05/01/2014

The Chalet School does it again (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

Once again, I decided to read something lightweight in a busy period. So I turned, again, to Elinor M Brent-Dyer, prolific author of the 'Chalet School' series (amongst others) whose books I have enjoyed for more than forty years.

I have been trying to read them in order, over the past few years, beginning with the best-known 'The School at the Chalet' as long ago as 2009. I've dipped into a few each year, and reached about half way through the series by June of last year when I read 'Joey goes to the Oberland'. I have the books in order on my shelves - or so I thought - so, feeling like another in this series, I picked up 'The Chalet school does it again' which I last read in 2001.

It was not until I reached the end that I realised I had somehow missed out 'The Chalet School and Barbara', which I have not read since the year 2000. Not that it matters, particularly. The important point about the series at this stage is that the bulk of the school has recently returned to the Oberland, where there is also a 'finishing' branch known as Welsen for girls of 18 and 19.

In this book, Prunella is a new and rather strange girl who refuses to use any kind of informal English, and won't even abbreviate people's names. Clearly she has some secret which is hinted at but not revealed until some way through the book, when the issue is sorted out rather too quickly.

This is the spring term, and weather is bad. So when the opportunity comes for a day out to Lucerne, the girls all take advantage of it, and high spirits ensue from some of them, nearly resulting in tragedy. However, the bulk of this book is somewhat run-of-the-mill, including (in my view) over-detailed descriptions of yet another sale and a 'Welsen' pantomime. Having said that, there were a couple of surprisingly moving moments which almost brought a tear to my eye. The plots may be rather dull at times, but some of the characters are very believable.

Overall I thought this an enjoyable light read, recommended to fans of the series; on the other hand, it would be difficult to get into by anyone unfamiliar with the background and most of the people.

My copy is an Armada paperback, one of the series which was not cut when re-published by Armada. It's not in print but can often be found second hand. There was also a 'Girls Gone By' edition showing the original cover, not currently in print but still available from Amazon UK.

Review by Sue F copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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