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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 05:01 
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Ilked this book and especially Jacynth. The friendship between Gay, Gillian and Jacynth is well portrayed.
Miss Bubb was to be a villain from start.Isn't it strange that they never get good teachers if taken hurriedly? Or good teachers were not taken because EDB wanted Hilda to come back?
I find the case of Gay running away strange. Would it be dangerous for a teenager to travel so far without any elder person with her? Were the children allowed to travel alone, that too at time of war.
She wanting to run away was believable though not necessary.
I personally do not agree with the punishment given by Miss Wilson to Gay. You cannot ignore such behavior and say it was childish and not worth mentioning. It was a dangerous thing to do. Had anything happened to Gay it would have reflected on the school and their security.
Isn't it strange that Sybil disobeyed her parents and was punished for life. No one forgot or let her forget her mistake. But Joey who disobeyed for various reasons - rescuing Rufus, rescuing Elisaveta, rescuing Saints from skating, standing in front of open window or door in winter always turned out to be a heroine and her escapades were always remembered as legends?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 09:24 
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MJKB wrote:
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.


Try to get hold of the full-length version if you can MJKB, you won't regret it. It's almost like reading a different book. I love Gay from China, it's one of my favourite books and I'm intrigued by Gay's life in China before coming to England. I think Miss Bubb is demonised a little too much but she is only temp head and she knows that although she's convinced herself that neither Miss Annerlsey nor Miss Wilson are coming back; so she feels there's a chance of being made permanent head. I also can't see what's wrong with wanting better exam results but it's the way she goes about it that's wrong and it's also wrong that she wants exam results at the expense of everything else.
I'm now off to add Chudleigh Hold to my Christmas list :)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 09:30 
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Gay is over the school leaving age though isn't she? So not exactly a child per se.

Gay and Jacynth both travel to school without an adult for a large part of the journey.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 09:41 
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Gay was 15, but she was wandering about in the middle of the night and in the blackout, which was dangerous for anyone, and she was walking down quiet country roads with no-one else around. It was unlikely that Grizel, when she ran off in Head Girl, would have come to much harm on a busy train, but anything could've happened to Gay: she could have been attacked, or she could've tripped over something in the darkness (Roger Richardson dramatically nearly bled to death after tripping over a tree trunk, and that it was in broad daylight!). & she was intending to hitch-hike rather take the train until Gill Culver warned her not to. As Mohini said, she got off pretty lightly: Miss Wilson dismissed it as a "silly prank" but Gay put herself in a lot of potential danger.

Needless to say, she does get punished by the fates with German measles, but a load of other people end up getting it too :shock: .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 09:57 
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Alison H wrote:
Gay was 15,


While taking the point re potential danger, most people left school at 14 pre the 1944 act. Fifteen was considerably "older" then than it is now.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 10:42 
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I'm fond of this book! Jacynth is a lovely character, although I've always found it a little weird/grating that Gay's called "Gay from China". Uh...am I missing an injoke or somethnig? O.o I don't remember Jo Scott being Jo-From-Kenya or Biddy-from-Ireland. Anyway, minor confused quibble.

mohini wrote:
Isn't it strange that Sybil disobeyed her parents and was punished for life. No one forgot or let her forget her mistake. But Joey who disobeyed for various reasons - rescuing Rufus, rescuing Elisaveta, rescuing Saints from skating, standing in front of open window or door in winter always turned out to be a heroine and her escapades were always remembered as legends?


True, but look at the reasons. Sybil disobeyed a simple safety rule of not playing with hot kettles, and ended up being in a situation where her little sister could stand on her foot, causing her to drop it all over her. Topping this, she "had no more sense than to" treat the scauld by taking all Josette's clothes off, rather than get help. Now, from the phrasing, I've always rather assumed that she had been told what to do in the case of scalds/minor injuries and went completely against it, either because she was afraid for Josette, or because she wanted to hide the trouble she'd caused (or both). Jem was justifiably furious, although his punishment was too harsh on a terrified and traumatised child (and was more about relieving his own feelings than trying to correct Sybil through punishment). Contrary to this, Jo's escapades as mentioned were acts of selfless heroism in the books. Perhaps rather thoughtless, but still, the situations are totally different (she does get a verbal smack for thoughtlessly standing in front of open windows though!). But I don't think the two girls can really be compared in this regard.

Regarding Gay, I also rather agree with Miss Wilson's treatment of her. Gay's got a good character, she doesn't just go off half-cocked in the books in general. Miss Wilson did recognise that Gay was severely provoked, and the extra punishment from Miss Bubb (Gay had already been in isolation and sent to bed/sent to the bottom of the garden before this extra punishment. We (and Miss Wilson) is told that she is punished thoroughly for her silliness when she gets home, so there's no real point in piling more on her. She is treated like a silly child (most uncomfortable by age 15!) and has to work hard to catch up on the work she missed. I think that's quite punishment enough, really! :D

MJKB wrote:
what a pity she isn't sufficiently villian like to send Jack off with a flea in his smug ear.
.
I would love to have seen that scene...

Ahm, sorry for the rather epic ramble..

ETA - Another thought on the Sybil situation - I never quite understood the sudden change against her looks, perhaps she knew the adults were afraid of Josette's injuries permanently scarring her? After all, the skin was torn off the poor baby. So maybe her blaming herself made her feel like she didn't deserve her much-lauded beauty when she might have destroyed Josette's. Even if it didn't scar, it's emphasised that the child looks weak and sickly.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 11:24 
I wouldn't have said that Gay, walking cross-country at night in wartime, and then taking the train by herself, was in fact in anywhere near as much danger as, say, Joey rushing off through remote mountainous country after Elisaveta who's been kidnapped by a mad prince, or going up the famously dangerous Tiernjoch after Grizel. My sense is that Gay (who isn't running away, just going briefly AWOL from an unjust regime to try to see her brother for what might be the last time) actually plans and executes her journey well - it's a full moon, so no worries about getting lost, she's an excellent walker, she has plenty of money, she doesn't hitch hike, and has thought about her clothes identifying her, and what route to take so the CS doesn't intercept her at obvious stations. Even without Granny and her son, there seems no reason to anticipate she wouldn't have made it home.

(And of course, one can't help suspecting that the reason for Gay's running away, the fact that she was rebelling against a Bad Head, and the fact that it wasn't to discredit the CS, like Eustacia, contributes to it being regarded relatively lightly.)

I feel the fact that Sybil is described as 'to blame' for Josette's scald is unfair, and says more about the fact that EBD wants to make a morality parable out of it than about the actual circumstances, which were essentially, that two unsupervised children were around a boiling kettle. Sybil sounds if she may have actually been trying to help by taking the kettle off the stove top, if, as we're told, Rosa was out with the hens, when Josette stood on her toe and she dropped it. Then she makes a serious First Aid mistake in her treatment of the scald, but she's about nine, isn't she? And is the poultry yard really so far away that Rosa (or anyone else) didn't hear hysterical screaming and Sybil dragging Josette upstairs to the bathroom? Where is everyone?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 11:38 
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The idea seems to be that the accident happened because Sybil disobeyed a house rule that the kids weren't to mess with the kettle, and that she disobeyed a house rule because she had a wilful personality because people had given her a high opinion of herself by saying how pretty she was. It's fairly tenuous argument: it might make sense that a child disobeyed rules, especially if they were given by a youngish nursemaid rather than a parent, if they were generally spoilt, but I think that linking that to conceit about beauty is pushing it. It reads like a Victorian morality tale, same sort of thing as Eustacia and Katy Carr both ending up being injured because of disobedience, but in this one EBD combines disobedience with the other deadly sin of those sort of stories, vanity.

It was just an accident. Most children end up in hospital with burns or broken limbs or other injuries sustained in domestic accidents at some point, however careful their families are. When Mary-Lou is injured by Emerence's toboggan, Emerence feels bad about it but she isn't made to suffer as Sybil is.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 11:41 
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I've only read the pb, so I may be missing some points, but I would like to clarify a few points;

Was she screaming for help, or did she pull Josette upstairs to get the clothes off her rather than look for outside aid in a situation where she was very much to blame (despite being a child)? I'm not suggesting she deliberately wanted to make things worse, but she might not have understood just how badly hurt Josette was, and wanted to try solve things herself before an angry parent came in (goodness knows I did that in less serious circumstances when I was that age! :D) If she was howling though, someone certainly should have heard her, or rather, they shouldn't have been out of earshot.

It's never really mentioned about whether she's trying to help or not (in the pb at least), but the impression I picked up was that she deliberately disobeyed an order, perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps to show off as an elder to Josette (she is inclined to pull rank at this stage of her life) and, in EBD parlence, proved herself untrustworthy of being left minding her sister for even a few moments. Nine is young, yes, but it is well old enough to understand an order like "Don't touch the kettle/go near the fire". I do think the mental punishment was far worse than the parents meant it to be, and they should have taken some responsibility themselves, but..hmm.. children are older in some respects in the books at certain ages than they are now. They are expected to have the sense of responsibility of, say, a modern 12-yr old at 9, and are punished accordingly, as far as I can see from the books.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 12:12 
Samaris wrote:

Was she screaming for help, or did she pull Josette upstairs to get the clothes off her rather than look for outside aid in a situation where she was very much to blame (despite being a child)? I'm not suggesting she deliberately wanted to make things worse, but she might not have understood just how badly hurt Josette was, and wanted to try solve things herself before an angry parent came in (goodness knows I did that in less serious circumstances when I was that age! :D) If she was howling though, someone certainly should have heard her, or rather, they shouldn't have been out of earshot.

It's never really mentioned about whether she's trying to help or not (in the pb at least), but the impression I picked up was that she deliberately disobeyed an order, perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps to show off as an elder to Josette (she is inclined to pull rank at this stage of her life)


That's the thing - we don't know. We are never 'shown' the scene from the point of view of the only two people who were there, Josette and Sybil, we only hear about it from Daisy, who wasn't present, and who has had all her information from Madge, so it's all very mediated. We only hear what Daisy says Madge says happened, with Daisy's spin on it. Daisy takes a very moralistic approach to Sybil (she says she'll be 'less cocksure' now) probably from sympathy for Madge (and possibly, like Joey, some dislike of Sybil?) as much as for Josette:

Quote:
If she hadn’t been messing about with the kettle, Josette couldn’t have run into her, and then it wouldn’t have got spilt. Josette stood on Sybil’s foot, and she shrieked and dropped the kettle. It fell on the poor baby, against her chest, and upset all down her tummy. Rosa wasn’t here – she was in the poultry-yard – and Sybil had no more sense than to drag Josette up to the bathroom, and take her clothes off, one by one. By the time she’d finished, her vest was sticking to her, and Sybs just yanked it off – and half the skin with it. If it hadn’t been for that, she wouldn’t have been so bad. It’s all Sybil’s fault.’


So we simply don't know what Sybil was doing with the kettle - she may have genuinely been trying to help by taking it off the heat, or she may have been showing off, or she may have been being 'heedless' about house rules, we just don't have the information to know for sure. Also, we don't know whether she was genuinely trying to do her best for Josette afterwards by undressing her in the bathroom, or whether she was trying to cover the accident up. The only thing that strikes me is that Daisy's account puts Sybil as 100% to blame, not the lack of supervision in a part of the house that would be full of potential accidents for children. (Plas Gwyn's kettle is boiled on a hook over an open fire, so maybe the Round House is the same?) I'm never sure myself why two children are actually 'below stairs' in the Round House kitchen in the first place, and why, given that Josette at least must surely have been screaming in pain and shock, whether or not Sybil cries out for help after her initial shriek, no one hears in time to stop Sybil taking her vest off...?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 12:39 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:

The only thing that strikes me is that Daisy's account puts Sybil as 100% to blame, not the lack of supervision in a part of the house that would be full of potential accidents for children. (Plas Gwyn's kettle is boiled on a hook over an open fire, so maybe the Round House is the same?) I'm never sure myself why two children are actually 'below stairs' in the Round House kitchen in the first place, and why, given that Josette at least must surely have been screaming in pain and shock, whether or not Sybil cries out for help after her initial shriek, no one hears in time to stop Sybil taking her vest off...?


I think there is plenty in the earlier books leading up to this incident -- Sybil's chanting to Peggy, Rix and Bride that they are "just cousins' while she and David "belong" as well as the meanness to ther Highland Twins. I feel there was tacit criticism of Madge and Jem's parenting in the case of Sybil -- why didn't they intervene when Sybil was being so cruel? We are told early on she has a great opinion of herself as the only daughter of the house and I wonder if they treated her airs and graces as so outrageous they were funny.

At 9, I think she is old enough to know that you don't mess with kettles and I think it says that she had been warned about it on a number of occasions. You cannot and should not have to watch children of that age every second; it's different when they are toddlers who view plug sockets as excellent places to insert keys/fingers etc but at some point you have to be able to trust children to be alone. It is only partly Sybil's fault but it was only an accident waiting to happen because of her actions. I read Jem's response as guilt for not having dealt with Sybil earlier; she didn't need his fury as well. I'm sorry for what she becomes but it all rings very true. Hope she had a new and happy life in Australia!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 12:46 
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I'd have thought that, to a nine year old, the LOGICAL thing to do would be to try to remove the scalding hot clothes before they cause more burns. Unless Dr Jem had held junior first aid courses for his household how would a little kid know that the skin would come off with the last layer? *shudders at the thought* I've always assumed that Sybil was trying to help Josette, or at least stop her screaming! (Possibly with a touch of self-preservation thrown in.)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 12:51 
Cesca wrote:
I think there is plenty in the earlier books leading up to this incident -- Sybil's chanting to Peggy, Rix and Bride that they are "just cousins' while she and David "belong" as well as the meanness to ther Highland Twins.


Oh, I agree, but is that not something of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him? (I mean, on EBD's part.)

EBD makes it very clear she's not a nice child (though personally, I'd be inclined to see some of the 'just cousins' and 'belonging' stuff, and the resentment of the attention paid to Robin at the start of Gay, as desperately looking for some confirmation that she's more important to her own parents than the other cousins and wards she grew up with). But although we're clearly supposed to think 'Aha, that cocksure, vain little girl is exactly the kind who would fool with a kettle and then make her sister's injuries worse by trying to conceal them!', I'm just not sure that having a high opinion of herself makes her any more likely disobey a rule and have an appalling accident as a result...? Sweet, obedient Robin still dosobeys the rules and goes off with the madman, putting her life plausibly in danger, after all.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 13:08 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
Cesca wrote:
I think there is plenty in the earlier books leading up to this incident -- Sybil's chanting to Peggy, Rix and Bride that they are "just cousins' while she and David "belong" as well as the meanness to ther Highland Twins.


Oh, I agree, but is that not something of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him? (I mean, on EBD's part.)

EBD makes it very clear she's not a nice child (though personally, I'd be inclined to see some of the 'just cousins' and 'belonging' stuff, and the resentment of the attention paid to Robin at the start of Gay, as desperately looking for some confirmation that she's more important to her own parents than the other cousins and wards she grew up with). But although we're clearly supposed to think 'Aha, that cocksure, vain little girl is exactly the kind who would fool with a kettle and then make her sister's injuries worse by trying to conceal them!', I'm just not sure that having a high opinion of herself makes her any more likely disobey a rule and have an appalling accident as a result...? Sweet, obedient Robin still dosobeys the rules and goes off with the madman, putting her life plausibly in danger, after all.


You are quite right with Robin but she does get a nice punishment in terms of being abducted. Her faults are of naivety and being too trusting rather than self-interest. I'm sure you are right about Sybil and resentment but it doesn't make me feel any more sympathy towards her. I do think she is exactly the kind of child to cause an accident in that way and to end up hurting someone else. Do I think she's bad? I admit it, I do. But I think Miss Bubb is bad too. :oops: I think I am a Chalet School Fundamentalist.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 14:17 
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The one thing I never understand about the Sybil incident is why she wasn't at school. I may be misremembering, but wasn't Madge at the school to tell them about Miss Bubb? Surely at 9 Sybil was a junior and should have been there.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 17:17 
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Simone wrote:
Surely at 9 Sybil was a junior and should have been there.

Interesting point, and why, as someone else has said, was she in the kitchen alone with a four year old and not in the nursery? I'm afraid if Rosa was a 21st century au pair she would be in serious trouble on health and safety grounds. People nowadays are much more inclined to blame adults, sometimes unfairly, than children and adolescents.
I only read the pb so I'm a bit short on knowledge about the details, but Sybil's treatment of Josette appears to be more to do with self preservation than a genuine desire to help, and it's understandable with all this talk of instant obedience.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 20:25 
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On a completely different note, what do people make of Jacynth's auntie? For one thing, she seems to be the only person in the series who has to make sacrifices in order to send her daughter/niece/ward to the CS. Whilst I'm not convinced about the idea of raising the money for the school fees by knitting, I think it's realistic that a lot of the parents/guardians would have had to work very hard and go without things themselves in order to be able to pay the fees, but it's not something that really comes across with anyone else and it's good to see the subject raised at least once. Then there's this very poignant scenario of a woman who's devoted her adult life to looking after her niece - we don't know much about her, but the fact that she's got no-one she can ask to be Jacynth's guardian suggests that she doesn't have much of a social life - and who then dies when only in her mid-30s.

:cry:

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 20:48 
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Jacynth's auntie seems to me to be such a strong character, even though we see her when she's at her most vulnerable. Given that she had no one else in her life but Jacynth, sending her off wasn't just a financial sacrifice but an emotional one, too - she must have known that there was a chance she wouldn't survive the operation (does she say so to Jacynth?) and yet she sends away the only person in her support network, because she thinks that that will be better for Jacynth. Ugh, I'm tearing up just thinking about it!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 21:02 
Despite being mildly incredulous about the idea of knitting the CS fees (!), I like Auntie's practicality - do we ever encounter another parent or guardian who chooses the CS out of a book, partly because its fees are mid-range! (And who would clearly have preferred to send Jacynth to Cheltenham Ladies' College or Roedean, if she could afford them!) Inevitably, she also knows an old girl, but it's not the primary reason, which makes a nice change. This woman is a realist - it's a pity we don't see more of her in the flesh.

And of course what always strikes me is that she and Jacynth are not so different to Madge and Joey (if we exclude Dick, who, frankly, isn't all that much use at the start of Chalet) - an orphaned baby being left to its only close relative with a tiny income. Madge has the health, get-up-and-go, looks and charm to bring up her sister, start a successful business and manage to marry well, but Jacynth's aunt is probably a more realistic picture of what might happen to a genteelly-impoverished young woman of her day burdened with a child to bring up - no marriage, perhaps because she is handed a newborn at the age of 22 and had to give up social life, few friends, and we're told by Jack that the reason she doesn't survive the operation is that she 'worked herself to death providing for the kiddy'.

Not that I'm all that sure how you could knit yourself to death. But all that advice about saving and debt in her last letter is terribly sad - she's clearly worried quietly but frantically about money her whole life, and that's what worrying her about leaving Jacynth, poor woman.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Change – Gay from China at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 12 Oct 2010, 21:03 
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I do love Jacynth and her auntie; I'm another who chokes up when even trying to write about her. The title of this book always puzzled me because I see Jacynth as the main character, fond as I am of Gay.

The other character who leaps off the page for me is Gran'ma (however it's spelt). There's been some debate going on about whether battleaxes are a things of the past and Gran'ma came to mind straight away; bit like Ena Sharples without the hairnet!


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