Changes for the Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

I've been a fan of Elinor M-Brent-Dyer's books since I first discovered some of her early Chalet School books (in hardback!) on my grandmother's shelves when I was perhaps nine or ten. I managed to read the entire series during my teenage years, and again as an adult; I now have the full set, and am slowly re-reading them.

I last read 'Changes for the Chalet School' in 2001. Depending on how you count them, this is around number 32 in the lengthy series - around half way through. It follows directly on from 'Bride leads the Chalet School'. Big changes are afoot in this story: the school is, at last, planning to return to the Euroepean continent. Not to Austria, yet - this is set in the late 1940s and the war is still too recent - but Switzerland, not far from where the finishing branch at Welsen was started a year or two previously.

Bride Bettany is still Head Girl, and the Maynard triplets return from Canada at last, stronger and more confident now they are twelve. Margot strikes up a friendship with the unpredictable Emerence Hope, much to the dismay of the authorities, but is persuaded to work hard after being placed in a form much lower than that of her sisters.

In some ways this is a run-of-the-mill Chalet School book, featuring regular school events and conversations, and a rather tedious amount of detail in the end-of-term regatta. The author managed to build up some very likeable, believable characters in these books, including the Bettany and Maynard families, and some of the more unusual girls. But the lists of winners in the various water events seemed entirely unnecessary, as if a couple of chapters had to be filled up before the end.

Still, regatta apart, this is an important book in the series as it shows the school packing up for a permanent - and planned - removal from the island where they have been so happy for the past few years.

Not particularly recommended, unless you are a fan of the series and/or are reading the entire set. It isn't currently in print and seems to be very over-priced at Amazon, but it's often found inexpensively in charity shops.  The paperback Armada version is quite acceptable and has not been much abridged from the original.

Review copyright suesbookreviews, March 2013

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