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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 23 Dec 2016, 16:16 
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Renaming the scholarship was probably just another way EBD made Joey the central character. On that note was Mary-Lou the only one ever to win it in the Swiss years?


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 23 Dec 2016, 17:04 
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I think Jo Scott did, didn't she? Notably, Len didn't! Whether EBD just didn't think of it, or decided it would be inappropriate for Len to win her own mother's prize.

Who else might have been a candidate? I think it's a consequence of Mary Lou being so dominant in Switzerland - no-one else really got a look in.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 23 Dec 2016, 17:07 
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I agree that Exile and Three Go are really important books - Exile in particular is one of the few that refer to an external event and is thus dateable (even if the ages of some of the characters don't quite fit!).
However I loved Barbara - possibly because it was one of the first of the series that I read as a child. I had no idea who all the characters were, but was intrigued just the same. Apart from that one and Jo of the CS I did not read any more until I was an adult!
I liked the way the M-L was portrayed in Three Go - as a small girl who has a lot to deal with but is willing to give it a go and get on with her life. You kind of know that she is going to be an important member of the school and at that point I think she is the sort of girl one would want to be. As someone who wasn't very confident etc at that age, I could see someone that I wished I'd been!

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 23 Dec 2016, 19:50 
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I think Jo's scholarship was not awarded after it was presented to Mary Lou because Len was then the most likely candidate (in EBD's opinion at any rate) and it might have been considered bad form for the award to go to a daughter of the presenter. If Len deserved the award though it should have been hers.

Although Mary-Lou appears to dominate the Swiss books, she actually left the CS proper long before the end of the series - before the halfway mark of the Swiss books. There are many references to her in later books though so it appears she was there for longer.

Who else, apart from Len, would have been worthy of Jo's award? Rosamund ?


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 24 Dec 2016, 14:11 
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Although Mary-Lou appears to dominate the Swiss books, she actually left the CS proper long before the end of the series - before the halfway mark of the Swiss books.

And then the problem was that EBD didn't have another strong group of Seniors coming along to take the place of ML and the Gang. There aren't any standout characters among the prefects in those years. It feels rather as if we're just marking time until Len is old enough to be HG.

Same thing would have happened after the triplets left, if the series had continued; the next strong group of seniors was Ailie & co. It's a defect of the book-a-term format, I think, in that EBD couldn't just skip ahead to a group she wanted to write about.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 26 Dec 2016, 09:56 
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Mary-Lou leaves at the end of Theodora, but she's at Welsen the next year, and plays significants parts in Ruey and Leader, and in Wins the Trick there's the storyline with the death of Commander Carey. Then in Triplets, Mrs Carey is ill, and that storyline carries over into Reunion. So she has a fairly significant presence well after she leaves the school.

It's an interesting point, above, about the lack of institutional memories in the school. Even at the end, things are done very much in a family way - for the coming of age, it's a matter of Joey inviting some of her friends over to discuss things, and Reunion is all an out-of school affair.

I'm surprised that the Peace League wasn't kept on as a school tradition - I could see a yearly meeting about the history of the school during the war, and students who reached a certain age being allowed to sign the document themselves, and a moment of silence for Old Girls on both sides of the conflict who died or disappeared.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 00:37 
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Although EBD does not mention it, Madge was bound to have visited the Swiss school fairly regularly, apart from the time she was living in Australia.

Although we hear about a board of which Madge was chairperson, she is the only person we hear about doing anything from a business point of view regarding the school i.e she decides the uniform of the Swiss school is to change and the mistresses are given designs for a new uniform on which to vote. She also goes to Switzerland as soon as she returns from Canada to choose a site for the new school.

We are told early in the Swiss books that Jem always flew from England when he visited the Swiss San. These visits were never mentioned in the books so it could have been the same with Madge's visits.

Hilda just could not have been solely responsible for deciding when the school was going to expand, oversee plans etc, etc. Involved with the school as Joey was we never hear a whisper that she or Jack were involved on the business side. If Madge was involved it would explain why the girls knew her at any rate.

What I have never understood though is who set up the finishing branch. Madge and Jem had been in Canada for nearly 18 months, Jack was running the San solo, Joey was moving house, looking after teething babies, getting pregnant again. Who did it?

Mary-Lou apart, it does not say much for the school that latterly the only really exceptional girls were Jo Scott, possibly Len and maybe Rosamund. Oh, possibly Ted as well. Although I am not too sure exactly why Rosamund and Ted would have been given the award.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2017, 19:36 
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Going back to Three Go, I wonder if EBD was consciously trying to recover the family feeling of the early books. The Trelawneys move to Howells village and become friendly with the Maynards and the Russells, Clem and Mary-Lou are friends from home before they meet again at the school, and several of the girls in Mary-Lou's form are "second generation" characters. There are similar storylines in the next two books. In Island, the Christy family become involved with the school, a bit like the Mensches and the Maranis did in the early years. In Peggy, Mrs Winterton becomes friendly with Mollie Bettany.

Then that seems to be the end of it. It doesn't really happen in Switzerland, although EBD could easily have said that Jem, Gottfried and Bruno were all going to be working at the San, and recreated a set-up similar to Sonnalpe times. But then Joey wouldn't have been able to grab centre stage all the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 09 Jan 2017, 08:52 
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I think maybe she tries a couple of times. There's the influx of the Rochelle gang in the second half of Exile. If the school had stayed in Guernsey, I could see her bringing in the local flavour, as she did in the La Rochelle series, and maybe having the servants come from a couple of local families, as in the Swiss days. Then there are the McDonald girls, who come to live with the Maynards, and the girls from Monica Turns Up Trumps, with Dr Marilliar being the one to recommend the school for Lavender. Oh, and in Island there's also Kester Bellever, for local colour.

I think part of the reason it doesn't stick is because the school has become large enough, and well established enough, that there isn't room for becoming involved with the local community. They don't take day girls, so they lose the chance for students to visit with local families on the weekends, and there is no particular reason for old girls to settle in walking distance of the school. In Armishire and St Briavals' they are far enough from the San that there's no direct connection there, on a day to day basis. They are big enough to make casually visiting local restaurants or other venues impractical. With 200+ girls, even things like shopping trips would need to be carefully arranged - I can't see a middle getting permission to walk into the village with friends to get her watch fixed and buy more hair ties, the way they do in the Tyrol days, or a form deciding on the spur of the moment to go to a local inn. And Armishire and St Briavals' didn't seem to have much of a tourist industry the way the Tyrol did.

And maybe in the Tyrol there was a novelty effect - having an Englishwoman open a school was a pretty unusual occurrence, which would attract a lot of attention from the locals, plus the local economy was bad enough that the money and employment the school (and San) brought in would be appreciated. Having a school open up in Guernsey or England would be interesting to the locals, but not something they'd feel an urge to become involved in.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 09 Jan 2017, 12:43 
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Audrey25 wrote:
Mary-Lou apart, it does not say much for the school that latterly the only really exceptional girls were Jo Scott, possibly Len and maybe Rosamund. Oh, possibly Ted as well. Although I am not too sure exactly why Rosamund and Ted would have been given the award.


Although it was supposed originally to be given for being all-round thoughtful and helpful, and I would have said that Rosamund qualified rather well on that basis.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 09 Jan 2017, 19:16 
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You are right, Mabel. I was wrongly thinking it had to be awarded for doing something spectacular. Rosamund would be well qualified.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 03 Feb 2017, 15:09 
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Rosamund definitely qualifies - there's a lovely moment in Ruey where Len comments that Rosamund is helping a lost new girl or something.

Dawn09 wrote:
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.


Yeah, I really like Rescue. It's more in the vein of some of the La Rochelle books than other CS stories - even Reunion doesn't do anything like introduce a new character, and the other ones are more like kid's adventure stories like Lorna Hill's.

jennifer wrote:
I'm surprised that the Peace League wasn't kept on as a school tradition - I could see a yearly meeting about the history of the school during the war, and students who reached a certain age being allowed to sign the document themselves, and a moment of silence for Old Girls on both sides of the conflict who died or disappeared.


Me too. Especially considering there must have been at least some old girls trapped behind the Iron Curtain, so it would still have been very relevant.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 12:38 
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For me, the seminal books in the series are School At/Jo of; Exile; Three Go; Problem and New Mistress. The latter two are trying to do something different - respectively exploring class themes and writing a school story explicitly from the point of view of a new teacher rather than a new girl. Of all of these, I think School At is the weakest book as a literary text, but it sets the scene and is included for that reason.

If I could add another couple, I'd agree about Jo to the Rescue - a lovely 'family' story that takes things in a different direction (ridiculous cello theft/frying pan story aside) but I'd also go for Oberland. It was a finishing school, so that was fresh, we get an influx of new and interesting characters, we see the CS girls' world view being challenged (a bit) and we get all the lovely descriptions of a new place etc. Maybe that's why Barbara feels less exciting than it could, because we've already had a lot of the description in Oberland?


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 19:51 
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JS wrote:
For me, the seminal books in the series...If I could add another... I'd also go for Oberland. It was a finishing school, so that was fresh, we get an influx of new and interesting characters, we see the CS girls' world view being challenged (a bit) and we get all the lovely descriptions of a new place etc. Maybe that's why Barbara feels less exciting than it could, because we've already had a lot of the description in Oberland?


I think that's an interesting point about "Oberland" but "Barbara" was much more widely available in that it was one of the early Armadas and was regularly republished whereas "Oberland" didn't get an Armada version until 1987 (?) or thereabouts.

I suspect that, as I did, many people here met "Barbara" before "Oberland" so their first descriptions of the place are in "Barbara" and, consequently, "Oberland" may be the one that feels less exciting.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 20:20 
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Fair enough, Victoria - Oberland was one of the books that my mum had (hardback) so it's probably one of the first I 'met' which might explain my prejudice in its favour. Also, when I were a lass :) I read most of them from the local and school library (this was the 1970s) although I did splash out on the Armadas with my pocket money.


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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 20:47 
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It's been said several times that people often have a strong liking for the CS books they read first (for me the hardbacks at home were Eustacia and Does It Again - both of which are "less liked books" in general- and my next reading the late Swiss books close to their publication dates - also "least liked books).

I certainly agree that "Oberland" was an interesting step.

In a way, it is interesting to consider what the criteria were that was used in the selection of the early Armadas. There must have been something that all the books were considered to share.

Equally, what were the criteria used once a wider reprinting started? The holiday stories were very late reprints and that decision was an obvious one but there's still a lot of dodging around.

Edit to insert correct word


Last edited by Victoria on 05 Feb 2017, 21:36, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Seminal books of the series
PostPosted: 05 Feb 2017, 21:10 
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I suspect that, as I did, many people here met "Barbara" before "Oberland" so their first descriptions of the place are in "Barbara" and, consequently, "Oberland" may be the one that feels less exciting.

Same here. My local library didn't have Oberland - or if it did, I never saw it. I read the books all out of order anyway, as and when I found them in the library (as I expect many people did). I can't remember which was the first Swiss book I read.

But in any case, at the age I was when I first read the books, I wouldn't have been very interested in a story focusing entirely on girls of 17-18. They were too old for me to identify with.


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