My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In the world of Girlsown literature, there’s a concept of ‘the big four’. These are authors who formed the cornerstones of this genre: Elsie “Abbey” J Oxenham, Elinor “Chalet” M.Brent-Dyer, and Angela “Let’s use all the speech tags in the world” Brazil.
Dorita Fairlie Bruce is the final part of this equation. And this is my first, ever, Dimsie.
(At last! At last! Sound the trumpets, release the hounds, let loose the dogs of war for I have read a Dimsie!)
It’s sort of strange coming to a series when you’ve almost read it through other books. The Girlsown genre really isn’t that diverse (she says, ducking her head) and once you’re familiar with the main tropes, you are more than familiar with them and how they tend to reoccur in various states. It is in how they’re presented, how they’re played with, that the newness comes and the diversity kicks in.
So what is this world of Dimsie? Dimsie Moves Up is the second in the series which presents a slight problem in itself because you’re coming to characters which are already established. If you’ve not read any before it does take a while to catch up, and yes there are moments when the time scales do seem incredibly flexible. It also took me a while to work out who I should be invested for, and why, which partially reflects the nature of the genre as well (Lord knows, if you pick up a late Chalet School you will not have a CLUE who half the people are).
But what’s brilliant is the matter-of-fact reality about Dimsie and her chums. She is a lovely character, but she’s resolutely believeable at the same time. There’s a sort of common sense about her which is (alas) pretty special in the genre. She’s not too brilliant, she’s not too priggish, she is just a really nice kid. And I think that’s probably where the strength of this book lies, in the nuances between Dimsie and her form (and in the AMAZING Anti-Soppist League).