Login   Register     FAQ    Members

View unanswered posts   View active topics


Board index .:|:. Slogging at Lessons :: Books .:|:. Special Sixth
It is currently 17 Dec 2018, 11:42

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: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2018, 01:37 
Offline
Dashing off for your part in the play
Dashing off for your part in the play

Joined: 30 Jan 2004, 00:07
Posts: 1014
Location: Taiwan
Monica Turns Up Trumps

This book, published in 1949, tells the story of Monica Marilliar and her family, as Monica is removed from her boarding school following a bad report, and has to attend a day school, along with two newly arrived cousins. Monica, her cousins, and various other classmates later attend the Chalet School.

We start off the book with a scene between fourteen year old Monica and her doctor father, regarding her report from boarding school. Her academic performance has been falling for the past few terms, and her deportment as well, and promises to do better have not helped. Her father informs her that she will not be returning to Braemer House, rather, she will attend a day school near their home. The Gables is a small but good school, run by a middle aged Oxford graduate, Miss Cundell. Monica is appalled, particularly as the new school has little in the way of games.

We then get some background. Monica's mother died three years previously, and the family relocated to Medbury not long afterwards. Her mother's much younger sister, Peggy, manages the household, and Monica's older brother, Barney is in his last year of public school, with plans to be a doctor.

The story skips ahead to the first day of school. A rebellious Monica is picked up by Dilys and Myfawny Tudor, the pleasant, ladylike daughters of a local minister. Monica is pretty rude to them, but Dilys understands a bit of her situation, and is forgiving. Monica meets with Miss Cundell, and is dismayed to find out that she knows her former Head, and of Monica's problems.

Monica is assigned to the middle of the school's three forms. Her first day does not go well; Monica is sulky and rebellious, does poorly on assignments, gets caught sketching during math class, and is scornful of the assigned poetry. She meets classmates, including Gwladys Evans, Jocelyn Redford, Clare Danvers and Ernestine Benedict, who don't have much patience with her attitude.

Monica arrives home to another shock. Her two cousins, who have been living in Africa with their family, will be coming to England to attend school and live with the Marilliars. The McNabs moved to Africa when the eldest, Vicky, was three, for the father's health, and now have five children (named after monarchs), nearly sixteen year old Victoria (Vicky), thirteen year old Alexandria (Alixe), plus twins Mary and George (Mollie and Geordie) and baby Edward (Ned). Monica is not happy at the new development.

Monica's second day at school starts as sulky as the first. Miss Cundell has a serious talk with her, and she has a good history lesson. At break she talks games with her classmates, and is invited to join a hockey league. Monica is eager, but her father forbids it until her report improves. Peggy advises a lighter hand with Monica, but Dr Marillar is determined to deal with her sulkiness and
rebellion.

Monica is helped out by a letter from her brother, a level-headed, mature young man who had been briefed on how things were going at home. Soon afterwards they recieve news that the cousins are about to arrive. Barney, home for a visit, discusses Monica's situation with his father, and help the father and daughter see each other's point of view. Things improve - Monica and her aunt go to see Little Women, and Monica's first set of exams goes well.

The cousins then arrive. Vicky is a self assured young woman, very neat in appearance, and used to being her mother's right hand and bossing the younger children; she plans to be a 'real elder sister' to the younger Monica. Alixe is a pretty, shy girl, who loves reading. Vicky envies Monica her lovely room and modest but pretty jewelry; life on the farm in Africa tended to be cash straped and very utilitarian. Later that night, Monica sneaks in to comfort the homesick Alixe, who is crying herself to sleep.

The next Monday the cousins go to school; the doctor has outfitted the girls more elaborately than they are used to, tactfully supplementing the available budget. Vicky, clever and confident, is looking forward to school, while the painfully shy Alixe is more nervous. Vicky meets her schoolmates, including Dilys Tudor and Gwladys Evans. Monica has a dust up in English; her former teacher had loathed and ridiculed the works of Longfellow, and Monica is openly contemptuous of the current lesson. She is held back for rudeness, and then for insubordination when she tries to insist on helping Alixe. Miss Cundell sorts things out, comforts Alixe, and helps the English mistress see where the problems came from.

There are problems at home, as well. Vicky is used to being the authority, rather than being under authority, and there are clashes when she tries to manage Monica. She sneaks in to see Alixe, ill with a cold, and is reprimanded by Peggy. Later, Vicky insists on pulling an expensive table next to the fire. Monica desperately tries to prevent damage to the table, and Vicky deliberately damages a valuable fire screen. Monica is devastated, as the screen was made by her mother, and Dr Marilliar, breaking in on the scene, dumbfounded.

Vicky gets in trouble, and is highly indignant at being reprimanded. The next day, she gets in trouble over cleaning up a puzzle, and has a tantrum. Monica tries to apologize over an argument, but is rebuffed.

The next chapter is a series of letters over the situation; Vicky and Alixe to their mother with responses, and Dr Marilliar to his sister and back. Mrs McNab tells Alixe that she's allowed to be friends with Monica and should look to her aunt and uncle for authority. She tells Vicky to back off the bossiness and let the adults manage things (and to not interfere with Monica and Alixe). Dr Marilliar is to act as he sees fit, as part of Vicky's attitude is due to being overly relied on at home.

Meanwhile, Monica is doing much better at school. The girls get invitations; Alixe and Monica to one party, and Vicky to another more grown-up one. Vicky takes Monica's beads to wear at the party, without permisison, and loses them. She looks everywhere, when but Monica discovers they are gone, admits she took them. Monica is furious, Peggy angry and Alixe devastated, but Monica promises not to tell her father, for Alixe's sake. Things are pretty tense at home for the next week.

The term ends, and Monica spends the day in town with her father, where they meet up with Barney; Peggy intervenes to give Monica the day alone with her brother and father. Monica's report is good, and she is given permission to join hockey. Barney and Monica talk over the situation, and Barney gives advice. They arrive home to discover that the necklace has been found. Monica decides to give Vicky the beads for Christmas.

------

In the CS: That spring, the McNab parents are killed in a thunderstorm and the other children come to England. Miss Cundell's school closes later that year, and Monica, Vicky and Alixe join the CS when it moves to Armiford (Mollie joins some time later). Myfanwy Tudor and her younger sister, Gwladys and Gwen Evans, Jocelyn Redford, Clare Danvers and Ernestine Benedict also join the school. Dilys Tudor gets a scholarship to Oxford.

Vicky trains as a doctor, Monica is Games Prefect and plans to be a Games mistress. The family (and the other transfer students) mostly disappear from the series after Gay from China.

----

What do you think of this story, and how does it compare to the similar in plot Heather Leaves School? What about Dr Marilliar's parenting style, and the role of Barney and Peggy? Any opinions on the Marilliars and McNabs and others in the Chalet series?

_________________


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: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2018, 07:35 
Offline
Rescuing a Junior from the lake
Rescuing a Junior from the lake
User avatar

Joined: 15 Oct 2004, 13:57
Posts: 7972
Location: Manchester
I like this one. I particularly like Peggy Primrose - unlike the various other aunts and cousins who are called on to look after motherless children, she seems to have an active social life and to enjoy herself outside the home. I also like the brother-sister relationship, something EBD's not big on usually, between Monica and Barney - and I also like the fact that boys are invited to the party which Vicky attends, which seems very relaxed and normal. Everything is sorted out without any preaching or melodrama, and all three of the girls are realistic characters. Definitely one of the best non-Chalet EBDS, IMHO!

_________________
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: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2018, 15:28 
Offline
Learning to stand on your own two feet
Learning to stand on your own two feet
User avatar

Joined: 23 Sep 2004, 21:57
Posts: 662
Location: UP NORTH
I might say 'poor Peggy Primrose' with eventually five extra children to look after! Is she related to the McNabs - not that that matters in Chalet-Land. I find Vicky fairly obnoxious - the interfering, the fire-screen and the beads business.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2018, 15:40 
Offline
Deciding to learn Russian
Deciding to learn Russian
User avatar

Joined: 03 Jan 2010, 22:35
Posts: 2317
Location: Berkshire, England
I think the McNabs' mother is sister to Dr Marilliar, so if Peggy is Monica's mother's sister, no Peggy is not actually related to them just a connection through the marriage of her sister to Mrs McNab's brother. It was all very well taking on Vicky and Alixe, both teenagers, but having the younger ones the following year was a big ask, can't remember how much younger but I think about 4/5 years between Alixe and th twins, then presumably a couple of years before Ned, so still children that needed a lot of care and attention, particularly in view of the circumstances. Hope she had some extra help in the house by then!


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 14 Aug 2018, 21:19 
Offline
Horror! New girl criticises school!
Horror! New girl criticises school!
User avatar

Joined: 20 Jan 2004, 00:18
Posts: 1750
Location: Ireland
This story always reminds me of Stepsisters for Lorna as well.

_________________
Read all about my travels in South America...


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2018, 17:23 
Offline
Giving a Junior an order mark
Giving a Junior an order mark
User avatar

Joined: 21 Jul 2012, 16:53
Posts: 3307
Location: West London Alps
I agree that this is one of the better non-CS books, and I like the fact that we get to see more of Monica when she joins the Chalet School - though I don't think Miss Cundell sounds at all the sort of person to just give up her school a couple of years after this (in Goes to It) when teaching is so obviously her vocation and she's used to being in charge and running things in her own rather individual way. As she apparently gave the parents two years notice, it's not because of the war, either; nor is she retiring age, as she seems to be a contemporary of Lucia McNab. As it is, I like to think she went off and did something splendid for the war effort.

I do think Vicky is an interesting character - a warmer version of Eustacia Benson Mark I, it struck me, with her intelligence and superiority complex. And I'm not absolutely sure it was tactful of Monica to give her the Venetian beads as a Christmas present at the end - wouldn't it always remind her of how upset she'd been?

As a footnote, full marks to EMBD for obscure knowledge: Dr Marilliar's house is covered in a creeper called ampelopsis, which I had never heard of, and had to look up. I can't think it was ever commonplace, so I wonder whether she perhaps knew somebody who had one.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2018, 18:24 
Offline
Order Mark!
Order Mark!
User avatar

Joined: 03 May 2008, 15:51
Posts: 184
Location: London
Kate wrote:
As a footnote, full marks to EMBD for obscure knowledge: Dr Marilliar's house is covered in a creeper called ampelopsis, which I had never heard of, and had to look up. I can't think it was ever commonplace, so I wonder whether she perhaps knew somebody who had one.


Doesn't it turn up in one of the Lord Peter short stories when a social climber is referred to an ampelopsis?

_________________
"Lack of planning on your part does not necessarily mean an emergency on mine"

"Association does not infer causality"


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 18 Aug 2018, 21:16 
Offline
Order Mark!
Order Mark!
User avatar

Joined: 03 May 2008, 15:51
Posts: 184
Location: London
judithR wrote:
Doesn't it turn up in one of the Lord Peter short stories when a social climber is referred to an ampelopsis?


Have now found the reference in "The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker" in the ss collection "Lord Peter Views the Body"

though I suspect that EBD hadn't read DLS.

_________________
"Lack of planning on your part does not necessarily mean an emergency on mine"

"Association does not infer causality"


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 01:22 
Offline
Being rude to your sheepdog

Joined: 01 Apr 2018, 03:39
Posts: 46
Thank you very much for this synopsis! I gulped it down, marvelling at how plotty and character-filled the book (which I hadn't heard of previously) seemed to be.

jennifer wrote:
What do you think of this story, and how does it compare to the similar in plot Heather Leaves School? What about Dr Marilliar's parenting style, and the role of Barney and Peggy? Any opinions on the Marilliars and McNabs and others in the Chalet series?

The boarding-school to day-school theme is an interesting one; the only other book I can think of featuring it is That Boarding-School Girl by DFB, which also finally returns the transplanted main character to the [implied more desirable] boarding-school environment. In both the day-schools are also good schools, just not as good.

Peggy's role is interesting, and depressing. The part where she knows about the necklace at the same time as Dr Marilliar is being kept in the dark about it sounds horribly uncomfortable. It places her as one of the children, almost, not a co-parenting figure - it seems her opinions have about as much weight as Barney's, or maybe a bit less.
How old is she? I have a fear that her social life is being absolutely blasted to ribbons by her Marilliar/McNab "responsibilities", and that she'll end up being treated as something of a boring old family encumbrance. (Like Aunt Izzie in What Katy Did - the only future the author could see there, once Katy was old enough and reformed enough to boss the household servants, was to kill her off.)

Speaking of futures, Vicki sounds like she'd make a horribly bossy doctor - and one who wouldn't take responsibility for her mistakes, to boot!

Is Medbury in Wales? There seem to be many very Welsh names in the school.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 07:43 
Offline
Rescuing a Junior from the lake
Rescuing a Junior from the lake
User avatar

Joined: 15 Oct 2004, 13:57
Posts: 7972
Location: Manchester
Medbury is Ledbury is Herefordshire, about 15 miles from Hereford aka Armiford ... 15 miles further into England, but still close to the Welsh border.

_________________
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: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 19 Aug 2018, 09:43 
Offline
Giving a Junior an order mark
Giving a Junior an order mark
User avatar

Joined: 21 Jul 2012, 16:53
Posts: 3307
Location: West London Alps
Housemate wrote:
Peggy's role is interesting, and depressing. The part where she knows about the necklace at the same time as Dr Marilliar is being kept in the dark about it sounds horribly uncomfortable. It places her as one of the children, almost, not a co-parenting figure - it seems her opinions have about as much weight as Barney's, or maybe a bit less.
How old is she? I have a fear that her social life is being absolutely blasted to ribbons by her Marilliar/McNab "responsibilities", and that she'll end up being treated as something of a boring old family encumbrance. (Like Aunt Izzie in What Katy Did - the only future the author could see there, once Katy was old enough and reformed enough to boss the household servants, was to kill her off.)
Peggy is twenty-four - Monica is fourteen, and we're told in the text that Peggy is "only ten years older than Monica herself and less than six years older than Barnabas [Barney]" - also that three years earlier, Monica had been sent to boarding school "where she would get the discipline that Peggy Primrose was too young to administer", so she's not exactly a martinet in the style of Aunt Izzie, more like on about page five of 'how to be an adult aunt'. :D

Not that EMBD would be shy of killing Peggy off if she thought it would further the plot, especially as she most ruthlessly removes Vicky and Alixe's parents retrospectively in Lavender Laughs at the CS (they were apparently killed in a thunderstorm in Kenya four months after the end of this book, which means that the two girls never saw their parents again). Peggy sounds like someone who likes to keep busy - she evidently does church work as well, and three or four years later, during the war, takes on quite a lot of voluntary work, including two nights a week fire-watching!

ETA: thanks for the "Lord Peter Views the Body" reference, judithr: I must have read round the word in that, just as I'd previously done with Monica!


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 01:17 
Offline
Dashing off for your part in the play
Dashing off for your part in the play

Joined: 30 Jan 2004, 00:07
Posts: 1014
Location: Taiwan
There's a bit where Peggy is considering cancelling a social engagement just after the girls arrive, and Dr Marilliar insists that she should still go. I don't see her position as being that dire - Dr Marilliar is a bit authoritative towards her, but she is still pretty young, and he generally trusts her judgement, and isn't heaping responsibilities on her at the expense of her own life. I think she hides the necklace issue for Vicky's sake, because Dr Marilliar would be horrified if he found out. He notices something is wrong, but trusts Peggy to handle it. And she does seem to keep pretty busy outside of household duties - in Lavender she's volunteering extensively for the war.

From Lavender we can work out that the kids were sixteen, fourteen, ten, ten and seven when the younger ones arrived, so no babies, but it would have been pretty hectic until they were packed off to boarding school a year later.

I feel sorry for Vicky, even though she's totally obnoxious. She's used to being, basically, in Peggy's position - one of the adults who is expected to look after the younger kids. And then she's pitched into another country and family, where she's expected to be an adolescent under authority. And she lacks the maturity and judgement to understand what's going on (like in her determination to be a bossy big sister to Monica). She's not feral the way Eustacia was, but she's a bit stiff socially, ambitious, and comes across as feeling rather superior to others.

Oh, and EBD definitely read Sayers - she references Busman's Honeymoon directly in The CS Goes to the Oberland.

_________________


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: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 11:48 
Offline
Deciding to learn Russian
Deciding to learn Russian
User avatar

Joined: 03 Jan 2010, 22:35
Posts: 2317
Location: Berkshire, England
jennifer wrote:
I feel sorry for Vicky, even though she's totally obnoxious. She's used to being, basically, in Peggy's position - one of the adults who is expected to look after the younger kids. And then she's pitched into another country and family, where she's expected to be an adolescent under authority. And she lacks the maturity and judgement to understand what's going on (like in her determination to be a bossy big sister to Monica). She's not feral the way Eustacia was, but she's a bit stiff socially, ambitious, and comes across as feeling rather superior to others.

.


Similar position to Cressie in Heather leaves school who is used to running parish affairs for her father and looking after/bossing her younger sisters, though she's only in a different position in daytime rsther than living with Heather and family as Vicky does.


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 12:17 
Offline
Order Mark!
Order Mark!
User avatar

Joined: 03 May 2008, 15:51
Posts: 184
Location: London
jennifer wrote:
Oh, and EBD definitely read Sayers - she references Busman's Honeymoon directly in The CS Goes to the Oberland.


Missed that. I wonder how much went completely over her head? Like bits of Strong Poison (and I don't mean Harriet living with her lover).

_________________
"Lack of planning on your part does not necessarily mean an emergency on mine"

"Association does not infer causality"


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 12:40 
Offline
Sub-prefect!
Sub-prefect!
User avatar

Joined: 13 Aug 2009, 18:41
Posts: 2997
Location: Czech Republic and Herts UK
judithR wrote:
I wonder how much went completely over her head? Like bits of Strong Poison (and I don't mean Harriet living with her lover).

I am not sure why any of it would have gone over her head? Just because she doesn't choose to write about certain things, or even acknowledge their existence, doesn't mean she isn't fully aware of their meaning.

I wouldn't write (or read) horror or porn stories for example but I can understand both genres perfectly well...

_________________
Cestina's dolls houses - I can't bear Christmas....


Top | End
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Monica Turns Up Trumps
PostPosted: 24 Aug 2018, 20:15 
Offline
Receiving support from the form
Receiving support from the form
User avatar

Joined: 17 Nov 2005, 21:21
Posts: 641
Location: On the sofa
cestina wrote:
I am not sure why any of it would have gone over her head? Just because she doesn't choose to write about certain things, or even acknowledge their existence, doesn't mean she isn't fully aware of their meaning.

I wouldn't write (or read) horror or porn stories for example but I can understand both genres perfectly well...


I do wish these boards had a "Like" button!

What I like about this book is that it shows that EBD realised that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to school. Monica, like Heather, isn't doing well at a big school, but needs the individual attention that only a small school can provide. Lorna, on the other hand, doesn't do so well as a big fish in a small pond, and needs a larger school to allow her to flourish.


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 17 Dec 2018, 11:42

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 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