My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This one cracks me up, primarily because it’s such a sort of underwhelming exercise. If you’ve got this far in the series, you’re fairly committed to the Chalet School. You get it. You get the whole ‘mountains shifting position’ and the ‘Mary Lou is the second coming’ and ‘Miss Annersley’s pale blue-grey-pink-delete as applicable eyes’. You get that.
But then you get this, and it always feels to me as rather a by the numbers exercise. It is a reunion of the ‘foundation stones’ of the school, all of those from the Tyrol days, to coincide with the arrival of mean-girl Grizel at Freudesheim.
So why does it get four stars from me? It gets four stars because of the following moments. I shall give you ten and if they do not convince you then I shall eat my hat.
1. The intense discomfort Brent-Dyer has in giving Grizel her ‘happy ending’.
2. The ‘sturdy young sapling’
3. Frankly the ‘sturdy young sapling’ and the role it plays in the Grizel / Len incident gets a star for itself.
4. The fact that Sophy Hamel is ‘sonsy’.
5. The torturous white bread metaphor that is repeated. REPEATED.
6. THE PONY AND TRAP TO THE SAN THING.
7. Mary-Lou’s Pollyanna moment.
8. Bruno’s attempt at Seppuku
9. Corney Flower appears in it. This is awesome because she is Corney Flower.
10. The best piece of London geography related flirting you will ever read. “They say, if you walk down Oxford Street, you’ll run into someone you know” *bats eyelids*
Seriously, if you have got this far, you owe it to yourself to read this one and to savour the joyous banality and eccentricity that is a book at this point in the series. And if you haven’t read any of the others? For God’s sake, don’t start here. Do anything but start here. It really won’t end well.