Carola Storms the Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

Once again, wanting some light reading that would not take long, I turned to one of my favourite childhood authors, the prolific Elinor M Brent-Dyer. Since acquiring many of her Chalet School books in hardback, I have gradually been re-reading some of them, yet again.

It is many years since I read 'Carola Storms the Chalet School', which is 23rd in the original series. It follows 'Peggy of the Chalet School', which I read just a couple of weeks ago.

This book is decidedly better for being read in the original text even if it's a bit long-winded in places. I did, previously, have an Armada edition which is probably where I last read this, perhaps fifteen or so years ago. In this story, Carola is a determined but somewhat thoughtless young teenager who is bored with travelling around the world with her aunt, and runs away to the Chalet School.

Carola has not considered her aunt's feelings in this, nor what the school might do with her - nor even whether they would allow her to stay. But she ensures that she has at least some of the regulation uniform, finds out all she can about travelling to the school, and then manages to give her aunt the slip when they are about to sail to a new destination.

Life is rather stressful for a while, unsurprisingly, with nobody quite knowing what to do with this polite but determined girl - however she is fortunate to have an understanding father (working abroad) who allows her to stay. She then turns out to be an extremely good addition to the school, offering good ideas at times, and showing immense courage and self-sacrifice on a couple of occasions. Since so many of the books are about girls who do not want to go to school, or who struggle with fitting in, this one offers a different perspective in a girl who desperately DOES want to be at the Chalet School!

While I found that I remembered some of the plot, as I was reading it, I had entirely forgotten other sections. This may, of course, be because of having read it in abridged Armada form whenever I last read it.

Slightly to my surprise, since I did remember this section, I found the last couple of chapters of the book extremely moving.

Recommended to anyone who likes school stories from the middle of the twentieth century - particularly if you can find a hardback or 'Girls Gone By' edition with the original full text.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 12th September 2011

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