21/03/2011

Highland Twins at the Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

Having started - albeit slowly - re-reading through most of my Elinor M Brent-Dyer collection of 'Chalet School' books, I decided to pick up another of them a few days ago.

I last read 'Highland Twins at the Chalet School' in 2003, when I enjoyed it as much as I did when I was a teenager. Possibly more so. I'm particularly pleased to have a hardback copy of this in my possession, now; it was re-printed a few years ago by 'Girls Gone By' but is not currently in print, and even the abridged Armada paperback editions tend to be expensive.

This book is the story of the orphaned eleven-year-old twins Fiona and Flora McDonald, who have lived on a small island in the highlands, educated by their sister Shiena. Now, during World War II, their island has been taken over by the Admiralty, and Shiena goes into war work.

Shiena has no idea what to do with her young sisters until a friend recommends the Chalet School to them. And since they're not used to crowds of people, and are prone to be shy, they start off by staying with Jo Maynard and her busy household.

Fiona and Flora have a secret documents which leads to a great deal of tension and excitement later in the book; Fiona also has a mystical gift which is perhaps a tad unlikely, but which is very helpful when tragic news is given to someone she cares for. In addition to these unusual subplots, there is the regular life of the school and its neighbours, with the usual friendships and welcome, as well as a few arguments and stresses.

One of the best of the Chalet School books, in my view, although I realise that teenage school stories don't appeal to everyone!

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 21st March 2011

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