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 Post subject: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2018, 09:27 
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Heather Leaves School, published in 1929, is the fifth of the La Rochelle books. As in the last two, we start with a new set of characters, who meet up with more familiar ones later in the book. The story centres on fourteen year old Heather Raphael, who is removed from her boarding school to study at home with a governess, much to her displeasure. There's the (by now) obligatory summer trip to Guernsey, a clash with a bossy prig, lots of slang, stolen shoes, a secret passage, Christmas celebrations and a fight against dastardly art thieves.

----

We start with a discussion between Major and Mrs Raphael. Their daughter, Heather, has been away at boarding school, and they are concerned about her deportment, findiner her slangy, rude and boisterous. They decide to write the Headmistress to withdraw her at the end of the term, and plan to have Heather, her two younger sisters and girls from the neighbouring minister's family share a governess.

We are then introduced to the family. The Raphaels are an old, wealthy family, living on an estate called The Towers. Major Raphael is an explorer who travels extensively abroad, while his wife remains at the family estate with the children. Honey, the youngest at eleven, is a sunshiney little girl with a tendency to bluntness. Hazel, the middle girl, is a jolly, easily amused, tomboysih child. Heather, the eldest at fourteen is pretty, clever, stubborn and, after three years at school, impudent, untidy and slangy. (We also get the history of Honey's name; she was accidentally named Honeysuckle due to a scatterbrained neighbour and a difficult delivery followed by an emergency christening).

The school, Ripley, is experiencing general problems with the middles; a combination of a fad for behaving like schoolboys and lax oversight has resulted in a number of the middles being removed at the end of the term, due to parental disapproval of their conduct. Heather and her friends compare notes and complain about the situation, vividly expressed in boyish slang. Heather is badly upset about having to leave her school and friends, and sulks.

The term comes to an end, and Heather's attempt to change her father's mind are unsuccessful. He arrives to meet the train and drive Heather back home. Heather is miserable, and her father, while sympathic, ignores her sulks. She is greeted enthusiastically by her mother and sisters when she returns home, and finds that her bedroom has been nicely redecorated.

The next day the family heads off by boat for a vacation in Guernsey. Heather meets a pair of interesting young women on the boat, who turn out to be Janie Lucy and Pollie Ozanne discussing the coming summer. Their old friends are not in Guernsey this year; the Athertons are in Switzerland and the Willoughbys in Norway, but they are looking forward to seeing Elizabeth and Anne and their babies. Janie introduces herself, Pollie comments on Heather's slang, and Janie insists on meeting her parents. It turns out Major Raphel knew Captain Temple. For the past year, Janie has been at the Paris Conservatoire studying music, while Pauline attended a school there.

The two families split when they reach the port, but later discover that they've taken cottages next to each other. The next day the two families make friends. Elizabeth has a baby boy, Michael, while Anne, who arrives a couple of weeks later, has a baby girl, Beth. Elizabeth, after hearing Heather's story, asks Janie to help with the younger girl's attitude.

Things go well until Heather has a particuarly bad day, where everything seems to go wrong, and she is defiant and rude to her father. He gives her a cold dressing down, and grounds her for the day. Heather runs to her room and cries. She encounters Janie, who is ill after eating too much sweet food, and is spending a quiet day at home. She speaks to Heather about her slang, asking her to be careful around Pauline, and helps her see that her attitude is causing problems. Heather is much more pleasant by the end of the day.

Two weeks later, the families head out for a picnic, enjoying the sand and water, and building an elaborate sandcastle. Heather helps Janie keep the younger ones from paddling too far out, in gratitude for the good advice earlier. They return from the water to find that their shoes have been stolen by a group of young boys and Honey breaks out with some Heather inspired slang, to the startlement of all. They encounter Julian Lucy, who retrieves what he can from one of the boys who really should know better. Julian teases Pauline over having to go home barefoot, and "Miss Ozanne" appears.

Julian, a quiet young man, is obviously fond of Janie, but she doesn't see him as anything but a friend yet. Mrs Lucy, an invalid, discusses matters with Mrs Raphael, and Janie talks about him to Heather. He is keen on a career in the Army, but has decided to read law at Oxford instead, as his mother can't do without him. He joins in various expeditions with the girls, until the summer comes to an end. The Raphaels head home, with a particulary bad crossing, although Heather is not particularly affected.

We then pause for an introduction to the Shakesepare family, with all the girls named after Shakespeare characters. Their father, William, is an absent minded minister, their mother died when the eldest was six. Cressida Imogen (Cressie), fifteen, is a prim, humourless, opinionated girl, used to being lady of the house, and bossing the younger children. Hero Miranda, thirteen, is a jolly tomboy with a sense of humour. Portia Valeria, next, is spirited if delicate child, and quite clever. Cleopatra Ophelia (Pat), the youngest, is a sweet-tempered little girl. These four girls are to share governess with the Raphaels.

The girls have their first day in the Raphaels' schoolroom. The governess, Miss Christopher, is a sensible, pleasant young woman, a graduate of a good boarding-school. The girls get their schoolbooks, and are given a short examination. In general, Cressie is precise and tidy, but educated along old fashioned lines, while Heather is better educated, but careless. They do drill in a gymnasium fitted in a barn, and find out Miss Christopher is a Guide. Cressie doesn't approve of the movement (or the drill), but Heather is enthusiastic. Cressie and Heather frequently class; Cressie is bossy and patronizing, and Heather resents her attitude.

Miss Christopher writes to a friend; she finds the Raphaels gracious employers, and generally enjoys the job, although she dislikes Cressie. The girls settle into their new routine. Later that evening Heather is writing to Janie when Miss Christopher interrupts her; Hazel and Honey are missing! The family and staff look everywhere. They phone the Rectory to see if they know anything. Cressie says she doesn't, and that the younger girls don't. A while later, Hero appears, sopping wet from the rain. The girls had told her that they had found a special hiding place in the drawing room, but Cressie refused to let her pass on the information. The two girls end up having locked themselves into the old monk's passage.

Cressie is called to task for refusing to listen to her sister. She is furious at being spoken to in that way, and snubs Hero for a week. Her father reprimands her, realizes that he's placed too much responsibility on her, and consults with Mrs Raphael. The adults, and all the children but the sulking Cressie, explore the monk's passage, and find its exit.

The story then moves to Christmas, with the children decorating for the holidays. Janie and Paulie are coming for Christmas, as baby Beth has measles. The situation with Cressie hasn't improved, and the Shakespeare girls are now actually living at The Towers, while their father recovers from a serious illness. Miss Cristopher has started a Guide company in the village, however, and Heather is much improved in attitude and deportment from the beginning of the term.

There is a conflict between the family nurse and Cressie, who resents being sent to bed early. Cressie is coldly dignified the next day in response, but this is interpreted by Nurse as sulking.

Heather and Mrs Raphael go to the train to meet their visitors, but the train has been delayed by a falling tree. The girls, however, had gotten a ride from an earlierq station with a friend of the Raphaels', Sir Alured Saxon. It turns out that he has returned home to die, after treatment for TB in Switzerland had been unsuccessful. Cressie, on finding this out, dismisses this as sentimentality, and is puzzled when Mrs Raphael doesn't agree with her.

On Christmas Eve everyone is busy hanging up stockings, and reading their letters to Father Christmas. Everyone except Cressie is having fun; she believes herself too mature for this sort of thing. The older girls attend the midnight service with the adults parents. After, Janie notices a suspicious man lurking in the churchyard. The next morning, they unwrap presents with great glee, and have a pleasant Christmas day, ending with a party for the family and servants, with traditional music and dancing. Mrs Raphael is a great supporter of traditional music and dance, and has trained the villagers.

Janie seems distracted by something and Heather goes to her room late at night to ask about it. She has seen the suspicious man again, a dark, Spaniard-like man. Heather is worried; a year ago a Corscian had tried to break into the house, and had gone to jail swearing revenge.

The next day mummers visit the family. Everyone is excited except Cressie, who regards it as a superstition, and watching it to be wrong. She tries to argue Heather into boycotting it, but Heather refuses, doing her best to keep her temper. She is fortunately interrupted before she can give her honest opinion to the lecturing girl. Janie sees the suspicious man again. Cressie and Heather, tired and cranky, have an argument.

Janie and Heather talk, and decide that the suspicious man is likely to attempt to burgle the house. The Major is out for the evening, called to visit Sir Alured, and Mrs Raphael is of a nervous disposition, so the two girls plan to lie in wait for him, figuring he'll come in by the Monk's passage. They are joined by Cressie, who was woken up by a disturbance. The girls are interrupted by Sir Alured, who appears at the door, saying he had been called to the house. It appears that both messages were fakes. Right then, the priest hole opens, with burglars behind it. There's a exciting fight, and Heather is knocked out.

Heather wakes up some time later. She had been badly concussed, and had been ill for some time. Sir Alured died shortly after the fight, weakened by the struggle. The thieves were apprehended. Cressie makes up with Heather, a pleasanter girl after the shocks of that night, although the two are never more than mild friends. We finish with a postscript in June, as Janie and Pauline visit before the summer visit to Guernsey. Janie is now engaged to Julian, but they won't be married until finishing their schooling. Heather and Cressie are going to Paris the following year, to Pollie's school, to their delight.

-----

So, what do you think of this one? How about Major Raphael's parenting style, particularly in comparison to the explorer-fathers of the previous two books? What do you think of Heather and Cressie, and their various attitude issues and how they are resolved?

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2018, 09:45 
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The vengeful Corsican and the girls leaving school because of the bad influences there all seem a bit more Angela Brazil than EBD: the La Rochelles always seem much more like "period pieces" than the Chalet School books do! I like the whole gang of young adults in this: it's nice that Janie and Julian, and some of the future couples, are part of a group of friends before getting married, and seems much more natural than some of the romances in other EBD books.

It's unusual that the book's about someone leaving school because school is causing problems, whereas school is usually seen as the cure-all for problems in GO books. The clamping down on slang and tomboyish behaviour etc is quite a contrast to, say, Princess or Three Go or Does It Again, when being too prim is seen as a bad thing. There's obviously a fine line somewhere!

The end of this book always upsets me. The first time I read it, I assumed that Sir Alured would make a miraculous recovery, and that he and Heather would eventually get married and live happily ever after. That's another thing that makes this more of a period piece: in a later book, that's probably exactly what would have happened.

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2018, 16:17 
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This is my favourite of all the series I've read so far. I like Heather; her sulks and spirits are realistic for a teenager. I like that she evolves over the course of the entire book rather than in response to one life-changing incident.

Rather unusually for an EBD book, Heather's dad is an involved, on-the-spot father! He's strict, but not overbearing and seems quite balanced when dealing with Heather. He and his wife seem to have their act together as parents, taking a strong interest in their children's futures rather than swanning around the world and leaving their kids to nurses and governesses.

I think Cressie is a well-drawn figure. She has tendencies toward officiousness and self-importance that her family circumstances encouraged rather than contained. She's like a weak-tea version of Eustacia Benson, but again her transformation isn't as radical. I like that she and Heather become friendly, but not best friends. Despite their changes, Cressie and Heather retain core components of their personalities that render them mostly incompatible.

It's a shame Heather all but disappears after this book (unless she pops up in "Janie Steps In," which I haven't read). I'd like to know what happened to her, how she managed Alured's estate, and I'm sure she had suitors as a pretty heiress. The Willoughbys and Athertons are paired off and show up in the Chalet School series. I wonder why not the Rafaels?

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2018, 16:48 
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I really like this book, particularly the interaction between the two families, and the Cressie/Heather relationship which develops over the book as both gradually change. However I could do without the burglary story, don't think the story would lose much without it. Could still have the secret passge bit.

I always had the impression that Heather was quite a lot older than Hazel and Honey, but if she's 14 and Honey 11, Hazel must be 12/13, so not much of a gap.


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2018, 21:39 
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My favourite of the La Rochelles, and like others I regret Heather not appearring again.

I also think of her as a little older - and wonder why (maybe I’m forgetting the reason), if she has had three years at Ripley, Hazel and Honey are still at home.

How old is Janie in this - surely, over 18 if she becomes engaged? Maybe a little old to be making such a friend of a 14 year old?

I wonder if EBD did originally have other plans for Sir Alured (which is impossible to pronounce!). It seems unlike her to introduce a character on screen for the sole purpose of dying and leaving Heather a fortune that we never see her make use of... (off screen dying rich relatives, are of course, perfectly normal...)


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2018, 00:47 
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mynameisdumbnuts wrote:
I think Cressie is a well-drawn figure. She has tendencies toward officiousness and self-importance that her family circumstances encouraged rather than contained. She's like a weak-tea version of Eustacia Benson, but again her transformation isn't as radical. I like that she and Heather become friendly, but not best friends. Despite their changes, Cressie and Heather retain core components of their personalities that render them mostly incompatible.
I love the expression 'a weak tea version of Eustacia Benson', and thought it described Cressie exactly! She and Stacie are almost twins in terms of publishing history, too, the books being only a year apart. Clearly something drew EMBD to explore this type of character in greater depth... I'd have thought that Grizel was enough to be going on with in the 'difficult person' stakes at this point, especially when you're writing for the young, but I guess there's a fascination in writing such people.

As everyone else has said, this is an enjoyable book, and Heather is an attractive person. I wonder if EMBD shied away from writing about her being pitchforked into so much responsibility for some reason - I suppose Heather may not only have inherited Sir Alured's estate but possibly her own family's as well.

PS Alured is, needless to state in C M Yonge's History of Christian Names - I've never met anyone with the name, but suppose that it's pronounced 'Al-you-red'.


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2018, 07:40 
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Just Googled Alured, and apparently it's a variant of Alfred, and was the name of a medieval Bishop of Worcester and an 18th century field marshal, amongst others!

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2018, 10:05 
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This is the only La Rochelle book I haven't yet read. On reading the description and finding the name Sir Alured Saxon, my mind instantly went to Roswitha Saxon, who appears briefly in the Chalet School (I think in Wales but not on the island). But reading further down, I find that he died without having had any children of his own, plus the timing would be all wrong if Roswitha was his own daughter. Maybe she is a younger sister of his?


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2018, 10:41 
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What fun! Thank you very much for the synopsis.
Sir Alured is a most interesting character - my mind jumped straight to Doctor Who's Harold Saxon (who also has an obtrusively Saxon name). I'm interested that he comes home to die, while most of the TB deaths we hear about in the Chalet series die in the Sanitorium, I think? Also, if he's being mentioned (i.e. here, not in the book, which I haven't read) as a possible future husband for a fourteen-year-old, how old is he?

The family of Shakespearean-named girls is an idea which turns up in the much later Clare Mallory book, Juliet Overseas, though I can't remember any of the names except Juliet's, and her Aunt [Cor]Delia.


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2018, 11:30 
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I like this book. Heather seems like a very normal teenager, behaving badly but in a fairly normal way to what she sees as a serious injustice. Her parents are reasonable too - they pay attention to her behaviour, act when needed, and are sympathetic but firm. I agree that the younger too seem much younger than Heather - I'd picture Honey being about 8 and Hazel 11, rather than 11 and 12 or 13.

Cressie's obnoxious, but in a much more difficult way. Heather knows what she's doing, and when she calms down she can see that she needs to improve her behaviour. Being a self-righteous know-it-all is a very difficult thing to deal with in someone, because they're convinced that they're entirely right and justified, and everyone else is wrong.

I think the book was helped by having a lot of the previous characters out of the way. The last part of Seven Scamps is too stuffed with people - among the young folk, there's Janie, Pollie, Julian, 8 Willoughbys, Britta and 6 Athertons, all bouncing around.

Oh, and Janie is 18 during the summer, and Pollie 15. So Pollie's a natural companion for Heather, while I can see Janie choosing expeditions with the younger folk to hanging around with the parents and discussing babies.

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2018, 12:05 
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Housemate wrote:
What fun! Thank you very much for the synopsis.
Sir Alured is a most interesting character - my mind jumped straight to Doctor Who's Harold Saxon (who also has an obtrusively Saxon name). I'm interested that he comes home to die, while most of the TB deaths we hear about in the Chalet series die in the Sanitorium, I think? Also, if he's being mentioned (i.e. here, not in the book, which I haven't read) as a possible future husband for a fourteen-year-old, how old is he?


I think early 20s? Very young to die :cry: :cry: .

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2018, 19:38 
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What always puzzled me is why Alured left his estates to Heather, some one he'd last seen as quite a young child, he'd been away 7 years so Heather was 6 or 7 last time he saw her


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2018, 20:43 
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He seems to have no family, and a very close relationship with Heather's parents, presumably he leaves it to her rather than her parents as they have enough already? Maybe he discussed it with them and they said leave it to her as the oldest, and Hazel and Honey can jointly share our wealth in due course??


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2018, 20:55 
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Merlot wrote:
What always puzzled me is why Alured left his estates to Heather, some one he'd last seen as quite a young child, he'd been away 7 years so Heather was 6 or 7 last time he saw her
Yes, he's obviously close to the family, if only by mutual adoption - he calls Mrs Raphael "Aunt Clare' and Major Raphael is his god-father. And he seems to lack any other family members - he says "there's no-one to fret" when he dies.


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2018, 23:07 
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A bit OT, but, when Con Atherton and Rex Willoughby get engaged, Janie says she'd thought Rex and Heather might get together, and that that wouldn't have worked because they'd both got their own estates to see to. That does suggest that Heather had remained part of the gang, but I don't think she's mentioned after that, and she's certainly never mentioned once the Chester/Lucy/Ozanne family and the Atherton-Willoughby-Eltringham family have become part of the CS world.

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 16 Jun 2018, 03:38 
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The Raphaels do come to Janie's wedding, so the connection lasted for a while. But Heather and her sisters would be too old to attend the CS, but too young to have kids who could attend when it was re-established, and were living in England, not Guernsey, so they wouldn't have much chance of meeting the CS crowd at all.

The Chesters, Lucys, Ozannes, Eltringhams and Rosamund Willoughbys are all living in Guernsey when the school opens there, so it's natural for the kids to go to the CS. Then they all move close enough to Armiford to stay at the school - Paul Ozanne gets a job in Armiford, the Lucys and Chesters move to be near them, the Willoughbys and Eltringhams go to family in Surrey.

I would like to have heard more about how Heather turned out, and also about Pollie's career.

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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 17 Jun 2018, 19:55 
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As something not to be taken too seriously I would have liked Heather to have married the second son of a duke who had been left a fortune by his American mother or grandmother.

Heather would then know her husband was not marrying her for her money and she would get a title and somebody to help her run the estates. Husband would get an important property/land to run.


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2018, 14:31 
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Merlot wrote:
What always puzzled me is why Alured left his estates to Heather, some one he'd last seen as quite a young child, he'd been away 7 years so Heather was 6 or 7 last time he saw her


I've just re-read this book, and I can't find the text where Alured leaves his estate to Heather. Is it covered in the next book (which I've never read)?


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2018, 14:39 
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It's mentioned in the next book, if it's not at the end of this one


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 Post subject: Re: Heather Leaves School
PostPosted: 18 Jun 2018, 15:37 
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Yes, it's in the first chapter of Janie of La Rochelle: Janie says in a conversation with Julian that Heather has all the Saxonhurst estates to look after, and adds "I wish Sir Alured Saxon hadn't left her everything, as he did. It's tremendous responsibility for a girl - and I am so afraid some man may try to marry her for her money."


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