The Feud in the Chalet School (by Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

In slowly meandering my way through Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s long Chalet School series, over the past few years, I’ve reached the one originally numbered 48th, immediately following ‘A Future Chalet School Girl’ - although, oddly enough, the ‘future’ girl Melanie does not appear in this one.

Instead, ‘The Feud in the Chalet School’ introduces quite a number of new characters, in the form of a new English school called St Hilda’s that is about to start not far away from the Chalet School in Switzerland. Unfortunately, disaster ensues and St Hilda’s building is no longer usable, while their Head ends up in hospital. So, as the Chalet School has recently expanded its premises, they adopt the forty or so St Hilda’s girls and their three other staff, initially for a term.

It’s a tricky situation and rivalries inevitably begin, not helped at all by one of St Hilda’s staff who is rather self-important and resents being a mere junior mistress at the Chalet School. The story then follows school lessons and life, including some winter sports and - for a slight variation - a few incidents with cats.

The later books rather lose out without the strong and intuitive personalities of Jo Maynard and Mary-Lou. Jo does appear in this book, in passing, but doesn’t have much of a role, and her daughter Len - who is closest to following the same path - doesn’t feature heavily either. The focus is mainly on the younger girls and their feud, which makes for some interesting storylines, but none of the girls from either school stand out as any different from the others.

Each chapter is another incident, along typical Chalet School lines: prefects’ meetings, lessons, sports, boredom leading to mischief, and so on. There’s a sad loss of a former staff member which could have raised a tear or two, but it’s all off-stage and used mainly as a plot point for the ongoing feud.

I’m sure I must have read this book as a teenager, and probably at least once in the intervening years, but I have no memory of it at all. So while it wasn’t anything special, it made a pleasant enough light read for a few evenings.

Not currently in print, but fairly widely available in paperback second-hand. I have an early hardback edition, but it has a few errors (such as incorrect names) and over-much detail in places, which was most likely reduced in the Armada paperbacks.

Review copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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