Monday, February 17, 2020

The School at the Chalet by Elinor M Brent-Dyer

This story brings at once the familiar and the exotic.  1920s’ readers will be familiar with school and relationships between school girls. Some aspects of school life will also be familiar to the 21st century reader. We have the story lines of several differently aged girls but as children like to read “up” – often reading about youngsters aged about two years older than themselves, this will appeal to the upper primary reader. Few of them ’ however, will be familiar with boarding school and even those that are and who are 1920s’ middle class or even upper middle class will be less familiar with Austria and the Alps.

For the 21st century reader the exoticism comes in another way.  There is perhaps nothing so exciting about the Tyrol anymore.  Yet the way of life will be alien to them – shared dorms, cold baths and a strange language. Even the young reader may marvel at the relatively young headteacher Madge.  She is only in her twenties.      

There is plenty of tension and pace.  There are complex relationships between the girls. Headteacher Madge Bettany perhaps offers a role-model for the readers to aspire to, offering food for thought as they transit form primary school to secondary school.
The text is 204 pages long, blocked and in a tight font.  A real book, but not too long.   

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