16/12/2012

Bride Leads the Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

Continuing my gradual re-read of the lengthy Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer, and wanting some light reading for the end of busy days, I picked this up a little over a week ago.

I last read 'Bride Leads the Chalet School' over ten years ago, and had inevitably forgotten most of the detail, other than that - as happened to her sister Peggy - Bride Bettany is unexpectedly appointed Head Girl of the Chalet School, and accepts the responsibility with great reluctance.

Expecting a reasonably peaceful term with the support of her friends and fellow prefects, Bride finds herself confronted with something rather new. A supposedly progressive school nearby has closed down, and the Chalet School heads have agreed to accept quite a few pupils onto their books. Many of them are juniors, and they settle down easily enough, but the older girls have been used to a very free kind of education with little authority and no structure. They include a very pretty but rebellious girl called Diana, who refuses to accept the authority of the prefects and gives Bride an extremely hard time in many ways.

Amongst some rather run-of-the-mill lessons, and the usual lengthy description of the end-of-term sale, there are a few philosophical discussions about education, outlining a few of the ideas of the time - and it becomes clear that the author was very against autonomous learning, despite her progressive theories about inductive teaching and the importance of leisure time to balance work.

I don't think this book is particularly special, as the Chalet School books go, but there were some interesting moments and overall pleasant light reading.

Not currently in print, although a 'Girls Gone By' edition was published in 2011 and is sometimes available. The Armada paperback version can often be found in second-hand shops. It was not drastically abridged from the hardback version, so is worth picking up if you enjoy this kind of teenage fiction.

Copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 2012

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