Joey and Co in Tirol (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

In my slow and sporadic re-reading of Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s lengthy school series which I enjoyed so much as a teenager and young adult, I’ve reached a section of the annals where I’m a lot less familiar with the storylines. I was particularly pleased to find that this, number 47 in the series (or 43, in the original hardbacks) is another of the holiday-time books rather than being yet another one set in the Chalet School itself.

I haven’t read ‘Joey and Co in Tirol’ for probably twenty years or more, and it’s probably only the third time I’ve read it in all. It features - unsurprisingly - Joey Maynard and some of her family on holiday in their new chalet in the Austrian Tirol. Joey has been quite tired and she’s supposed to be having a rest.

However, resting is not really Joey’s style, and it’s not long before her triplet daughters, now teenagers, get to know the three Richardsons - Roger is sixteen, Ruey fourteen and Roddy must be about twelve. The three are staying in a small chalet across the lake; they lost their mother recently, and their father is a scatty academic who leaves them to their own devices most of the time. They’re a responsible trio, and Ruey tries to keep house and look after her family, but life isn’t easy for them at all…

The story is character-based, as with most of this author’s writing, and covers the few weeks when the Maynards and the Richardsons become closer. Joey can’t help butting in and the result is more responsibility for her and her husband Jack - but she thrives on it.

Inevitably there’s much that’s old-fashioned (the book was originally published in 1960) and I rolled my eyes a little at some of the author’s oft-repeated phrases and values, such as Joey’s golden tones, or her insistence on her small offspring being on a schedule. But there’s a great deal of warmth too: for the period, Jo and Jack are very relaxed parents: they expect a lot of their children, but they treat them very much as equals by the time they’re in their teens. They never bear grudges, and if they must issue punishments, they start each day with a clean slate.

I found myself enjoying this book very much, reading at odd moments in the day as well as bedtime, and since I’d entirely forgotten the plot there were places where I smiled, one or two moments which were quite moving.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys the series; while there are references to earlier Chalet School books, this could probably stand alone as it’s complete in itself.

Not currently in print, but can sometimes be found second-hand.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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