14/09/2003

The Chalet School and Jo (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

I've enjoyed Elinor M Brent-Dyer's books about the Chalet School since I was a teenager, and often sit down to one in a spare hour or so. They're great escapism, with the most wonderful characters and gentle plots.

'The Chalet School and Jo' is one of the earlier books in the series. Jo, sister of Madge (founder of the school) is appointed Head Girl of the Chalet School. She doesn't want to do this job in the least - she wants to have fun while she's still there! - but reluctantly accepts the post, and determines to make the best of it.

Robin, Jo's ten-year-old adopted sister, is very frail. Jo grieves, as they're afraid that Robin is likely to develop TB, the illness that took her mother.

Meanwhile, Juliet, an older friend, is snubbed by the sister of the man she loves. And at the same time, the 'Middles' of the school find an orphan urchin whom they decide in their wisdom to adopt, without letting anyone else know.

The school also go to Oberammagau to see the Passion Play.

It's a nice book, and good to see Jo - who's an important person in the entire series of 50+ books - begin to grow up and take increased responsibility for her actions. But, reading it in the Armada abridged edition anyway, it felt more like a series of incidents in short stories rather than a novel.

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