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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2019, 15:03 
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Actually, Jeanne de Lachennais was a teacher at the school from its very beginnings in Austria. She said at one stage that she wept for nights on end when she first came, feeling very lonely, and being so young.

But what about Nancy Wilmot? She's joined the school at the beginning of the Swiss days, having been a pupil in Austria, and yet we know her very well, I feel, as much as we do Kathie.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2019, 15:27 
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That's why Jeanne stands out, she's one of the originals!

Miss Wilmot is one of the exceptions when it comes to mistresses in the Swiss era being identikit, definitely. She's got a very distinctive personality.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2019, 15:35 
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Nancy isn't really new - we've heard about her on and off since the Tyrol days. One who is new in Switzerland is Sharlie Andrews, and I think she has quite a distinct personality even though we don't see a lot of her, she's there in every book I think


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 07:52 
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Of the Swiss Mistresses, Nancy, Sharlie and Kathie are the ones that stand out to me - the ones like Charlesworth, Stone, Barton, Bertram, blur together in my mind.

For the prank in Peggy - I can understand the prefects' over-reaction. The mistresses are experienced, and confident enough in their authority to hit the balance between amusement, and squashing the behaviour. They wouldn't be threatened by a prank like this. The prefects, though, are still only students, and they are younger and less experienced than previous batches of prefects. They're reacting to the prank as a direct challenge of their positions and come down too hard as a result.

I suspect that's why the girls often prefer to be disciplined by the mistresses instead of the prefects - the prefects feel threatened by misbehaviour, and are determined to defend their authority, while the mistresses have more perspective.

I've never been part of a prefect system, but it strikes me that putting sixteen and seventeen year olds into positions of pretty significant authority, with little oversight, could very quickly result in problems.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 21:05 
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I got the impression (from the hardback, not so much from the Armada) that the prefects are under rather a lot of pressure over slang from the school management. Measures already taken have not had much effect and the prefects don't really know what else to do.

The prank really comes as overload in a no-win (from the prefects pov) situation.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2019, 22:10 
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I used to compare myself to the CS prefects and realise how far short I fell. They are practically all brimming over with confidence.

EBD could have made a good story about the HG following Mary Lou being apprehensive because ML was so brilliant We get Josette though, seemingly never doubting her own ability for a second, although I suppose being the founder's daughter helped.

I also thought the series really went downhill when Mary Lou left. Joey & Co I thought a good book but after that I only really rated Reunion and Redheads.

EBD was just not able to recreate Mary Lou's friendship group with Len & Co. She would have been better leaving the triplets, as ordinary girls, with people their own ages. Instead, they are mixed in with remnants from ML's group and the odd new girl albeit Rosamund and Ted were interesting.

Jack was too nasty to fit in although she maybe does improve later and apart from Jane, the later new girls were pretty much interchangeable. As others have said EBD should also have concentrated a bit more on Ailie & Co.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 01:19 
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I think the triplets suffer as characters due to the expectations the story puts on them. If they were a normal part of the form, you might get a friend group like Bride and Tom - lots of interesting characters, but no strong leader. I do quite like many of their peers, like Rosamund and Ted and Richenda. But they're continually pushed to the front of the story whether or not it's interesting.

Also, the age issues don't help. At one point Len is in Upper Fourth and ten years old (in Changes). At that rate, she'd graduate at age fourteen. So she's demoted to Lower fourth the next year, and they invent Inter V to give the triplets an extra year, and then they do Upper Sixth twice. Then there's a whole bunch of girls who start out with Mary-Lou, and flunk downwards to end up with the triplets - Francine, Heather, Jo, the Dawbarns, Primrose, etc. So the triplets' year ends up being a weird mix of girls with a large age range.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 07:44 
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Everyone keeps changing their friends, as well, because EBD wanted Len involved with all their new girls. Len becomes best friends with Ros, but then Ros is shoved into the background so that Len can be best friends with Ricki and Odette, the new two new girls. Then Ricki and Odette are shoved out of the way, and become friends with Con, and suddenly Len is best mates with Ros again, and they become a trio with Ted!

I think there was just too much focus on Mary-Lou and Len. In the early books, there's a lot of focus on Jo, but there are always strong characters in other age groups too.

Maybe it was all too much in one location, as well. I know EBD's hand was forced when it came to leaving Tyrol, but it did give everything a reboot. A lot of storylines rely heavily on the location, and there are only so many times people can get caught in blizzards or avalanches without it seeming repetitive! But there was no viable reason for moving away from Switzerland - although maybe some books could have been set at Carnbach?

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 14:29 
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The Swiss school has an interesting location, but they don't interact with the local population the way they do in the Tyrol, where they had a number of students from nearby towns, and connections with people like the Pfeiffens, and local innkeepers.

I think that the spirit of the Chalet school was best suited to a small, homey school. It would have been interesting to have a Swiss branch that was fairly small (< 100 students) and composed mostly of a mix of the children of doctors and San patients, various local girls and children whose parents needed to be abroad, or were posted in Europe from England or other English speaking countries. They would have the family atmosphere, and be small enough to provide individual attention to students depending on their needs.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 22:30 
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That sounds good, Jennifer.

Even when the school first moves to Switzerland and did not have many pupils, I always imagined there were lots more but that was maybe only me.

The Platz seemed so cut off. I know staff in boarding schools must be quite restricted as regards friends, but I wonder what friends Miss Annersley, for instance had, apart from Joey, Miss Wilson, Rosalie and Mlle?

It must have been slightly difficult for her even with Rosalie and Mlle because she was their boss and this applied much more so to the rest of the staff.

Was there anyone that Hilda was especially friendly with when she first joined the staff? Miss Wilson seems to me a more sociable character.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 23:02 
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Some of the staff must have been friends with the other Old Girls on the Platz, but we never hear much about it. Nancy Wilmot and Hilary Burn were best friends from school, but, except when she first arrives, we don't hear about Nancy going to see her - although presumably she did. And we never hear of anyone visiting Biddy after she'd left.

Things do get very insular, and it's not just the lack of locals. When Kathie's off ill, they "have" to get an Old Girl in to cover: they can't possibly get an outsider. And a lot of the one book heroines are or turn out to be people's long lost relatives, as if new people can't be allowed in.

I think the main issue is that there are just too many books about the same people, though. It's nice having one book per term so that we don't miss anything, but there's only so much you can do when it's the same people book after book.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2019, 00:39 
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When the school first opens in Switzerland, the school is much smaller, but they have the exact same structure as they had the year before in England, so it doesn't feel small the way the early Tyrol school did, or when the school opened in Guernsey and had fewer forms and prefects.

They have about a hundred girls, fourteen prefects, and eight forms. (two lower fourths, two upper fourths, two fifths, two sixths). That's an average of 12.5 students per form, and one prefect for every 6 girls.

The sixth form is kind of illogical too - most of upper sixth goes to the finishing branch, and the school doesn't do public exams the first year, so you'd expect the lower sixth to mostly stay in England, at least anyone who needed exams for university or training colleges.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2019, 03:28 
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Alison H wrote:
Everyone keeps changing their friends, as well, because EBD wanted Len involved with all their new girls. Len becomes best friends with Ros, but then Ros is shoved into the background so that Len can be best friends with Ricki and Odette, the new two new girls. Then Ricki and Odette are shoved out of the way, and become friends with Con, and suddenly Len is best mates with Ros again, and they become a trio with Ted!


Yes, it's interesting how Len always had to be best friends with the newcomer even though it then meant her dropping them.

Even in Joey & Co it naturally has to be Len with whom Ruey shares when she joins the Maynard household. It is Margot though who becomes Ruey's closest friend.

I've been re-reading Redheads and although Ros is still at the school she seems to have been dropped from Len and Ted's trio. At one point she, Len, Ros and Ted are meant to be the duty prefects on a ramble but Ros is never mentioned once the ramble gets underway.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2019, 12:10 
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Poor Ros never gets any time as HG - there isn't even the usually mandatory Prefects' Meeting where jobs are handed out. EBD was dying to get on to the next book when Len takes over as HG - for a record five terms!


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2019, 14:13 
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With Joey and Mary-Lou (and even Jack Lambert) I have the feeling that they are acting on their own - the things they do and say come directly out of their personality as characters. With the triplets, I get more of a sense that they're doing things because the author told them to.

Mary-Lou butted in and looked after new girls because that's what Mary-Lou was like. But she didn't need to be best friends with every new girl - rather, she'd see that they were introduced to other girls and let it go from there. Adult Joey genuinely loves butting in to fix things, and knowing the gossip and backstories, and being the centre of attention. And Jack's annoying and impulsive and vivid and jealous, and while I don't like her very much, she's one of the more vivid of the late Swiss characters.

As Joey's eldest, Len has to be the one who always butts in and fixes things, and is the automatic leader, and is the best at everything, even when it doesn't match her personality. And we're told that it's her butting in/leadership qualities that led her to look after Jack, when it's really all Jack's doing.
And Margot, as the bad girl, has to be an eavesdropper and blackmailer in Theodora, even when she's previously been mostly impulsive and lazy, because that's what the story calls for.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2019, 20:58 
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I think Mary Lou especially took over from the author but I cannot see it so much in the other two. I don't re-read so many of the books featuring Jack because I don't like her so maybe I am missing this aspect.

I am not convinced though that the schoolgirl Joey would have turned into the OTT, self-obsessed woman of the later books, unless she did get her head turned by all the praise. I think EBD just got a bit obsessed with Joey and couldn't see past her.

The Len EBD tells us about is not the Len I see in the books who was probably a quieter, more in the background person.

Margot disappointed me in that she stayed a bit bad when she should have been " good " after Theodora. The bookends incident makes me cringe and she is quite nasty to other girls even towards the end of the series. Maybe that is human nature though and I am expecting too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2019, 21:17 
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It's the same with Con - she was supposed to be learning not to walk around with her head in the clouds, but she kept doing it anyway. No-one has a complete change in personality as a result of one argument with their siblings, or one showdown in the headmistress's study, but it was supposed to be a turning point for them all and yet they just carried on as they'd done before.

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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2019, 08:17 
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I still feel that the triplets suffer from being fractions of Joey - we're told more than once that they've divided her attributes between them, so that Len has her deep understanding of other people, Con has her imagination and her gift for writing and Margot has her sense of mischief - as if that's all there was to Joey (!), and I think nothing is said about them taking after their father in any way. So they're maybe only partly there, as far as their author is concerned, and therefore harder to work with in any meaningful sense, such as reforming the excesses of these basic stereotypes.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2019, 12:56 
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Alison H wrote:
It's the same with Con - she was supposed to be learning not to walk around with her head in the clouds, but she kept doing it anyway. No-one has a complete change in personality as a result of one argument with their siblings, or one showdown in the headmistress's study, but it was supposed to be a turning point for them all and yet they just carried on as they'd done before.

I've just re-read Lavender Laughs and that's why I like Lavender's reformation - she doesn't magically turn into Little Miss Perfect after the accident. She still breaks rules and does random things like using Miss Annersley's phone because she's so used to not having boundaries, although her rulebreaking later in the book is more well-intentioned (in that it's often done for Lilamani's benefit).

Joey and the triplets do have a bit of what TV Tropes calls Informed Ability - i.e. we're told that they are or can do something, but there's not much evidence in the text to support it. Like, Joey is supposed to have been this wonderful Head Girl who was always helping people, but the opposite was true - she was charismatic and a good leader, but didn't like helping others and found it hard to deal with people like Eustacia if they didn't see eye-to-eye with her.


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 Post subject: Re: Richenda - the one where the bigger story stops?
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2019, 20:13 
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If Margot's transformation had been followed through she would have ended up as head girl. Arguably she was more of a leader than Len. EBD would never have done that though and nor would Miss Annersley. Each triplet had to stay in her assigned role.

I wonder if it would have been easier if there had been gaps too in the later series? The characters could then have changed/matured off screen as Joey, and to a lesser extent Robin, did in the Exile gap.


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