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 Post subject: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2010, 20:55 
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Gay from China at the Chalet School was published in 1944, the only Chalet to come out that year, although three Chalet titles had been issued in 1943. There is a synopsis here on the NCC site.

Arguably the biggest change we see is that Miss Bubb is employed to be Headmistress, because of the accident that injured so many of the senior staff. Miss Bubb herself instigates many changes, which are not popular, partly because of the schoolgirls’ natural conservatism, and partly because of her way of bringing them in – this also alienates the staff.

This is a wartime book, and Gay’s life is affected when her brother is posted abroad. Jacynth, whom we meet at the beginning of the book, has to face great changes to her own life, and the family Gay and Jacynth meet on the train are coming to Howells villages to make a big change in their own lives, taking over the village shop.

There is also the event that could be said to change Sybil’s life – the accident with the kettle, which injures Josette.

So what did you think of the changes shown in this book?

    Are they realistic?
    Are there too many ‘accidents’ to be true-to-life? – or are they at least true to CS-world?
    What of the resistance to change shown by the staff and the pupils – are they against change for change sake, or is there some valid reason behind their opposition to Miss Bubb?
    Is Miss Bubb misunderstood?

Please discuss below your reactions to these points – and any others you may wish to raise.

Next week’s book discussion will be on Jane of the Chalet Schoolsynopsis here – considered from the aspect of friendship.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2010, 21:49 
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This is one of my favourite books in the series. i love Gay and Jacynth as characters.

I think Jacynth is very realistically portrayed and her grief for Auntie is one of the most touching scenes in the whole books. I think the change in Nell Wilson, where we see her open up about the death of her family is beautiful and realistic mainly because of everything Nell had gone through that term with the bus accident has shown her the importance of opening up and telling people you care. So the scene certainly seems very natural and appropriate.

In regards to Miss Bubb, I do tend to agree with Madge when she says its better to make changes slowly rather than leap in do it all at once like Miss Bubb tried to. I think Miss Bubb's concern with school work and doing well in her studies is valid, it's the way she went about making the changes which I disagree with. If she had gone about it more slowly, some of the changes she tried to make may have been more acceptable.

I do think the biggest change is with Sybil. I felt really sorry for her but can see how spilling water over her sister would change her life. In as much as it was an accident, I doubt Sybil would ever disobey what her parents had said again. I also think she changed so much from the reaction she got from her family. She learnt the harshest lesson of all, which is parents don't love and forgive everything and neither do people. I can see how she would suddenly want to be the perfect or at least the person people want and expect her to be. Auntie Joey has always said I'm vain, so I better hate my looks. Mother wants me to be more accepting of my cousins living in my home so I better be nicer to them.

In leading from that, I think the change in discipline between Madge and Jem is realistic and interesting. Before that event, it is said Jem rarely disciplined and Madge was the one who pulled them up for being naughty and then after this, it was Jem who was raging and Madge who forgave straight away. I thought it was very realistic that that changed when a child did something that resulted in something more serious. Madge forgave straight away and Jem couldn't. I just think it's a shame and would have been difficult for Madge who was by her potentially dying daughter's bedside and couldn't leave her and see her daughter who was so upset. I wonder how much of this would have changed her feelings towards Jem and Joey and how easy she was able to forgive them, for not being there for Sybil, when Madge couldn't and Sybil needed them the most.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2010, 22:41 
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Were we supposed to know Gay from some other book? I always felt that I'd come in in the middle of the story there.

In terms of change, I guess the moral of the story is that changes approved by the CS ethos we should like (like Jacynth taking up the cello) while those not officially approved of (like Miss Bubb) can be met by quiet insurrection.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2010, 23:11 
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I love this book! It's one of my favourites, definitely. Jacynth is really sweet and I like the way Gay and Gillian look after her.

As regards Miss Bubb, it's fair to say she had a point with placing more of an emphasis on the academic side of school, but the way she goes about it is just dreadful! She just decides what should be done and doesn't consult anyone - not Madge (who does, after all, own the school) nor any of the staff. Nor does she take into consideration the ethos of the school, its background and traditions, and she doesn't think about the way people are likely to feel and react to the changes she wants to make. She knew when she took the post that it was only temporary and she persuades herself that Hilda won't be coming back so she can do whatever she wants.

I'm not sure whether I'd say the staff and girls are justified in their resistance, but from the way Miss Bubb went about things, I'd say it was pretty much inevitable that there would be resistance. It was unfortunate that Madge wasn't able to get to the school, or she'd almost certainly have been able to defuse the situation a bit. As it is, they're bound to react to the changes, especially as they tend to be ones that curb the freedom of the girls and the staff.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2010, 23:21 
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I've got a lot of sympathy for Miss Bubb. I work in an office where any new idea, even if it's clearly something that will improve things or even if it's a result of changes in legislation, is met with "But we've always done things this [stupid, outdated!)] way," and it's so frustrating! I accept that she shouldn't have tried to change so many things at once, without any consultation, but there's a lot of talk in this book and some of the other books about "our little ways" and how the Chalet School is "different" from other schools, and I get the impression that any suggestion from anyone who hadn't been there since Tyrol days would've met with opposition even if it'd been a good one. It's no wonder Pam Slater felt she'd never get the chance to try out her ideas and decided to leave. In Changes, Oberland and Feud, it's made clear that the CS is always better than anywhere else, and it does get quite irritating: I'd like to've seen some acknowledgement that Miss Bubb may have had a point in some areas, or at least that her ideas were worth considering.

I think Miss Bubb's in an impossible position - coming in as a temp at a junior level is hard enough, but being a temporary head must be a nightmare. Everyone seems to've taken against the poor woman before she's even arrived. & I really, really want to thump Jack Maynard when he tells her that she can't stop Gay from going outside - how dare he undermine the acting headmistress in front of a pupil, and what business was it of his anyway? Grrr! & I also want to thump Joey when she tells Nell, who is still recovering from the physical and emotional effects of the accident, that she's got to come back and take over because Miss Bubb is getting on everyone's nerves - poor Nell :shock: .

Rant over :roll:. Having said all that, I do think that this is a really good book. The scenes in which Jacynth learns of her aunt's death and Nell talks about her friendship with Hilda are very touching. &, as Fiona said, the biggest change is with Sybil, who never seems to come to terms with the accident to Josette. & it reflects some of the debates which were current in real life during the '20s and '30s, and to some extent are still being discussed today, especially whether or not exam results be prioritised over other thing and how mothers of young babies cope with going out to work.

I also always feel as if I've come in in the middle of things with Gay's family. I wish EBD'd written a spin-off book about them: their lives sound very dramatic :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 00:00 
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Alison H wrote:

I also always feel as if I've come in in the middle of things with Gay's family. I wish EBD'd written a spin-off book about them: their lives sound very dramatic :lol: .



Chudleigh Hold is Gay's story

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 00:03 
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Sugar wrote:
Alison H wrote:

I also always feel as if I've come in in the middle of things with Gay's family. I wish EBD'd written a spin-off book about them: their lives sound very dramatic :lol: .



Chudleigh Hold is Gay's story


I thought Chudleigh Hold was Gillian's story? Gay is from China and there isn't a China story (as far as I know!). It would have been great to have it, though. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 08:13 
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I wonder a little of Sybil learnt that her family's love was conditional and that, after this incident, she stopped trying to be her own person and modalled herself Peggy in an attempt to be perfect. its also interesting that she chose to get married and stay on the other side of the world from her family on what appears to be the first chance she got.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 10:05 
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Abi wrote:
Sugar wrote:
Alison H wrote:

I also always feel as if I've come in in the middle of things with Gay's family. I wish EBD'd written a spin-off book about them: their lives sound very dramatic :lol: .



Chudleigh Hold is Gay's story


I thought Chudleigh Hold was Gillian's story? Gay is from China and there isn't a China story (as far as I know!). It would have been great to have it, though. :)


Chudleigh Hold is Gill Culver's story. Some years ago the NCC Journal included notes which EBD had written for Gay's story but it doesn't look as though the book itself was actually written.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 11:04 
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Though I have heard a rumour on this board that someone (Ray?) has had a book accepted with GGBP regarding Gay's story. I do think it is a long way off (like a couple of years) from being published though

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 18:12 
I think this is a really good book, with lots of plot and conflict, and some likeable characters, esp Gay and Jacynth. It does tickle me, though, how completely EBD sets Miss Bubb up as Absolutely in the Wrong, even long before we lay eyes on her. Matey describes her 'unpleasant' voice in detail before anyone else meets her, and there's all that stuff about it being Hobson's Choice because of the war, and what Madge says about her at the first Assembly is so cagey that the entire staff and some of the girls are already wondering what can be wrong with her!

But the bit that really stands out as an indication of how entrenched the CS position is, is this conversation between Matey and the mistresses, which sounds as though extra work is the worst thing that could possibly be inflicted on the girls, and will ruin their health!

Quote:
‘It’s also exam term,’ replied Simone de Bersac. ‘Will she expect the girls to put in much extra work? I expect she’ll want to have very good results to show, won’t she?’
‘If she tries that on, I shall have a word or two to say,’ said Matron briskly. ‘Health comes before anything else, and I’m not going to have the health of the school played with, even if it means that the whole lot of them fail, and fail badly. If there’s any talk of extra work, I shall put my foot down at once. And if that won’t do it, I shall send for Dr Jem and see that he stops it.


Get that - it's the previously brilliant student Simone who seems to feel it's unusual/un-CS to expect girls to 'put in extra work' in exam term! And the Matron of a prestigious boarding school is happy to see all exam candidates fail! No one is moved to wonder why on earth it would be assumed that putting in some extra school work is going to have a disastrous effect on anyone's health! It's hardly an either/or situation! :D

It's a pity really - much as I like the Miss Bubb plot, it could have been made much stronger by setting her up as less villainous, and giving the staff fewer negative preconceptions about her in advance - Simone's idea that Miss Bubb's desire for good results is for 'show' seems pretty unfair - any Head wants good exam results! And I'm never quite sure I entirely buy Miss Bubb's burning desire to stay on at the CS, especially as she apparently only took on the job for war-related reasons, after being active in the WVS. (Are we to assume she thought she might be releasing mistresses to work in the services or something?)

But it seems like quite a public-spirited thing to do, especially as she didn't need the money and had been retired for ten years - and from her WVS work, it sounds as if she'd be entirely in support of Digging for Victory and Guides etc at the CS, rather than just work-obsessed ...? There seem to be the materials for a much more well-meaning character there, so it's a pity that she just becomes a baddie and that the moral of the story is 'CS Good - Changes Bad'!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 18:18 
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Miss Bubb is a bit underestimated when no-one knows what she's like except the staff. They shouldn't have put so much empathis on her at the start - even if she is comparative to a dementor, she does deserve a chance. She does have some okay ideas, just not CS fitting ones.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 19:40 
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Unfortunately, I've seen at first hand what happens when new brooms sweep in to a school and try to change everything at once and won't listen to reason. It leaves everyone thoroughly demoralised and not knowing which way to turn - and that in turn affects the pupils.

And after all, Miss Bubb was there as a temporary head, so should have had no reason to interfere in the workings of the school. She was given no remit to do so.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 19:41 
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'Gay' is definitly one of the better books of the seriel. In regards to accidents,I do think that this is the norm for the CS, how many terms go without at least one incident? The accident which involves the mistresses is the trigure that leads to Miss Bubb's employment. She is not misunderstood, I think she misundertands the school; by trying to enforce her own rules, and not understanding that they are a school which puts health first. She was wrong not to let Jacnyth go and see her brother, and therefore her fault Jacnyth took off on her own bat - could she not have gone to one of the mistresses and ask them to intervene? I know Joey Maynard was on staff, so maybe she could have intervened as being the owner's sister - you would think under the circumstances with what had happened to Josette that Joey might have held such power.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 20:32 
MaryR wrote:
And after all, Miss Bubb was there as a temporary head, so should have had no reason to interfere in the workings of the school. She was given no remit to do so.


Well, that's what I mean, really. There's no reason at all for a hastily-hired temporary Head to think she'll be at the school for longer than a term, and she appears to have taken on the job from a desire to do something useful in the war, not from some crazed Bond Villain desire for power - she's been retired for some time, and is financially independent, after all, so she's not even a Miss Slater type, with ideas and ambitions for promotion etc. So there's no particularly realistic reason for her to want to completely reinvent the CS (a school she clearly thinks of as full of workshy wastrels obsessed with games, plays and the state of their lungs!) in her own image.

In fact, in making as many sweeping, unpopular changes as she does, she must know (she's far from a fool, even if she's an unpleasant woman) that she's ruling out any possibility of being retained as Head. If she really wanted a permanent job at the CS, the obvious thing to do would be to pay lipservice to CS traditions until she had a permanent contract, and then, once she had the power, sweep all before her. It just doesn't really add up that an intelligent older woman would think that behaving as she does on a temporary contract is going to lead to the offer of a permanent position! Or why, if she has decided she's tired of being retired, she doesn't find a school more suited to her own ideas, when it's clear she thinks the CS is a bit of a joke, academically speaking! :D

ETA: And I always think, reading it, that it would have been very straightforward for Madge to have Miss B's contract be very explicit about what she was/was not allowed to do - of course, thereby doing away with the plot... :D


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 21:03 
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Like others have said, I don't think the problem is that Miss Bubb tries to make changes as much as that she makes changes because she's trying to usurp Miss Annersley's job! And while they might talk about her not understanding their little ways, etc, EBD makes it clear that Miss Bubb has never worked at a boarding school before and part of the reason behind her incredibly tight leash is that she herself had taught at stricter schools. I mean, yes, she's painted very much as a "villain", but I don't think her actions are without reason; ultimately it's the fact that she just won't listen that makes her the bad guy.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 21:11 
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I'm another who loves this book but I've never really understood the character of Miss Bubb. She's just so misguided. Her ideas in themselves aren't that outrageous (though I do think she goes too far on occasion) but ultimately she's only a temporary head, and as such should really just be tiding them over rather than trying to make big, sweeping changes.

Furthermore, it's very unsettling to have so many changes forced upon you at once, as a pupil or as a teacher, and I can completely understand why the staff and pupils would have been so disgruntled, especially given Miss Bubb's manner etc.

Matey's comment about not caring if all the girls fail their exams does come off as very reactive and over the top to me, but I also think it's understandable and, giving her the benefit of the doubt, have always thought she was being deliberatly hyperbolic there.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 21:24 
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I think that it is a weakness of EBD's that though she can have bad girls who reform, bad staff no - they just have to go i.e Webb, Besley and Bubb.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 22:57 
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Webb, Besley and Bubb sounds like the name of an incompetent ambulance chasing law firm! All three - and Pam Slater to some extent also - are rather inflexible about upholding Their Own Ideas rather than falling in with the [clearly superior] Chalet School's.

Miss Bubb has many flaws, so many, in fact, that it's hard to believe she survived the hasty and superficial vetting she got before arriving on the scene. To give them the benefit of the doubt, though, I must admit that my own organization hired someone a couple of years ago who seemed mostly fine at the job interview (he was superior to the other candidates), but who turned out to be an organizational nightmare and who we finally had to let go under bizarre and painful conditions. So perhaps she was able to rein in her quest for school domination until she arrived on the scene!

Still, when you've got Joey whisking people away and making remarks that indicate that she knows the head won't allow them to go for the traditional tea with the oldest pupil, one can't help wondering if Miss Bubb got a fair shake from the staff, either.

And thanks for the Chudleigh Hold info - I haven't read much "other" EBD, so now have an addition to the shopping list!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2010, 23:38 
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I love this book, but have only read it in pb and wonder how much it has been cut. There are a couple of things that puzzled me and made me think that I was missing out on some points of information. For example, Joey's reaction to Josette's accident seems very underwhelming indeed. If I'd heard that my niece was grieviously ill from a severe scalding I'd have been less concerned about having girls over to a luncheon party and more concerned about seeing said neice and supporting my sister by my presence.
Also, would someone of Ms. Bubb's background and education really regard the arts, particularly music as a sop for the less academic? Like Cosimo's Jackal I wish she hadn't been depicted as quite such a villian, but when she is portrayed thus, what a pity she isn't sufficiently villian like to send Jack off with a flea in his smug ear. EBD was obviously addicted to the 'arrogant man' syndrome and couldn't bring herself to allow the staff sort out their own problems.
Having said all that, I really like Jacynth and Gay and their relationship, Ironic that Jacynth's name sake turns out to be such a horrible little bully.


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