The Chalet School Goes to it (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

There's nothing like a favourite childhood novel for relaxed weekend reading. So I decided to pick up another Elinor M Brent-Dyer from my collection.

I'm fortunate enough to have a hardback version of 'The Chalet School Goes to it'. In the 1980s, when re-published by Armada, the abridged version of this was re-titled 'The Chalet School at War', which was, perhaps, a more suitable title. However, in recent years the 'Girls Gone By' publishers have produced another version with the full text, and the original title.

In this story, which follows on from 'The Chalet School in Exile', war conditions have become an everyday reality. The school staff decide that it would be safest to move the school, yet again, from Guernsey to Armiford, nestled in the West of England. Out of the blue the perfect building is offered to them... along with Gwensi, a rather angry child who does not in the least want her lovely home taken over by noisy schoolgirls.

It's many years since I'd read this book - I'm not sure why, as I've re-read most of Brent-Dyer's lengthy series many times. I didn't find it as moving or powerful as one or two of the other books written around this time, but it was still a solid, mostly interesting account of everyday boarding school life in the 1940sunder rather stressful conditions.

This book, if nothing else, could be considered as a nice piece of low-key social history, too, with the girls observing blackouts and 'digging for victory' while, mostly, safe from the worst horrors of the war.

Joey Maynard and her famous triplets feature, as ever, including quite an exciting crossing from Guernsey. And there's a slightly far-fetched episode in a secret passage, no doubt included to add to the excitement of the book. Not as run-of-the-mill as some of the later Chalet School stories, with plenty going on outside of the school.


Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 14th March 2011

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