30/11/2010

A United Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

Somehow, once I start dipping into Elinor M Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books, they become almost compulsive. I know better than to read a large number in a row - they start to seem 'samey' and dull - but interspersed with others, I enjoy them very much despite having read them all at least two or three times since I first discovered them in my early teens.

However, since I had just completed the Armada version of 'The New Chalet School', which in fact is only the first part of the original with the same name, it seemed like a good idea to follow it immediately with 'A United Chalet School', which contains the second part of the same original volume. It contains events in the second half of the summer term which started with the Chalet School taking over the girls from St Scholastika's, and the Russell family buying the old 'Saints' building.

This is a thin volume in paperback, not quite 100 pages. Excitements revolve around some escapades on the roof of St Clare's, and a half-term trip to Salzberg with a dangerous return journey. Gradually the girls from St Scholastika's start to feel like 'real' Chalet School girls, particularly the older ones - a little to their surprise - as they unite to deal with naughty Middles and other problems.

This is definitely best read after the first part of 'The new Chalet School'. I don't remember having read this one for many years and couldn't recall any of the plot. Perhaps it's twenty or more years since I last read it.

There's good characterisation, as ever, and the writing is fast-paced. I hesitate to recommend it whole-heartedly, since it's not one of my absolute favourites, and the different people and references to previous events would no doubt prove confusing to anyone not well-versed in the Chalet School. But, for those of us who have known and loved the Chalet School since childhood, this is an interesting book that's well worth reading.

Not, alas, in print currently, but sometimes spotted on charity shop shelves. The rather pricey link shown above is to a combined edition with this and the next in the series.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 30th November 2010

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