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 Post subject: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 06 Jun 2021, 12:06 
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I've always wondered this. She's vaguely described as being Simone's "cousin", which doesn't really help in terms of determining her age. It's often suggested that she was there partly as a chaperone to 24-year-old Madge, and she does seem to be a fair bit older. But there's never any hint of retirement until she becomes ill, although that could be for financial reasons. Maybe mid-40s? Are there any actual hints anywhere?

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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 06 Jun 2021, 12:19 
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In Challenge Miss Annersley says she was 53 when she died, so she'd have been mid 40s when she started at the school. Of course, in the same paragraph she says that Madge was twenty six when she founded the school (she was twenty-four), and that Miss Wilmot was currently about thirty (no more than), when she should be 37, so interpret that as you will. :D

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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 06 Jun 2021, 12:38 
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Thanks- mid-40s sounds right!

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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 06 Jun 2021, 16:54 
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Of course when you read a book at the age of 9, anyone over about 18 feels 90 years older than God. Add in the “these books were written in the olden days” factor... and Mlle seems quite an old lady. Put your brain in gear and she obviously wasn’t at all old. Some of my own teachers were on the verge of retirement and must have been older than Mlle.

I was just editing a blog post where a character is 75 and described as “very elderly” (and likely to die at any moment if he has a tantrum or eats the wrong food - not something Mlle would do). This was 1947.

And... [big sigh] she must have been younger than me.

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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2021, 21:55 
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Grace wrote:

I was just editing a blog post where a character is 75 and described as “very elderly” (and likely to die at any moment if he has a tantrum or eats the wrong food - not something Mlle would do). This was 1947.



Even now, some people seem ancient at about 45 and others seem to defy the passage of time. I had an aquaintance once who behaved and appeared like a mildly dotty grandmother at the age of 50. I am now in my late 50s and still like to stay up late, play loud music and generally do a variety of things that would alarm even Joan Baker. And I did have a friend (now gone, sadly) who was into loud music, lots of beer, motorbikes and vigorous activity in his mid 80s and no-one, on casual acquaintance, would have believed him to be over 60.

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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2021, 12:54 
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I'm now embarrassed at how years ago, my friends and I would talk about older people as being "wonderful for their age" because they were still open minded/physically active/enjoyed new experiences etc. I'm now at the age of those older people to whom we were referring and all I can think is "How patronising were we?"!


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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2021, 13:59 
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She comes across as being relatively old, I would have assumed in her 50s but I think mid 40s is probably a more accurate guess.

People do seem to age at different rates. Some people in their early 70s seem to be very elderly whereas some people in their 90s could easily pass for 20 years younger.

Your own perspective changes too; I used to think people in their early 70s were old but now my parents are that age I have reclassified it as middle age. Being perilously close to 40 I have decided it is still young


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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2021, 18:57 
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I was definitely young when I was in my forties.
But…. Very depressing… in my fifties I suffered all sorts of exciting ill-health which I could well have done without. And I think it’s going to get worse.

I have a friend who I have known since about 1995 who I always thought was much older than I am. Only recently I discovered we are exactly the same age :shock:

He behaves as though he’s in his 70s. I would feel about 25 without the health issues.

I wonder how old Mlle felt before she got ill? People were older back then I think. Erm… I think perhaps Mlle was the same age as my granny. Who was born in 1886.

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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 25 Jun 2021, 17:38 
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I looked back at my old school yearbooks a while ago, and one thing I noticed was that all the primary school teachers actually looked quite young - which definitely wasn't the case when I was there!

My granny was "too old" for absolutely anything once she hit 30. I'm glad I had the other grandmother, who was up painting ceilings well into her 90s, to show that that wasn't the only way to age.


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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2021, 14:07 
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I am - well - nearer 70 than 60, and at times feel very old indeed. However, my mother is still alive, at 93, although less vigorous than once she was, and until she dies, I am not allowed to think of myself as old!


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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 29 Jun 2021, 19:50 
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Have to agree with what others are saying about Mlle Lepattre being ‘old’! I think it was also a sign of the times that when people reached a ‘certain age’ they just have to accept and ‘become’ older. Thankfully that’s not the case now but I have friends abroad who say that in their countries women are often considered too old for marriage and children once they reach 25 :shock:

Sorry for using a lot of speech marks!


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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 29 Jul 2021, 14:07 
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I think I was around 9 when I started reading the series. Back then I would have put her at sixty (which doesn't seem so old now that my own father is 61) and now my first instinct was to say fifty, although it's clear from the timeline it's more likely late 40s. Still, that's double the age of Madge and most of the earlier mistresses at the beginning, so perhaps it's understandandable that she's seen almost venerable by comparision in the text!


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 Post subject: Re: How old was Mlle Lepattre?
PostPosted: 03 Aug 2021, 23:00 
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I also think Mlle was probably around mid-forties at the start of the books.

I always remember as a child thinking - and saying - there was no difference between a 50 year old and a 70 year old. The ignorance of youth!

I like to think I am "younger" than my grandmothers were at the same age. They never dyed their hair and the thought of them wearing jeans is ludicrous. For all I know though I might seem older.

My husband has good age genes on the paternal side. His father will be 98 next month but still lives alone and goes on holidays. His mother was over 100 when she died in the mid nineties.


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