13/10/2015

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

In my gradual re-read of the entire Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer, I’ve reached the one numbered either 43 or 38, depending on how they’re counted. My edition is a hardback that used to belong to my mother, although I had previously - probably at least twenty years ago - read the abridged Armada version.

The books were originally written for teenage girls, in the first half of last century, but nowadays are probably enjoyed more by mothers and grandmothers who enjoyed them in their own childhood or teenage years.

‘Excitements for the Chalet School’ follows directly on from ‘New Mistress at the Chalet School’, which I re-read a few weeks ago. It continues to feature the interesting form known as ‘Inter V’ which has a mixture of ages and abilities, and whose form mistress is Kathie Ferrars. Kathie is now in her second term and a great deal more confident.

Unfortunately, despite the title, it’s not a particularly exciting book. The idea of a ‘Coming of Age’ celebration in the summer is mooted, and the girls come up with suggestions to mark the occasion. There are a few minor pranks and upsets, an educational expedition that - as usual - I rather skimmed, a pantomime which is fraught with problems, and an unexpected (and not entirely welcome) visitor to the school whose story seems to vanish entirely by the end.

Part of me is glad that the author kept writing even when there didn’t seem to be much to inspire her. I picked this up to read after a rather draining and lengthy novel I had just completed, wanting something easy and relaxing. From that point of view, it fit the bill nicely. I always like delving into Chalet School life, and I didn’t really remember anything about this book. But then, it’s not exactly memorable.

There’s not much more to say, really. Fans of the series will want to read it, as I did; but it’s not one I’d dip into randomly, nor would I recommend it as a starting point to the series. It’s a pity because I very much enjoyed ‘New Mistress…’, and it was a little disappointing that Kathie’s second term was so flat, from the reader's perspective.

The link above is to the abridged Armada version, which is fairly widely available second-hand. If you can find a hardback original, or indeed a facsimile 'Girls Gone By' edition at reasonable cost, or in your library, I would recommend those by preference; but I don't think it's not worth paying a great deal for this unexciting installment in the Chalet School annals.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

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