress. Con and Muriel look after her at prayers, and she does some work with Miss Hamilton to determine her place. Miss Hamilton is suprised by her old-fashioned education, with outdated books and no algebra, but she is placed in IIIa, as expected.

Gerry settles into her form, enjoying geography, and meets the rest of her classmates, including the mischevious Kitty O'Connell. After lunch she is inducted into the Middles secret society. The group is planning on preparing a play, and is up in arms over their treatment by the seniors, particularly regarding fag duty and the bossy and sharp-tongued Alicia Brett. They consider striking. Gerry heads home with her new friends and the Athertons and Trevennors, tired but happy.

That evening Paul offers to help Gerry with her mathematics, which further irritates Jill, who is trying to keep his attention for herself. Gerry offers to help Nell with her French, to the latter's suprise, as Gerry is surprisingly fluent. Mr Maitland, the curate, stops by for a music practice with some of the others, and Gerry accompanies them, impressing them with her high level of musical ability.

Jill, who has continued to be nasty to Gerry, wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her how much she hates her, and tells her to leave because no-one wants her. The two get into a physical scrap, which wakes up Paul. Paul deals with the situation firmly, which unfortunately makes Jill even angrier, and miserable because of the disapproval of the rest of the family.

Gerry goes with the others to visit the Comptons; Marcia is the Head Girl, and Gwen one of Gerry's friends. She is reluctant to go, given Jill's attitude, but Jill is ill (the result of deliberately chilling herself the night before), and stays home. They have a good visit, and Marcia endears herself to Gerry with her kindness. Gwen and Gerry wander around the farm and discuss school matters, as do their seniors. Gerry goes on her first motor ride, and her first cinema show. On the way back, there is a near tragedy when the horse bolts, and Larry just barely manages to avoid a terrible accident. Larry feels guilty, because he let the horse be fed oats which over-excited him, but Gerry comforts him, and tells him stories about her life with her aunts. The family passes a quiet Sunday. Bernard makes fun of his maths master, and Gerry passes on gossip that he is in love with Miss Hamilton, but is reprimanded for it. Betty eats all the sugar, and Gerry is scared by the family cat.

A month passes, and Gerry settles firmly into school life, learning to talk slang and climb trees, and is recognized as a person of character by her from. The middles goes on strike as fags, fed up with their treatment by the seniors, inflamed by edicts from the Head about supervision for changing their shoes. They deliver a written ultimatum to the prefects who are decidedly un-amused, but recognize that Alicia's behaviour is largely to blame. The prefects have a meeting and decide to invite representatives from the middles to discuss it with them. The middles are firm, and Gerry sticks by them, in spite of a personal appeal from her adored Marcia. The prefects decide to ban the middles from games practice and library; the middles give in for the sake of their classmates, but keep their opinions and voluntarily boycott the library.

That weekend there is an unexpected cold snap, and the kids are looking forward to skating. They are told that the pond is not ready for skating, however. Jill, who hasn't heard this, runs off for some solo skating. Gerry sees her go, and runs after her to warn her. She is too late, but saves Jill when she falls through the ice, along with Mr Maitland, who is passing by and hears her cries.

Mr Maitland become engaged to Peggy as a result of the rescue, via a meaningful look when she asks if there is anything she can do to thank him. Jill, recovering from her dunking, sends Betty to get Gerry, and apologizes for her behaviour, and the two become good friends. Gerry is a hero at school, to her embarrassment. The school puts on its end of term play, Gerry's mistress, Miss Hamilton, becomes engaged to Larry's math master, and Gerry is promoted to the higher form. The Trevennors have heard from Gerry's aunts; they plan to stay abroad permanently, and would like the Trevennors to keep her. They offer to pay for Jill's training as a doctor in exchange, to everyone's satisfaction.

----

So, what do you think of EBD's first effort? How does St Peter's compare to the Chalet school, and what do you think of the middle's rebellion, something we don't see in the Chalet School. What about the first appearance of some EBD staples - the old-fashioned girl, the inexplicable jealous feud, the sudden engagement, the dramatic ice rescue. And, of course, the first appearance of "gray, still, and to all appearance dead".

_________________


Ring the bells that still can ring; Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything; That's how the light gets in
Anthem: Leonard Cohen



Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 14:22 
Offline
Rescuing a Junior from the lake
Rescuing a Junior from the lake
User avatar

Joined: 15 Oct 2004, 13:57
Posts: 7806
Location: Manchester
I thoroughly dislike the fagging system in Enid Blyton's St Clare's books, and am very glad that it wasn't used at the Chalet School. The Middles' revolt is interesting because most of EBD's books have the Seniors as the goodies and the Middles, however appealing and charismatic, as the naughty ones, whereas in this book the Middles are genuinely hard done by.

A lot of the other storylines do turn up in later EBD books, but somehow this one, and maybe the other early La Rochelles as well, seems to be years earlier than the first few Chalet School … even though having girls planning careers was quite forward-thinking for the time. It's telling that, at this point, and with Eustacia and Thekla, and with Polly Heriot's guardians, and into the post war era with Verity and even as late as Prunella, being prim and or "old-fashioned" is a bad thing … whereas, by EBD's later books, it's anything but!

I do like this book, and think it's very good for a first (well, first published) effort. I'm sorry that Gerry disappears. I think Grizel badly needed a friend outside CS-land, and would have liked to see more of the friendship between the two of them. It's also interesting that this book, and some of the other La Rochelles, involve boys as more than just numbers to make up the family size. The Lorna books don't, and Monica's brother Barney is only a minor character.

It is really EBD: even if you didn't know who'd written it, you'd only have to read a few pages to work it out!

_________________
We really must stop eating like this ...

Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open.

http://setinthepast.wordpress.com/




Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 15:13 
Offline
Discovering ink blots in your Latin prep
Discovering ink blots in your Latin prep

Joined: 30 Nov 2008, 22:28
Posts: 254
Thank you, Jennifer! I am so going to enjoy reading this and the other La Rochelle threads - I haven't read any of the books, but this resume just exudes EBD from every line!


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 15:58 
Offline
Being rude to your sheepdog

Joined: 01 Apr 2018, 03:39
Posts: 45
Wow! I had no idea that Gerry Challoner had any existence at all other than as a vaguely mentioned friend of Grizel when she had left the Chalet School - or that she had a link to La Rochelle (I've only read one of those books, called Janey Something Something - it ends with the birth of a boy called Barnabas/Barney). So this is really fascinating - and what a very interesting background for a friend of Grizel, too! I'm not surprised they found they had a lot in common. How old was Gerry when her parents died? Did she herself go through the tornado? And where did the tornado happen?

A strike by the Juniors/Middles is a recurring theme in school stories, isn't it? I think Dorita Fairlie Bruce was in before this one (?? I'm thinking of The Senior Prefect, but I haven't got the book by me to check). I'm pretty sure they were occurring in boys' school stories earlier still, though. Very interesting as a hint of UK conservative unease with real-life strike possibilities, I should think.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 18:59 
Offline
Discovering you have to be trilingual
User avatar

Joined: 24 Jul 2009, 18:58
Posts: 64
'Janie Steps in' - book where Barney is born, also where we get a back story for Nan Blakeney, who gets brief mentions Exile and one other


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 17 Apr 2018, 19:44 
Offline
Hemming sheets
Hemming sheets
User avatar

Joined: 23 Dec 2005, 14:08
Posts: 214
Location: York
Thank you for this Jennifer!

The first 3 La Rochelle books are amongst my favourite EBDs - this book is the third ranked for me. It’s very EBD but without so many EBDisms, in fact I can’t recall any in this one! There are some storylines that are repeated in other books such as girls becoming friends after a long feud and the array of international characters (quite a few considering it’s set in a small country town in 1920s England. They are though much less stereotyped than the CS). I always do a double take when I read about the *old fashioned* household that Gerry was brought up in being like the 1850s - of course that’s what would have been old fashioned to EBD but it’s a surprising to contrast that with what would be considered old fashioned today.

I really enjoyed the family setting in this book and seeing quite a bit of Mr and Mrs Trevennor. I also like the role that oldest son Paul plays as a leader in the house. It’s a shame that EBD did not incorporate more teenage boys in her CS stories, I can imagine Rix or David Russell being like Paul.

Overall this book has a lovely homely feel, in contrast to the next book in the series. The Trevennors are mostly background characters in the next book but once you read that one....well, I won’t say anything more on that one for fear of spoiling it :|


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 18 Apr 2018, 19:52 
Offline
Being taken down a peg or two
Being taken down a peg or two
User avatar

Joined: 17 Nov 2005, 21:21
Posts: 624
Location: On the sofa
The person I feel sorriest for in this book is the oldest daughter - Margaret? - who has left school and now has absolutely nothing to do except help her mother around the house, while her younger siblings come rushing home each night full of their day! No wonder she married the curate, just to get a home of her own, shouldn't wonder!


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 18 Apr 2018, 21:45 
Offline
Declaring it to have been the best term
Declaring it to have been the best term

Joined: 19 Sep 2011, 22:32
Posts: 1090
Thank you very much for this Jennifer.

I have a GGB copy of this book which I read a number of years ago. Although I remember enjoying the book I have never read it again. It does not rank amongst my favourite La Rochelle books but it is not the worst.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 19 Apr 2018, 08:58 
Offline
Stumped by Lower Four's quiz
Stumped by Lower Four's quiz

Joined: 30 Jan 2004, 00:07
Posts: 983
Location: Taiwan
I quite like this book in general - it's very EBD, and the mix of family life and school is well done. The Trevennors feel like a more realistic example of a big family than the money-worry-free Maynards. The kids go to day school and it's difficult for them to manage that, they can't afford to send Jill to medical school, and Rev Trevennor is worrying about Cecil's health, as they can't afford to follow the doctor's recommendations to send him to a better climate. Although they do let Paul hang around the house, picking up part time music work that doesn't pay much, rather than expecting that he'd get a job.

It's also interesting to see a school that has flaws in a way the Chalet School doesn't (more of this in the next book).

I don't like Jill, and I don't buy that she and Gerry would become best friends. I've been bullied at that age, and I just can't picture going from making sure I was in earshot of an adult when the bully was around, so they couldn't get at me, to being friends with them. And that was just at school - I didn't have to live with them, and have them waking me up in the middle of the night to torment me!

For Margaret, I think that was pretty normal for that era. With nine younger siblings, and parish work, and limited cash, she'd have plenty to do at home, and her mother does seem to respect her and regard her as a fellow adult. And she doesn't seem to have a strong desire for a career, like Nell and Jill.

_________________


Ring the bells that still can ring; Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything; That's how the light gets in
Anthem: Leonard Cohen



Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 19 Apr 2018, 13:46 
Offline
Cooking Disaster!
Cooking Disaster!

Joined: 29 May 2009, 18:01
Posts: 298
Location: North west Germany
Quote:
I quite like this book in general - it's very EBD, and the mix of family life and school is well done. The Trevennors feel like a more realistic example of a big family than the money-worry-free Maynards. The kids go to day school and it's difficult for them to manage that, they can't afford to send Jill to medical school, and Rev Trevennor is worrying about Cecil's health, as they can't afford to follow the doctor's recommendations to send him to a better climate. Although they do let Paul hang around the house, picking up part time music work that doesn't pay much, rather than expecting that he'd get a job.


"Paul is going to be a musician." Perhaps he was planning further training but was taking on part-time engagements in order to be able to save up for this.
EBD's love of music comes throught in this book too.
I like all the books in this series.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 19 Apr 2018, 15:35 
Offline
Coming top in the form
Coming top in the form

Joined: 29 Dec 2009, 15:11
Posts: 500
I haven't read this book but after reading the synopsis I want to! What struck me was the Trevennors wanting to help Gerry settle into her new life and appreciating what a change it would be for her. This compares very favourably to Eustacia's aunt and family who seemed to make little or no allowance for her upbringing and couldn't wait to get rid of her.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 20 Apr 2018, 14:12 
Offline
Attending a prees' meeting
Attending a prees' meeting
User avatar

Joined: 21 Jul 2012, 16:53
Posts: 3100
Location: West London Alps
lizco wrote:
...What struck me was the Trevennors wanting to help Gerry settle into her new life and appreciating what a change it would be for her. This compares very favourably to Eustacia's aunt and family who seemed to make little or no allowance for her upbringing and couldn't wait to get rid of her.
But then as jennifer has pointed out elsewhere, Eustacia was almost a feral child - no emotions (except anger when thwarted), no feelings for other people, no knowledge of how to interact with people. OK, that's not her fault, it's probably a behaviourist upbringing and is her parents' fault, but I think she must have been pretty impossible to deal with, to be honest. We also don't know what the relationship has been between Mr & Mrs Trevanion and Prof and Dr Benson - it's obviously non-existent, and has been for years, but there may have been more unhappiness to it.

Gerry, on the other hand, is almost the opposite when introduced to us: warm-hearted, generous, wanting to meet people and expand her horizons, wanting to fit in. I'm struck that EMBD never again had a storyline as personally bleak as the one in Eustacia, but was quite happy to revisit the basic premise of Gerry in Jo Returns, where Polly Heriot is perhaps a more realistic and more fully developed version of 'old fashioned girl brings herself up to date'. Yes, Polly shares all Gerry's sympathy and warmth of character, but she's not without her faults, and EMBD isn't shy of showing them to us, whereas in this book I think it was more important to her that we like Gerry. And that's understandable for a young author with her first published book.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 20 Apr 2018, 23:49 
Offline
Taking your duties seriously
Taking your duties seriously
User avatar

Joined: 03 Jan 2010, 22:35
Posts: 2033
Location: Berkshire, England
Gerry was dedicated to Hazel Bainbridge, who EBD regarded as an adopted younger sister (like Joey and Robin). I wonder how much of Gerry's character was based on Hazel's, though obviously not her circumstances or old-fashioned upbringing.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 22 Apr 2018, 05:50 
Offline
Receiving support from the form
Receiving support from the form
User avatar

Joined: 25 Feb 2007, 15:45
Posts: 649
Location: Australia
jennifer wrote:
I don't like Jill, and I don't buy that she and Gerry would become best friends. I've been bullied at that age, and I just can't picture going from making sure I was in earshot of an adult when the bully was around, so they couldn't get at me, to being friends with them. And that was just at school - I didn't have to live with them, and have them waking me up in the middle of the night to torment me!


Jill is bad but nowhere close to as bad as Jack Lambert for instance who bullies Jane much more badly and pretty much gets away with it.

And her family don't make allowances for her - Nell and Paul both scold her for her attitude to Gerry, and her mother and Margaret both know what is going on. One hopes that if it came to even worse bullying the family would step in and that keeps her in check.

Jill does apologise and wants desperately to make up for her behaviour so I can actually them eventually becoming friends.

_________________
It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how - Dr Seuss


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2018, 16:08 
Offline
Attending a prees' meeting
Attending a prees' meeting
User avatar

Joined: 21 Jul 2012, 16:53
Posts: 3100
Location: West London Alps
jennifer wrote:
What about the first appearance of some EBD staples - the old-fashioned girl, the inexplicable jealous feud, the sudden engagement, the dramatic ice rescue. And, of course, the first appearance of "gray, still, and to all appearance dead".
Yes, it's interesting to see all those get a first outing, along with the 'Splasheries' and the splendidly-appointed Geography rooms (as has been pointed out before) and quite a collection of what one feels are among EMBD's favourite name choices for characters: Peggy, Gillian, Paul, Con, Tessa, Nell, Geoff...

Clearly this wasn't EMBD's first effort at writing - it sounds as though Jo's comment in Jo Returns might well be autobiographical when she says "Goodness knows I've begun piles in my time; but this is the first I've ever finished" - but she could scarcely have known just how many other books she would write and have published, so it seems a reasonable supposition that she would choose to have things as she really preferred in this first book. The ideal family, the ideal school...

Edited for clarity and then to say so!


Last edited by Noreen on 23 Apr 2018, 17:52, edited 2 times in total.

Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Gerry Goes to School
PostPosted: 23 Apr 2018, 17:14 
Offline
Taking your duties seriously
Taking your duties seriously
User avatar

Joined: 03 Jan 2010, 22:35
Posts: 2033
Location: Berkshire, England
We also get a few EBD-isms. On p 174 the 16 prefects gather and she goes on to name them and their roles, but she only gives 15 names, as we know her maths desn't improve with later books. There's also a reference which I can't find now flipping through to a girl called Gertrude Trevennor who is not one of the rectory children but a few pages earlier her name is given as Trevenna.
Another first appearance is a small girl - Betty Trevennor - who, like Con Maynard later, is very fond of sugar


Top | End
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 

Board index .:|:. Slogging at Lessons :: Books .:|:. Special Sixth
It is currently 20 Aug 2018, 23:46

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group