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 Post subject: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2018, 01:50 
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Dashing off for your part in the play
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The last of the three Chalet related origin stories is Chudleigh Hold, an adventure story with a mildly disguised Gillian Culver and her family, published in 1954. The orphaned Chudleigh siblings deal with a mysterious cousin who comes to visit, as well as their eccentric great aunt. As with The Lost Staircase, I've skipped over the bits of convoluted family history, which are all about people named Godfrey, Jeremy and Merrill (plus smugglers).


The seven Chudleigh siblings are orphans, under the guardianship of their eldest brother, Godfrey, who is only in his mid-twenties. Their mother died seven years ago, when the youngest was born, their father a few years before in an auto accident. Godfrey, the eldest, is a responsible young man who takes his guardianship seriously, and is worried about family finances (land-rich, cash-poor, death-duties). Merle, 21, is a sensible, self-possessed young woman who has been mothering the family since her own mother's death. Cherry and Charles are nineteen year old twins; Cherry is a stunningly beautiful young woman, pragmatic and unimaginative, while Charles, an intelligent, sensitive young man, was lamed in the accident which killed his father. Peregrine (Hawk) is a quiet but perceptive young man of seventeen and sixteen year old Ven is a good-natured, impulsive, musical girl. Arminel (Crumpet) at twelve is a sensitive, rather high-strung girl prone to nightmares, and angelic looking Ben, seven, rounds off the family.

We meet the family at breakfast on Merle's birthday. Godfrey gets an unusual letter from a young women who signs her self "Cousin Merrill". She claims to be the only child of their uncle Miles, who was disowned after forging cheques, and a Swiss woman. Miles died a few years previously, and she wants to visit the family. She has passed documentation to the family lawyer to back up her claim. We then meet Nanny, an old family retainer, as she is told the news, and Merle finishes unwrapping her presents.

The family heads out to the beach to spend a day in swimming and picnicking. They meet a hiker with a faint foreign accent and the air of a sailor who asks for directions. Several of the older kids make a shocking discovery when they swim into a hidden cavern; there is oil on the water, indicating someone had beenn in there.

Some time later couisn Merrill arrives for a visit. She is effusively friendly, dressed in rather loud clothing, and looks nothing like the family. Meanwhile, Ben, tired of being teased about his angelic chestnut curls (Nanny's pride), shows up with a self-inflicted haircut.

Merrill is shown around the old house, and is impressed by the valuable paintings, furniture, and china, and disappointed that the family jewels are in the bank. That night there is a storm, and the cavern is whistling in the wind, an eerie sound that frightens Merrill.

A month later Geoffrey has startling news for Merle; he will be travelling to South America with a family friend, to see if he can sell some of the family's prize cattle to help with finances. Merrill is still visiting, but is planning on leaving soon, and Miss Hilton, the governess who teaches the girls, is about to arrive back. However, Merrill's family has mumps and she asks to stay for longer. Cherry is infatuated with Merrill, but the older two aren't that keen on her. Godrey has a chat with Cherry, warning her to lay off Crumpet (towards whom she is sharp-tongued and unsympathetic), and to let Merrill go home at the end of the extra month. Cherry is vocally disappointed; she has been fancying Merrill as Godfrey's wife, but he is disgusted by her assumptions.

The boys head off to school, and the girls start lessons. Merle gets a letter from their eccentric Auntie M, who announces that she's sold their house and will be coming to visit for a few months. Following her instructions, they prepare to clear the south wing for her use, which includes the room Merrill has been staying in, to Merrill's vocal dismay. Auntie M. is well liked by the Chudleighs, but is known for being eccentric and strong willed. Her fiance was killed in a riding accident on the way to the wedding, and she has been single ever since. Nanny has known her since before that day, and the two are fond of each other.

That night, Crumpet wakes up to hear someone prowling about the house. She investigate and discovers that it's Merrill, sneaking outside with a torch. The next day another Auntie M. letter arrives, announcing that she'll be here that day. The family spends a frantic day preparing. The car arrives later that day, with Miss Molesley, Auntie M.'s hired companion. Auntie M. has decided to come down on the truck with the furniture.

Miss Molesley was the only child of a poor vicar, who had been orphaned at age nineteen, and left penniless and without job skills or a decent education. She has worked a series of dreary jobs as a companion before being hired by Auntie M. She is a nervous, timid woman, who was expecting to be blamed for her employer's whim; she is shocked when the family reacts with amusement, and treats her with attentive courtesy. Auntie M.'s other two servants will follow; Mrs Morse and Eliza/Jane (whom Auntie M. refuses to call by her given name of Gwendoline). The van soon arrives with Auntie M. and she greets the family with various pointed remarks.

That night Crumpet wakes again, with someone leaving her room. She sneaks out and finds Merrill out wandering again; this time signalling someone from outside. Nanny hears something, and locks the door Merrill left by. The next day, Crumpet hides in the stable to think things over, and think about who to tell. Merle is unlikely to believe that she wasn't dreaming, Cherry is infatuated with Merrill, Charles is lame and shouldn't be worried, and Ven is too impulsive. She overhears Merrill talking with a man; they discuss the previous evening, and a secret passage that can be entered from the bedroom Merrill had stayed in, that is now occupied by Miss Molesley. They also discuss the jewels and valuables; it is obvious that they are planning a theft, although Crumpet doesn't realize this.

That evening, the family spends time with Auntie M. in her rooms. She shocks everyone by offering Charles a cigarette, and taking one herself. She tries to get Miss Molesley to smoke, and suggests she wear slacks. Miss Molesley says that she had a ghost in her room the night before.

The next weekend there is another adventure. Ven, Crumpet and Miss Hilton go to visit Ven's godfather. Meanwhile, the others hear tales about someone signalling from the moor. The first batch are late returning home; a call confirms that they left on time, but that the bus didn't come, so they decided to walk. Cherry is tactless, worrying Merle, and Charles tells her to shut up. Soon afterwards Ven bursts in, dirty and upset.

They had been walking home when they saw someone signalling on the moor. Crumpet ran off to investigate, and recognized the man, a foreigner who had bought part of the property earlier. She also realized this was the man talking to Merrill. Crumpet and Miss Hilton fell down a moor pit, with a sprained ankle for the latter, and Ven ran for help. The others go to rescue them, with help from Auntie M., Mrs Morse and the servants.

A few days later, having heard of burglaries in the neighbourhood, Auntie M. insists on teaching the others to use her revolver. Miss Molesely is sent to the dentist and has all her teeth removed. Crumpet is still watching Merrill, and overhears another conversation about the gun, and realizes that a piece of paper she had found on the moor was a map.

That night, Auntie M. hosts another evening, including Merrill. Hawk appears unexpectedly, sent home from boarding school due to bad drains. Later that night, Crumpet sneaks in to talk to Hawk about her worries, and they make plans to keep watching Merrill. Hawk and Crumpet sneak into Miss Molesley's room to follow Merrill down the secret passage, and encounter Auntie M., who had switched rooms due to the 'ghost'. She insists on joining them, with her revolver. They follow the passage, into a cavern, finding Merrill and a man. Auntie M. fires at the roof to keep them from finding our heroes, with an explosion following soon afterwards. Crumpet runs back to get help, and the other two follow a passage leading to a entrance behind the chimney piece. As all this is happening, Godfrey walks in the door, back from South America.

We finish with a postlude three weeks later. Merill and her accomplice were killed in the cavern collapse triggered by her throwing a hand grenade. Merrill turned out to be Hilda Blaum, a nurse who treated uncle Miles on his deathbed, hearing about the family and house and then plotting theft with stolen documents. The other man was a Russian criminal (who provided a submarine to the plot), and Woodward was in cahoots with them. Auntie M. offers to help buy back the farm that had been sold to cover the death duties.


---

In the CS: Gillian joins the Chalet school at about age fourteen, and is best friends with Gay Lambert and Jacynth Hardy. She finishes as Head Girl, leaves mid-year, visits a married sister in Kenya, takes a secretarial course and returns as secretary to the newly opened finishing branch. Godfrey marries and has a son and a daughter, and has adventures in Argentine (Condor Crags Adventure). Hawk goes off and has adventures as sea (Top Secret). One of the other Culver girls marries and settles in Kenya (probably Merle - there a mention of a neighbour's son she fancies in this book).

----
So, what do you think of EBD as an adventure story writer? Do you like the family dynamics among the Chudleighs, and how they've coped without parents? What about the nefarious Merrill/Hilda, the eccentric Auntie M., and the pathetic Miss Molesley?

As an aside, I thought we might round the discussions off with the short story collection, and maybe a brief discussion of the cook-book and newsletters as a set.

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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



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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2018, 06:49 
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Is there a reason why Arminel/Gillian has different names in different books? I haven't read this one, but I always find it confusing. Lots of characters from other EBD books turn up in the CS books, just as they were in the other books - am I missing something?

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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2018, 07:38 
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Dashing off for your part in the play
Dashing off for your part in the play

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There's a line in Gay from China where Gillian talks about the story and says "Mrs Maynard's going to make it into a book some time, only changing the names, of course". So I assume that Chudleigh and Arminel were the changes.

She mentions the spy pretending to be her cousin, and the episode in the tunnels, as well as Auntie M. In the same book, Hawk is mentioned, as well as Cherry, by appearance and in Hawk's case personality, and the nickname "Crumpet" is mentioned for Gillian. In the CS in the Oberland, Godfrey is mentioned by name. So the CS references line up very well with the story here. There's also one use of the last name Culver in Chudleigh Hold, presumably because search-and-replace didn't exist when writing in those days.

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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



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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2018, 09:41 
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Being taken down a peg or two
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I really should read this book, I brought it when GGBP brought it out, but having read this description I realise I've never opened it (or at least not got out of the first chapter - which isn't me)


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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2018, 13:18 
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jennifer wrote:
There's a line in Gay from China where Gillian talks about the story and says "Mrs Maynard's going to make it into a book some time, only changing the names, of course". So I assume that Chudleigh and Arminel were the changes.

She mentions the spy pretending to be her cousin, and the episode in the tunnels, as well as Auntie M. In the same book, Hawk is mentioned, as well as Cherry, by appearance and in Hawk's case personality, and the nickname "Crumpet" is mentioned for Gillian. In the CS in the Oberland, Godfrey is mentioned by name. So the CS references line up very well with the story here. There's also one use of the last name Culver in Chudleigh Hold, presumably because search-and-replace didn't exist when writing in those days.

I don't remember any of that in Gay, but then I've only read the abridged version. Sounds like another Armada hatchet job. :?


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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2018, 19:21 
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I remember loving the two Chudleigh Hold books I had at home. This makes me want to do a re-read!


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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 08:18 
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I am intrigued by the suggestion that the mother died when the youngest was born, but the father died a few years earlier. Was this the longest pregnancy ever?


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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 11:00 
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Lotte wrote:
jennifer wrote:
There's a line in Gay from China where Gillian talks about the story and says "Mrs Maynard's going to make it into a book some time, only changing the names, of course". So I assume that Chudleigh and Arminel were the changes.

She mentions the spy pretending to be her cousin, and the episode in the tunnels, as well as Auntie M. In the same book, Hawk is mentioned, as well as Cherry, by appearance and in Hawk's case personality, and the nickname "Crumpet" is mentioned for Gillian. In the CS in the Oberland, Godfrey is mentioned by name. So the CS references line up very well with the story here. There's also one use of the last name Culver in Chudleigh Hold, presumably because search-and-replace didn't exist when writing in those days.

I don't remember any of that in Gay, but then I've only read the abridged version. Sounds like another Armada hatchet job. :?


Also mention of Gill's family with names and the story in Mystery of CS. They are talking to Dorcas and I think from memory, (book upstairs) that's when they find out about her film star sister


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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 14:05 
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...and Results
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Supersal wrote:
I am intrigued by the suggestion that the mother died when the youngest was born, but the father died a few years earlier. Was this the longest pregnancy ever?


I believe the intention here was that the father had been killed in a car accident a few years before the story opens, rather than a few years before his wife died.

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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2018, 14:26 
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Supersal wrote:
I am intrigued by the suggestion that the mother died when the youngest was born, but the father died a few years earlier. Was this the longest pregnancy ever?

I'm so glad I'm not the only person to have thought that...

It's some time since I read the book, but I do remember finding Auntie M one of EBD's nicest characters ever!


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 Post subject: Re: Chudleigh Hold
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2018, 14:35 
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I want to read it just because of Auntie M. I love fierce old women characters.


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