Jo of the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Jo of the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #2)Jo of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s very little to say about the early Chalet School books other than to rhapsodise over how awfully lovely they are. And they are. They are like snow on the day when you don’t have to go to school. There’s something other worldly about them at this point in the series and it is something rather special and beautiful.

So! Here we are. It is only book two and the school is still finding its feet. We are on the side of the bluest lake in all of Austria and it includes one of my most favourite moments in the entire series. It’s no spoiler to say that there is a point in this book where Joey disappears and nobody knows where she has got to. Dear wonderful Simone insists on looking for her inside the piano. How glorious a sentence is that? There is everything in this series inside that moment; the earnest belief in ones abilities, the knowledge that Jo is a skinigallee (sp, naturally), and the glorious innocence that characterises so much about these early books. It’s lovely. I adore you young Simone and a part of me wishes you’d retained that romantic dippiness of yours for ever.

The Robin makes her debut in this book and I remember spending hours studying the pages and wondering when she lost her ‘The’. That still fascinates me. The Robin (oh lord, I’m doing it now) is rather lovely here and winsome and a welcome addition to the cast (and one, might I add, who should have had more book than she did, but I digress, yet again).

The other thing that Jo of the Chalet School benefits from, quite immensely, is that Madge is still on the scene. She’s such a glorious character; vivid, sharp and lovely and rather inspirational in her own way. What a character she is, and [potential spoiler alert] what a shame she gets married off so swiftly.

But again, I digress.

What makes this series so glorious in its early days is this sense of greatness about it. You feel that this is real. You feel that this is happening. You feel that this is, to paraphrase a certain somebody else, a very great adventure and you feel privileged to be a part of it. And even now, even 88 years later (!), you can feel that there is something quite beautiful and pure and elegant and joyful about these stories and that is a something which deserves to be treasured.

Plus there’s Rufus.

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6 thoughts on “Jo of the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

  1. I completely agree with you about Madge, but I can’t see the spoiler either, for some reason. I’m shocked to learn that it’s 88 years since Jo of the CS was published!

    • I know! I had the same thing when I realised how old it was.

      (Thank you for letting me know re the spoiler tag – I think it works on Goodreads but doesn’t import over. I shall take it off forthwith!)

  2. This was the first Chalet book I ever read – found in my Christmas stocking when I was about 8 or 9 – my sister got Rivals. I didn’t speak a word the rest of the day, too busy reading. But the next one I got (this was in the bad old days of Armada’s eccentric publishing schedule) was either Genius or Mary Lou – can’t remember now which – but do remember how confused I was by lack of Grizel or Frieda or Simone or – anyone at all! Then this Aunty Jo character turned up and the horrible realisation dawned – this was Jo! A grown up! With children! Took me weeks to get over it. In the end I came to terms with it, and grew to love that era too, and the Channel Islands and Wales and all of it – but the Tyrol is still my favourite. As you say, special and magical.

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