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

Re-reading most of the Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer (interspersed with other books) I pulled this one off my shelves on Sunday as something ultra-light.

I last read 'The Chalet School and the Island' in 2000. I realise that in my current re-reading of the series, I have missed out both 'Tom Tackles the Chalet School' and 'The Chalet School and Rosalie', which I haven't read since 2001; however, I mostly remembered what happened in them, and don't recall them being particularly special.

In this book, the Chalet School moves to the island of St Briavel's after problems with the drains at Plas Howell. I don't quite understand why yet another move was necessary from the plot point of view, other than to introduce the likeable Dickie Christie and her disabled sister Cherry, but I'd have thought they could have been introduced in the regular way of new families in the series.

I now wonder if this book was written simply so that Brent-Dyer could pass on information about bird-watching, and sea-birds in particular. There's a great deal of it - the school meets Kester Bellever who is a bird expert, and there are many pages of questions and explanation about birds of the UK. I mostly skimmed them, but this might be of interest to people after facts about birds - although I doubt if anyone would read a school story to find such information.

As for the school itself, being by the sea enables them to start water sports and hold a regatta, as well as dealing with day-to-day problems. There are a few potentially scary moments when a rebellious girl tries to run away and gets caught in a storm, after a most unpleasant letter from her aunt... but otherwise it's a fairly run-of-the-mill Chalet School book. Pleasant light reading but nothing special.

Currently out of print, but frequently available second-hand, at charity shops or from the Amazon Marketplace.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 2nd August 2011

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