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 Post subject: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 22:03 
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I'm glad for Madge and Jem's sake that they didn't end up stuck on the Platz, because I think they were probably much better off in Llan-y-Penllan. I like to think of Madge being like Audrey and Marjory in To The Manor Born :lol: , very involved with the WI and the church ladies' committee, and maybe getting involved with Guiding again, and Jem (he can't have worked all the time!) being a keen member of a golf club, and maybe something like the Rotary Club, and them going to lots of functions and dinner parties. And maybe EBD didn't want too many people outside those actually at the school. But I think it's a great shame from the reader's viewpoint that they vanish from the scene. First they're sent to Canada, then they're left behind when the action moves to Switzerland, and then they're packed off to Australia for no apparent reason other than to get Sybil and Josette to the other side of the world permanently.

Was there a way they could have been kept more involved? I'd like to have seen Madge, Jem, Joey and Jack all visiting the Oberland together to check out the new school and San sites (although I'm not sure what they'd have done with all the kids), and they could have visited, or been visited. We see very little of Madge's visit at the beginning of Joey & Co, and we never get to hear any of the discussions which must have taken place between Madge and Hilda. Surely Jem, who owned the San, would have come to have a look at how things were going on, from time to time. But they're sidelined :( .

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 23 Aug 2017, 22:31 
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It does seem a waste of such good characters. Surely the san would have hosted conferences when Madge could have stayed with Jo and perhaps spent some time in the school getting to know the present pupils or even to give a few talks/assemblies/ lectures? Or they could have revived the Founder's Birthday when she could have visited.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 24 Aug 2017, 01:14 
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That's a tricky one. Coming up with excuses to bring Madge and Jem to the Platz would quickly become contrived (and raise questions about Jack's competence as San head). I could see Madge making a yearly visit to inspect the school and give awards, or maybe coming for an extended visit when Jem is travelling for work.

Part of the problem is that once Joey is married with kids, she and Madge overlap too much in roles, and Joey wins out. Earlier, Madge is the more mature one - she's the one who can advise the school, and give awards, and have conferences with the Heads. Joey interacts at a more junior level, not too far out of her own schooldays, and later a just married young mother, who still has friends at the school. But by the Swiss move, Joey is over 30, with eight children, and she takes over both roles, as there are no young former students in the area.

EBD does a bit of a clear-out when the school moves to Guernsey as well - a lot students and mistresses leave, the Austrian families (Maranis, Mensches, etc) linger for a few books but quickly fall to the background, Dick and Mollie stop making visits, Margot Venables is killed off. We then get the La Rochelle families stepping up to provide a connection for the school with the local community, and some new families, like the Marilliars, joining the school.

The same things happens in Switzerland; 2/3 of the school is left behind, as well as many of the mistresses, Madge and Jem (and Mollie and Dick) aren't really seen much after that, the Christys and the last of the La Rochelle connections remain behind, Robin goes to Canada. The problem is that nothing comes up to fill the void. We don't get any Swiss families in the style of the La Rochelle or Marani/Mensch/von Escheneau clan, or interesting local people who interact with the school. We have Joey and her family, who take on more and more importance, and minor contributions from Hilary Burns and Phoebe Peters (and later Biddy O'Ryan). I honestly have trouble even thinking of non school/San/Maynard people in the Swiss books.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 24 Aug 2017, 05:03 
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jennifer wrote:
I honestly have trouble even thinking of non school/San/Maynard people in the Swiss books.


Winnie Embury is the only one I can think of. But she only has a voice in one book and thereafter is used by Joey as a dumping point for her children. :D

I think you make some very valid points in that the early books include the POV of other minor characters. But that gradually disappears to be Joey/CS POV to the exclusion of everyone else. And that's why the later Swiss books are so weak.

It is sad to see Madge take almost no notice of the school after the Canada trip. She doesn't even visit after the massive move to Switzerland to see how things are going. Even to see how everyone is settling in, have a look at the buildings etc

But we are not told of a visit by her until Kenya which is a few terms after the move. Even then her interaction with the girls seems forced - she's a visitor now strolling around dispensing largesse and watching the shows. Whereas before she had a special relationship with each of the girls and knew them all by name and what they were like.

She also is the person who delivers the speech giving the MV prize to Jo Scott. In the same speech, she calmly says this:

"Of late years, the prize had not been awarded as no girl had seemed to fulfil the conditions. But this year, the prefects have asked me to give it to Jo Scott, partly to make up to her for missing her chances in the various competitions and races, partly because, although Prunella Davidson fished Margot Maynard out of Lucerne last term, she did not fulfil others of the conditions."

So not only have there not been enough helpful girls attending the school for the prize to be awarded, she singles out Prunella by name!

It just seems like a strange thing for such a nice person as Madge to say.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 25 Aug 2017, 00:30 
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Alison H wrote:
I'm glad for Madge and Jem's sake that they didn't end up stuck on the Platz, because I think they were probably much better off in Llan-y-Penllan. I like to think of Madge being like Audrey and Marjory in To The Manor Born :lol: , very involved with the WI and the church ladies' committee, and maybe getting involved with Guiding again, and Jem (he can't have worked all the time!) being a keen member of a golf club, and maybe something like the Rotary Club, and them going to lots of functions and dinner parties. And maybe EBD didn't want too many people outside those actually at the school. But I think it's a great shame from the reader's viewpoint that they vanish from the scene. First they're sent to Canada, then they're left behind when the action moves to Switzerland, and then they're packed off to Australia for no apparent reason other than to get Sybil and Josette to the other side of the world permanently.

Was there a way they could have been kept more involved? I'd like to have seen Madge, Jem, Joey and Jack all visiting the Oberland together to check out the new school and San sites (although I'm not sure what they'd have done with all the kids), and they could have visited, or been visited. We see very little of Madge's visit at the beginning of Joey & Co, and we never get to hear any of the discussions which must have taken place between Madge and Hilda. Surely Jem, who owned the San, would have come to have a look at how things were going on, from time to time. But they're sidelined :( .


Jem definitely went out regularly to check over the Swiss San - we are told in one book when flying was being discussed, that of course Sir Jem always flew when visiting the Swiss San as if it was quite a known thing. The reader is never told though of rhese visits. Presumably Jem atayed with the Maynards.

I also think that Madge sometimes must have visited the school and it ia a shame these visits are never mentioned.

I am also convinced EBD changed Madge's personality from Highland Twins on so that the now adult Joey could be the feisty, outgoing sister. It is interesting EBD changed the personality back again when Madge was no longer to be around.

Alrhough I love the Maynard holiday books such as Joey Goes to the Oberland , Joey & Co etc, I think by the time of the Swiss books Jo should not have been such a regular presence. She should not have been living right next the school and should only have gone there by invitation.

EBD could occasionally have shown the Russells in Switzerland. They both had a reason to regularly be there. The main san was in England / Wales though and I am sure they had very happy, fulfilled lives there. Joey, away in Switzerland, also became the odd one out of rhe Bettany trio. I am sure Madge regularly saw Dick and Mollie.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 25 Aug 2017, 08:03 
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The lack of local involvement is such a contrast to Tyrol. I don't think we ever even find out Rosli's surname, even though she appears in more than half the books in the series!

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 27 Aug 2017, 15:22 
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And the only people who live up on the Platz are San staff or the school staff, unless of course, a local becomes necessary to provide a chalet for OOAO to break into so she can show off her people-saving skills, as she does with Jocelyn Marvell.

I wonder what the locals thought when they discovered a loose shutter and broken window in a Chalet that might not be visited by its new owner for several years. The kitchen must have been in a dreadful state by the time someone discovered the break-in. Don't tell me that local wild animals didn't find the gap and get in.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 27 Aug 2017, 16:39 
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Jennie wrote:
I wonder what the locals thought when they discovered a loose shutter and broken window in a Chalet that might not be visited by its new owner for several years. The kitchen must have been in a dreadful state by the time someone discovered the break-in. Don't tell me that local wild animals didn't find the gap and get in.

Given that it's Switzerland I can't imagine that a broken window would go unrepaired for more than a couple of hours. Strictly forbidden to have messy houses!

My Swiss sister-in-law (who hated the place) always used to say, not entirely tongue in cheek, that unless something was expressly allowed, you were safe to assume it was forbidden.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 27 Aug 2017, 21:20 
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cestina wrote:
Jennie wrote:
I wonder what the locals thought when they discovered a loose shutter and broken window in a Chalet that might not be visited by its new owner for several years. The kitchen must have been in a dreadful state by the time someone discovered the break-in. Don't tell me that local wild animals didn't find the gap and get in.

Given that it's Switzerland I can't imagine that a broken window would go unrepaired for more than a couple of hours. Strictly forbidden to have messy houses!

My Swiss sister-in-law (who hated the place) always used to say, not entirely tongue in cheek, that unless something was expressly allowed, you were safe to assume it was forbidden.

I'm sure that the school would have sent Gaudenz to repair any broken windows or doors. :D
I can imagine that Swiss laws are like German ones. I always joke that they have laws about everything and there's one which tells you to breath! There isn't as far as I know but . . .


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2017, 16:14 
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Also wishing Madge and Jem were more visible in the later books - I'd like to think that EBD trusted her readers to understand the subtext so that even though she doesn't mention them, I've always assumed, though, that they visited regularly, cooed over successive babies (while muttering to each other that surely eight/nine/ten/eleven for heaven's sake! were quite enough - but not being brave enough to say anything).
Jem would have had regular catch-up meetings at least every quarter, surely? He's the senior doctor and has a financial interest, and the reputation of the San is built on his own earlier years there. He has a duty as well as a vested interest in how things are going - he didn't build up an internationally respected San and become a world-famous authority by not reading all the small print or keeping things up to the mark.
Madge, too, would have made regular trips to check on the financial and general well-being of the school and you can imagine her staying with Jo but escaping for coffee with Nell and Hilda in search of peace.
In much the same way while I know that Joan Raymond is rarely seen at the Abbey in later books I'm sure she'd have been a regular visitor both to family and to the abbey.

I do realise that this is all a fantasy and that EBD and EJO actually abandoned their earlier heroines because they weren't having major dramas every five minutes. But in my head the visits happened as above...

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2017, 16:33 
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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2017, 16:53 
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I've always seen both Madge and Joan Raymond as 'background' presences throughout the respective series, too; even when neither of them actually appears, other characters often mention them.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2017, 17:10 
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I've always felt that a whole lot of stuff happens off-screen, as it were, whether that's people visiting (like Juliet at least once) or a few more shops opening or changing hands in the neighbourhood of the school...


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 29 Aug 2017, 18:39 
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[quote="sealpuppy"]Also wishing Madge and Jem were more visible in the later books - I'd like to think that EBD trusted her readers to understand the subtext so that even though she doesn't mention them, I've always assumed, though, that they visited regularly, cooed over successive babies (while muttering to each other that surely eight/nine/ten/eleven for heaven's sake! were quite enough - but not being brave enough to say anything).
Jem would have had regular catch-up meetings at least every quarter, surely? He's the senior doctor and has a financial interest, and the reputation of the San is built on his own earlier years there. He has a duty as well as a vested interest in how things are going - he didn't build up an internationally respected San and become a world-famous authority by not reading all the small print or keeping things up to the mark.
Madge, too, would have made regular trips to check on the financial and general well-being of the school and you can imagine her staying with Jo but escaping for coffee with Nell and Hilda in search of peace.
In much the same way while I know that Joan Raymond is rarely seen at the Abbey in later books I'm sure she'd have been a regular visitor both to family and to the abbey.

I do realise that this is all a fantasy and that EBD and EJO actually abandoned their earlier heroines because they weren't having major dramas every five minutes. But in my head the visits happened as above...[/quote]

Agree!☺


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2017, 02:52 
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In the Tirol days, Madge and Jem provided a home and family for CS girls & staff outside the school itself. We have the charming half term trips, sick girls such as Stacie being provided with home and care, and the general sense that Die Rosen and the Russells as a surrogate home/ family. Even their children are semi-adopted by the CS -the school is extremely involved when Sybil is kidnapped by the Mystic M. However, after the move to Switzerland, Freudesheim and the Maynards become the surrogate home/ family and the Russells are no longer needed.
Moreover, Madge and Jem play an important function in being Joey's family's- I do enjoy her "banter" with Jem, and the strong love and affection between Madge and Jo. However, when Jo has her own family and is grown up, her need for Madge and Jem lessens, as she has Jack for support and care, and her children to focus on.
Finally, as others has said Madge's role as CS advisor, mother to the girls and friend to the staff is supplanted by Joey, and having two women in that position is one too many!
It's a dreadful shame that enterprising, vibrant Madge should decline into "sweet Lady Russell". She becomes a remote figurehead, "Our Lady, the Founder" and less of a real person. I do like the glimpses of the real Madge we get: dashing across the Atlantic to support Dick when Mollie has her op, bossing Joey in & Co etc.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2017, 06:56 
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We're told in the later books that Madge is the real Madge again, and that she leads a very full life and is on lots of committees. That was probably the life she envisioned for herself when she was in her early 20s, before financial problems meant that she had to open the school, but it's sad how she becomes so remote from the school. When she did visit, it was probably like a visit from the Queen: everywhere would have been tidied up beforehand, and all the girls told to be on their best behaviour, and someone probably presented her with a bouquet of flowers, and it just wouldn't have been like an ordinary day at all.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2017, 11:50 
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Oh, I don't know, Alison. In a couple of the Swiss books we're shown Madge arriving secretly at the school and demanding to go casually into a meal behind the staff - despite being warned by Hilda she'll be mobbed - and then being suitably embarrassed by the screeches of delight from all and sundry. That's hardly formal! She told Hilda off very fiercely after one of those incidents and the latter just laughed at her. It's not always posh hats and huge bouquets when she's there, :roll: and I'm sure Madge prefers it that way.

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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2017, 23:41 
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Madge doesn't have quite the same personal connection to the school since she turned it into a limited company with shareholders. It's not 'hers' in the same way; she is more of a figurehead than someone who is directly involved.

Most of the OGs who were on the staff had married and left quite early in the Swiss years; there weren't many left who remembered spending half terms and weekends at Die Rosen as schoolgirls. Rosalie and Peggy Burnett - who both of course go back to Taverton days. Who else?


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2017, 10:09 
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I think the series definitely took a dip when Madge and Jem were moved to the background in 'Island'. There was something about Madge's presence that seemed to balance Joey and make her a nice and realistic character with faults as well as virtues. In Island she first started to show her egotistical characteristics with no Madge there to squash her and put her back in her place.

By the time the school moved to Switzerland Madge had become quite a remote character and, realistically, there wouldn't have been that many pupils left in the school who really knew her or would have been delighted to see her make an unexpected appearance in the dining hall.

It's a shame, because Madge had massive charisma in the earlier books.


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 Post subject: Re: EBD writing out the Russells
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2017, 10:33 
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Vintagejazz wrote:
By the time the school moved to Switzerland Madge had become quite a remote character and, realistically, there wouldn't have been that many pupils left in the school who really knew her or would have been delighted to see her make an unexpected appearance in the dining hall.


I've never quite seen the delight supposedly shown by the girls on Madge's rare appearances at the Swiss school.Hardly any of the school would know her personally and to them would, if recognised, be just the schools owner. Indeed I can see the younger girls nudging each other and whispering 'who's that?'

The series lost something when it moved,and like others I think its a shame Madge was sidelined.It allowed Joey to become too involved in the school but you could see that starting I think in the later Island/welsh books.


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