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Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
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Author:  andi [ 26 Apr 2019, 16:30 ]
Post subject:  Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

I’ve been doing a re-read and as usual started to lose interest halfway through the Swiss books, around Richenda. Thinking about this I realised that for me, this is the point where the bigger story of the school stops moving forward and just starts to repeat itself. For all the books before Richenda, I can make a fair guess at which book comes next based on what happens in the book I’m reading, but after Richenda, I have to consult the list to have any idea which book comes next.

It seems to me that after that point, the books could be pretty much read in any order and it wouldn’t make much difference. There are a few exceptions e.g Joey and Co/Ruey, but mainly it’s just a set of books about individual characters who aren’t really that interesting. What makes the early part of the series for me is the development of characters over several books and that just doesn’t happen later on. Anyone else have a point where the series loses interest for them?

Author:  Lotte [ 26 Apr 2019, 21:15 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

The CS was never the same once Mary-Lou left.

Author:  Alison H [ 26 Apr 2019, 21:49 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

I think Theodora's quite a good book, but I feel that there's a decline after that. There was so much focus on Mary-Lou's gang and the triplets' gang that other age/form groups weren't really developed. I think the answer would have been to make Ailie, Janice and Judy, whose families we'd known for years, central characters, but instead we get Jack Lambert, whom most people dislike, and some obscure groups like "The Crew". And plots get repeated - the feud with another school, the pranks played on the school by a gang of kids, and so on.

Jane isn't bad, and I don't mind Adrienne, but I never feel that I know the characters properly - people just appear!

Author:  Nyota [ 26 Apr 2019, 22:33 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Lotte wrote:
The CS was never the same once Mary-Lou left.


I agree completely. The series takes a real nosedive after Theodora, with silly storylines and unbelievable situations. Of the later Swiss books, Copper, Jane and Adrienne could have been interesting strong characters, but they vanish like the famous mist in the sun. I struggle in reading the last few books because they are so bland.

Author:  Aquabird [ 27 Apr 2019, 13:13 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Theodora is the turning point for me as well. There are flashes of good bits and some potentially interesting characters in the books after that, but they don't really follow through. For me it's a combination of factors rather than one particular thing that causes the big drop in quality:
The loss of Mary-Lou. Love her or hate her, she leaps off the pages.
Neither Len nor Jack Lambert, the two big characters in this era, make me want to read about them for twenty-odd books. I like Len and she's a very nice, sensible girl that I'd have liked for a friend, but as a character I think she's too bland to be a main protagonist over so many books. Jack is just a nasty little bully, she makes Jane in particular an unpleasant read.
The school remaining at the Platz for nearly 30 books, meaning a lot of the rambles and expeditions get repeated.
The real world moving into the 1960s but EBD herself remaining in a pre-WW2 mindset.
And EBD understandably running out of enthusiasm and ideas after 40+ books. I definitely got a 'going through the motions' vibe from the last six or seven books when doing the discussion threads.

Author:  NanaG [ 27 Apr 2019, 16:09 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Personally I don’t read beyond the move to the Oberland. I think EBD lost it once she began to write about places she had never been and relied too much on guide books to fill in gaps in her experience. She missed, for me, the opportunity to develop characters from other countries and relied on themes she had done so well before. For me, the Oberland books just don’t have the emotional appeal of the earlier ones, even though I actually read those later ones first, being the right age in the 50’s and 60’s.
Another factor is I think I can identify with the books set in real places- but the Oberland books are never real to me.

Author:  Alison H [ 27 Apr 2019, 19:09 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Also, by the last years of the series there are four books for every academic year. In the Tyrolean and British years, we often skip at least a term. It means that we're going through the same pattern of nativity plays, sales and pantomimes over and over. That's life, and you do find yourself doing the same thing every year, but it gets rather repetitive when it's in books! It doesn't help that the triplets are put into Inter V when they're 12, and spend 6 years being seniors!

Author:  bythebrook [ 28 Apr 2019, 03:19 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

NanaG wrote:
Personally I don’t read beyond the move to the Oberland. I think EBD lost it once she began to write about places she had never been and relied too much on guide books to fill in gaps in her experience.


I wonder why she didn't travel during the Oberland years? She had given up her school by then, and was writing full-time. Considering that she did travel to Austria and the Channel Islands when she was much younger, what changed when she got older to stop her researching her books properly?

Author:  jennifer [ 29 Apr 2019, 01:03 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

I think you're onto a good point, andi.

The earlier 2/3 of the series has a strong sense of both time and place - the establishment and growth of the school, the opening of the San/Annexe, the opening and closing of St Scholasticas, the moves to Guernsey, Armiford, St Briaval's, Switzerland, the establishment of the finishing school, the plus the age of Joey and the age/number of her offspring, and the arriving/leaving of mistresses.

The last notable new mistress is Kathy Ferrars, the last notable mistress to leave is Biddy O'Ryan, the last notable new major character is Jack Lambert (in Leader), the last major character to leave is Mary-Lou (after Theodora), the last major change to school facilities is opening the kindergarten (in Ruey). By Ruey the triplets have pretty much settled into responsible senior-ness, and remain in that state for the rest of the series, but the younger Maynards aren't playing a role in the school story. Most of the Bettany and La Rochelle clans have left (we have the triplets, Ailie, Judy and Janice left, plus Josette and Maeve as prefects for a few books). Joey has her last babies in Theodora, and adopts the Richardsons shortly thereafter (yes, she adopts two more random children in Summer Term, but they don't make much impact after that book). Also, there are 8 books covering Joey as a senior, and 22 with the triplets! So yeah, there really aren't many changes to the setting in the last dozen books.

For me, the point when I get bored on a read-through is about at A Future Chalet Girl, it's the last couple of years of books where I get mixed up in order. I can never remember which comes first, Adrienne or Jane, or Redheads and Two Sams.

Author:  Alison H [ 29 Apr 2019, 07:14 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

The school becomes so insular, as well. When Kathie is ill and they insist that they have to get an Old Girl rather than an outsider to cover, it says it all! Joey, who's supposed to make friends so easily, only makes one new friend in Switzerland, and that's Winnie Embury who's already connected to the school. Local people barely feature at all - compare the way we get to know the Pfeifen family, and even see Marie and Andreas's wedding, to the way we never even learn Rosli's surname, even though she's been working with the Maynards for 8 years by the end of the series!

I think EBD did try to shake things up a bit with Redheads, and Jack's gang's a move back to the multinational feeling of the early books, so she did have a go, but it didn't really work.

Author:  Lotte [ 12 May 2019, 12:00 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

I recently bought the GGBP edition of The Chalet School and Jo, and there's such a contrast to the Swiss books, especially the Oberammergau chapter (and I've got more of a sense of the place now that I've actually been there). It feels so real and alive.

Author:  jennifer [ 04 Jun 2019, 07:35 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

I think EBD had actually been to Austria on vacation, so she was writing from fond memory, probably augmented by reference books for details. And the descriptions sparkle as a result - you get real sense of place. She had never been to Switzerland, and the descriptions there read like excerpts from travel Guides and history texts.

Author:  mynameisdumbnuts [ 05 Jun 2019, 15:22 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Theodora is the turning point for me, too. I think she's a strong character with a real personality. She stands out among the other Swiss plots involving a new girl in need of reform and an old girl who has jealousy issues.

Author:  Alison H [ 05 Jun 2019, 16:04 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

I'm currently reading The Gilded Chalet by Padraig Rooney, about books set in Switzerland. I don't think he's actually read any of the CS books because he seems to have some rather odd ideas about them, but he says that they gave generations of girls a romantic image of Switzerland … and, thinking about, I've got a romantic image of Tyrol (despite the war) but I don't think I have of Switzerland. Just a thought :D .

Author:  Lottie [ 05 Jun 2019, 17:50 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

That sounds more like an idea which might come from reading Mabel Esther Allan's Swiss books. I'm not sure how many of hers are set in Switzerland, but I think she did actually visit the country, and the word pictures she paints of Kandersteg seem very true to life, allowing for the difference of fifty or so years.

Author:  KB [ 06 Jun 2019, 20:03 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Alison H wrote:
I'm currently reading The Gilded Chalet by Padraig Rooney, about books set in Switzerland. I don't think he's actually read any of the CS books because he seems to have some rather odd ideas about them, but he says that they gave generations of girls a romantic image of Switzerland … and, thinking about, I've got a romantic image of Tyrol (despite the war) but I don't think I have of Switzerland. Just a thought :D .


I'm sure he didn't! He talks about the girls getting crushes on their male instructors!!

Author:  Alison H [ 06 Jun 2019, 20:25 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

That's the one :lol: . The girls apparently all have crushes on their French mistresses and their male ski-instructors. He's obviously found some CS books the rest of us don't know about.

Author:  Mel [ 06 Jun 2019, 20:43 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Was that part illustrated with CS covers? I have browsed the book and can't remember which ones - but have a feeling they were not Swiss.

Author:  Alison H [ 06 Jun 2019, 21:07 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

They were from the Tyrol books!

Maybe crushes on ski instructors would have made the later Swiss books a bit more interesting :lol: . Or maybe everything gets too prissy, and that's part of the problem ... although I think that starts earlier, with everyone making a huge fuss over the slang prank in Peggy, when it was just laughed off in the early days.

Although there are no ski instructors :lol:, new staff appear and I don't feel that we know them, the same as I don't feel that we know the new girls in the later book. Miss Stone, for example.

Author:  Lotte [ 07 Jun 2019, 13:58 ]
Post subject:  Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?

Alison H wrote:
They were from the Tyrol books!

Maybe crushes on ski instructors would have made the later Swiss books a bit more interesting :lol: . Or maybe everything gets too prissy, and that's part of the problem ... although I think that starts earlier, with everyone making a huge fuss over the slang prank in Peggy, when it was just laughed off in the early days.

Although there are no ski instructors :lol:, new staff appear and I don't feel that we know them, the same as I don't feel that we know the new girls in the later book. Miss Stone, for example.

I've not read Peggy but I know about the slang prank, and how she made the girls take boring walks and eat bread without jam as punishment, and I think she was being a bit unfair. Madge at least saw the funny side of the Shakespeare and just told Joey to pack it in, and she was the actual headmistress. No wonder the girls are more scared of the prefects' wrath!

The teachers in the Swiss books are pretty identikit compared to the older ones, I agree, bar a few like Mlle de Lachenais or Miss Ferrars.

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