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 Post subject: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 08:41 
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I'm reading an uncut Three Go for the first time at the moment and am struck by how well written it is and how the characters and storylines set it apart from the surrounding books in the series :

We meet Mary-Lou for the first time
Joey has what I think is her first "fun & games" party for new girls
The triplets are at school
Madge & Jem still live close by
We see a first glimpse of what will become "The Gang"
and there is of course Verity's singing refusal

For me it's one of the best books of the series and could easily be read as a stand-alone. What do others think of as seminal books of the series?


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 08:52 
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Exile is the best one for me, and in some ways that and Three Go are complete opposites. In Exile, events have been taken out of Elinor's hands and the characters' hands, no-one really knows what lies ahead, and they just have to cope with what's thrown at them. In Three Go, the war is over, it's time to move forwards and, whilst Elinor, Madge and Joey were all hoping to take the school back to Tyrol at some point but couldn't yet, it was up to them to decide what happened in the immediate future - things were back in their own hands. And there's been a three-year gap, and new characters are being brought in: it's a new start.

School At and Jo of are both wonderful as well, but everything's shiny and new then.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 13:35 
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I agree, I think Exile is the most significant book of the series. A huge amount happens to the main characters, and it's set during a seminal period of European history.

It's also the book where we really say goodbye to school girl Joey, and meet the Joey that will drive the rest of the series. She does a huge amount of growing up in that book.

Likewise, this is the book where we finally see Robin mature and start to act her age.

Three Go is also significant as it marks a new departure in the series. Most of the Tyrol characters are written out and will only appear sporadically in future books; and Mary Lou is introduced and will become the next 'main character' of the series. It is also the first book where Madge really takes a back seat, and heralds her effective departure from the series '.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 20:38 
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I would suggest 'Goes To It' as well. It is the first book in Armishire and the first to really have Joey as an adult, and much more of a minor character- at least in terms of how much she can appear when the book is set mostly in school. I think the balance works well whilst the books are set in the UK, but her involvement in the Swiss books becomes very contrived.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 20 Dec 2016, 20:47 
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For me it is Jo of CS. I think a first book of a series is exploring possibilities, the second continues and develops and shows if the whole concept is going to work. And it delivers! Robin and Christmas in Innsbruck alone confirm EBD as someone with a story to tell and the ability to tell it well. My desert island book!


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 00:13 
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I think Three Go is a brilliant book. Mary-Lou might have got a bit out of control later on but EBD's characterisation of her in Three Go is marvellous. Mary-Lou is a landmark character because she is the most important person in the series outwith the B/R/M clan. Three Go in a sense also starts the second part of the CS series.

Of course not even Three Go can top Exile which is surely the best book of the series.

School at is obviously important too because it was the first book and set the standard. It was brimming with ideas but if it had bombed there would have been no CS series.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 01:58 
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Exile is in a totally different category than the rest of the books, I think - it's much more than a school story, even a well written, engaging school story. And it integrates the best of the CS spirit with real and harrowing world events - the rise of Nazi rule, a murderous mob and a desperate flight, contrasted with the peace league and compassionate portrayal of Gertrude Beck.

For the others - I tend to group School and the CS and Jo as the foundation books, covering the first full year and establishing most of the CS traditions. Three Go also introduces the triplets as schoolgirls, even if they aren't major characters yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 10:53 
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It's interesting that Three Goes and Exile signifies a major change in the series and yet Barbara which is also the beginning of a major change (with the school moving to Switzerland) doesn't. I wonder if that's because the characters were familiar whereas they are mostly new in Three Goes and if EBD couldn't do it as well as the major change was a return to the Continent and not somewhere new? I think Theodora is another book that is potentially a seminal book as it does show the triplets growing up. It's a shame EBD didn't capitalize on it; she does in Ruey with showing Margot's battle to keep her temper and sometimes succeed and sometimes not, but drops off after that

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Last edited by Fiona Mc on 21 Dec 2016, 10:55, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 10:55 
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Supersal wrote:
I would suggest 'Goes To It' as well. It is the first book in Armishire and the first to really have Joey as an adult, and much more of a minor character- at least in terms of how much she can appear when the book is set mostly in school. I think the balance works well whilst the books are set in the UK, but her involvement in the Swiss books becomes very contrived.


Yes, I think once the school moves to Armishire Miss Annersley is much more in control and Madge takes a back seat (apart from when Miss Annersley is absent in Gay from China due to an accident). Joey, while still very involved with the school, also has a separate life away from it and new priorities and responsibilities.

I think it's at this point that the Chalet School becomes more like traditional English boarding schools, and loses some of it's family feel.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 12:38 
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It does become very much like a traditional British school during the Armishire and St Briavel's years. The storylines about midnight feasts and sports matches could just as soon come from Malory Towers or St Clare's. I think that's probably why she moved the school to St Briavel's, to give more opportunity for landscape-based storylines, but there aren't that many in the end.

I like Barbara as a book, but the Platz is very much a British enclave abroad - like a complex of holiday apartments on the Costa del Sol, or an expat community in one of the Gulf states. If it was around now, they'd have a supermarket that sold loads of tea (hooray!) and HP sauce, and the Auberge would show Sky Sports round the clock and serve a range of British beers :D. Nothing wrong with that if it's what you like, but there's no sense of becoming part of the existing community, as there is in Briesau. Also, the book's mainly about Mary-Lou's gang, whom we've already known for years. It still ought to mark a big change, because the winter sports and expeditions are new, but it just doesn't, somehow.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 13:02 
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Both Exile and Three Go take place after gaps in time, as well. A lot of the old crowd has left, people we last saw as mischievous middles are responsible seniors, kids are growing up. So there's a feeling of newness, as we are reintroduced to the school. Plus, Exile is moving into the war period, and Three Go is moving out.

Barbara has the new location, and a lot of staff and students are left behind, but there's not only no gap in time, we get a full book in between terms with Joey and family moving to the Platz. And there aren't really any new characters - Barbara is new as a student, but not to the series, and she's with the Gang, who are all well known. I think there's also a feeling of moving back rather than forward - back to Europe, Mittagessen, mountain rambles, half-terms in exotic locations, local peasants, and so on.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 13:31 
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It possibly doesn't help that the Oberland is clearly viewed as second best. Lake Thun is very blue, but not nearly as blue as the Tiernsee. Swiss coffee is nice, but not a patch on Karen's Tyrolean coffee. It sometimes feels as if the reader and the pupils are actually being told that the Tyrolean years were the real heyday of the CS.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 13:35 
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I agree. Also, by the time Barbara was written the school had moved to its fourth location. The Austrian location was new and different, the Armishire move had all the excitement of the War and Joey getting married and becoming a mother.

The move to the Island felt a bit contrived, and by the time the school moved to Switzerland the books had fallen into a very formulaic pattern, and there wasn't really any good reason for the school to move there. I know they had always wanted to return to Austria, but couldn't because of the political situation. But there really wasn't much drama or any great storyline around the move to Switzerland, and the books really started to become claustrophobic and a bit repetitive at that point.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 14:28 
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Is it after the Swiss move that it goes to a-book-a-term? Although I wish EBD had done this in the early years, chances are if she had the earlier books wouldn't have been as consistently good as they were (although at least I wouldn't spend ages trying to figure out which book it was that had Joey ill with measles :roll: ).


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 14:42 
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I think it's at this point that the Chalet School becomes more like traditional English boarding schools, and loses some of it's family feel.

That's a realistic consequence, though. Most of the girls, and many of the mistresses, who remember the early days, when Madge was still at the school, have left. The new girls and mistresses don't share the memories of the Tiernsee. They were lucky, really, that an 'us and them' divide didn't develop between the older pupils and the new ones. And the school doesn't have the same ties to the community in Armishire as it had at the Tiernsee.

With the move to Switzerland, as well as the Gang becoming more prominent, Mary Lou stops being a goodhearted, funny, and sometimes bumptious and inappropriate Middle who needs to be squashed at times for her own good, and becomes the Girl Who Can Do No Wrong and can sort out any problem girl, even those who have the Heads stumped.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 14:56 
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JayB wrote:
Quote:
I think it's at this point that the Chalet School becomes more like traditional English boarding schools, and loses some of it's family feel.

That's a realistic consequence, though. Most of the girls, and many of the mistresses, who remember the early days, when Madge was still at the school, have left. The new girls and mistresses don't share the memories of the Tiernsee. They were lucky, really, that an 'us and them' divide didn't develop between the older pupils and the new ones. And the school doesn't have the same ties to the community in Armishire as it had at the Tiernsee.

With the move to Switzerland, as well as the Gang becoming more prominent, Mary Lou stops being a goodhearted, funny, and sometimes bumptious and inappropriate Middle who needs to be squashed at times for her own good, and becomes the Girl Who Can Do No Wrong and can sort out any problem girl, even those who have the Heads stumped.


I agree it was the realistic route to go. That's why I couldn't understand why, in later books, pupils got excited by Simone having a new baby or some other news of Tyrol characters that they would probably never even have met.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 18:50 
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I agree with all the views expressed on 'Exile' and the Tyrol years generally. A book that I would put forward as breaking new ground (I'm not sure about defining it as 'seminal') is 'Jo to the Rescue'. It is the first of a short series of holiday books, takes place away from the school, features some of the best-loved characters, and shows that Jo has made the transition from school girl to young mother. There are lovely family scenes with an off duty Jem, too.

Would others see it as an experiment by EBD? It works for me - far better than some of the other 'holiday' books.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 19:49 
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I think Head Girl's a crucial one as well, because that's the point at which the CS becomes the CS world, which sets it apart from most other fictional schools. CS-land has expanded to include the Sonnalpe, girls who've left are included, and the first CS baby (David) arrives.

That paves the way for the full-scale holiday books, but it's a while before we get one - I'd agree that Rescue was an experiment. Maybe EBD wasn't sure herself whether to go down the EJO Abbey route of following the main characters after their schooldays were over, or to stick with the school format. Or was just looking for a way to keep writing about Joey!

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 23 Dec 2016, 14:54 
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I agree it was the realistic route to go. That's why I couldn't understand why, in later books, pupils got excited by Simone having a new baby or some other news of Tyrol characters that they would probably never even have met.

I suppose there was an element of going along with the crowd, and doing what was expected.

If the CS was really realistic, there'd have been a change after the triplets left. By that time the great majority of pupils had joined the school after the move to Switzerland. There'd be very few left who remembered St Briavel's and none who remembered Plas Howell and the war years and everyone who was associated with the school then, including Madge.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 23 Dec 2016, 15:14 
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There are ways of trying to keep memories and traditions alive once the founding generation's moved on, but the CS doesn't seem to have those. We had a Founders' Day service every year - and the school had been going for over 100 years before I started there, so there was definitely no-one around who remembered the people who founded it. And there were school prizes named after people no-one remembered. But the tradition of celebrating Madge's birthday was abandoned when they left Tyrol - which is a shame, because Madge deserved to be honoured. Although maybe having everyone celebrating your birthday didn't seem as attractive to her by then as it'd done when she was 25 :lol:. And it really annoys me that the Margot Venables Prize was renamed the Josephine Maynard Prize :banghead:. The idea of naming a prize or a building or anything else after someone is to keep their name alive, not to change it once the people who remembered them anyway are no longer around! At least the Therese Lepattre Scholarship wasn't renamed.

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