Lavender Laughs at the Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

On my meandering way through re-reading the lengthy Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer, once again, I've reached 'Lavender Laughs at the Chalet School' which I last read in 2003.

Published in Armada in abridged form as 'Lavender Leigh at the Chalet School', this book isn't really anything special. It takes place in the later war years, and features a motherless girl of about twelve called Lavender who has never been to school. Instead, she has travelled around the world with her aunt, the author of a large number of children's travel guides.

However, Lavender has not been well, and her aunt has been called up for military service so their doctor recommends that Lavender join the Chalet School. It has an emphasis on good health, and looks after its girls well - and while neither of them is at all keen, Lavender's aunt realises that it's probably the best thing for her niece.

It's a theme that's followed in several of the Chalet School series; Lavender has a hard time settling down at first, partly because she has an over-inflated ego, and partly because everything is so new to her. However she turns out to be a nice girl at her core, once she gets things into perspective.

There are various school incidents, chats in the staff room, tea parties, and the almost inevitable almost-tragic accident that turns people around. Formulaic, undoubtedly, but pleasant light reading nonetheless. Worth reading as part of the series, but not a book that stands out above the others.

While I'm fortunate enough to have one of the early hardback editions of this book, and it can sometimes be found in libraries, even the Armada paperbacks tend to be expensive second-hand as it's no longer in print.

Update: in 2012 this book was be re-published with the original full content by Girls Gone By, which has the advantage of making some of the old hardback editions less expensive too.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 23rd May 2011

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