Book of the Week, children's books

Book of the Week: The Chalet School Wins the Trick

As mentioned yesterday, very much a week on my sickbed last week with a lot of rereading going on, which left an interesting array of options for today – so I’ve setttled on a sort of re-read – I’ve read the abridged version of Chalet School Wins the Trick before, but never the original version, so here we are, another week another Girls Own pick! Apologies for the slightly gloomy/shadowy picture – it’s so overcast here you would not believe

The Chalet School Wins the Trick is number 46 in the series and in many ways could be considered Peak Chalet School Tropes. But I’ll come back to that. First, lets have the plot: Just before the start of term, Miss Dene catches a group of children trying to start a campfire in the middle of the school’s best cricket pitch. She sends them along their way – but the group swear they’ll get their revenge on the school. Thus the summer term is marked by a series of pranks pulled by the quintet affecting the pupils, the staff and ex pupils.

So if you were playing Elinor Brent Dyer Bingo, this would get you a full house. We have: Joey saves the day, Mary Lou Butts in, Joan Baker being “not the right type”, sick parents/relatives at the San where the children don’t know, very weird medical treatments (a scalded arm into a vat of flour), lots of unaccompanied Child Wandering, a fete, a death of (another) parent, women’s careers being thrown over because of housework and the all time great – a massive continuity fluff within the same book. I think the only thing its missing is Joey singing someone out of an illness/coma!

As with so many reviews of Girls Own stuff that I write, this is not a book that you can easily get hold of – and nor do I recommend you to, unless you’re already interested in the oevre. It was one of the rarer books – it is from 1961, so fairly late in the series and so it had less time to be reprinted than the earlier ones. And it is full of references to escapades in previous books, which might get tiresome if you haven’t read them. If you’ve never read a Chalet School book, you should probably start with Chalet School in Exile – which is probably EBD’s best book – grappling with how to deal with a British school in Austria as the Nazis swept through Europe and what women and girls could do about it. It’s not your normal school story. Other than that, you could always start at the beginning.

1 thought on “Book of the Week: The Chalet School Wins the Trick”

  1. Of course, Verity, your many readers may want to know that this reissue of the Chalet School book is published by Girls Gone By Publishing, a niche publishing company that operates in England. It has a long list of old books by many authors, including Elinor Brent Dyer of the “Chalet School” series, Malcolm Saville, Elizabeth Goudge, and others — books and authors that were once very popular, but that went out of print for decades, and were only available as much-loved battered second-hand copies, or expensive collectors’ editions. Girls Gone By Publishing reprints are outstanding quality with excellent informative introductions. They sell online, and at Amazon, and their web-site is well worth exploring.

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