The Wrong Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

From time to time I like to re-read my teenage favourites, which include Elinor M Brent-Dyer's lengthy 'Chalet School' series. I'm very slowly reading them all in order; the last one I read was 'Carola Storms the Chalet School', back in September. I have to admit, though, my primary reason for choosing something small and light was that I realised that I had read 99 books so far in 2011, and wanted to ensure that I finished at least one more, to make 100!

It's at least twelve years since I last read 'The Wrong Chalet School', which is 24th in the original Chalet School series for teenagers. I roughly remembered the plot... a likeable girl, Katharine Gordon, joins the school but finds several inconsistencies until eventually she discovers the reason.

I had, however, forgotten the details - that her name is not recorded quite correctly, for instance, and that two trunks arrive rather than one. She puts this kind of thing down to her scatty Aunt Luce who is an 'artistic' type, and settles down quickly. She makes some friends and is highly proficient on the tennis courts. There is concern about her parents who are abroad, working in dangerous circumstances, and an increasing mystery about Katherine's presence in the school at all...

The core of the plot relies on an extremely unlikely coincidence, but I'm sure that didn't worry me in the past, and I accepted it happily enough this time, too. I thought it basically a well-written book, for the genre; even the school parts are not too run-of-the-mill, although I admit to skipping rapidly through the inevitable end-of-term pageant at the end.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book more interesting than I had expected - possibly due to the long gap since I last read it. My version is an elderly paperback one, which is somewhat falling to pieces, but I gather that this particular book has not been much abridged in the Armada version, so I have no real impetus to get hold of a new 'Girls Gone By' full edition.

All in all, I thought it a pleasant light read. It does stand alone as a story, but is much better read as part of the series.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 24th December 2011

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