Prefects of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
There’s a sort of addictive quality to the Chalet School series when you reach this point; an awareness that the best books are many moons behind us and somehow all that’s left is melodrama and farce, but it’s a melodrama and farce that you just can’t quite give up yet.
And then, suddenly it’s over and all you can do is go “Oh … is that it?”
All good things come to an end, and the Chalet School outlived its natural end point by many many books. This final installment is tired and more than a little bit sad when you look back and consider the epic wonders we’ve lived through to get here. And we’ve lived through a lot together. A disproportionate amount of hot doctors, Joey-will-get-well moments, St Bernards, and the eternal oh heck look it’s a natural disaster moment. I love these books. I just do not love this saggy, deflated ending. And, to be fair, it’s a deflation that doesn’t start here but rather kicks in somewhere around A Future Chalet School Girl.
Prefects comes straight after Althea Joins the Chalet School, so the opening chapters will baffle you if you’ve not read Althea. (“Pink worm? What’s this about a pink worm? And SPEEDBOATS?). There’s also a mildly confusing (and somewhat sudden) friendship between Jocelyn Marvell, Althea Glenyon and Erica Standish in a sort of “cameo-of-the-last-few-books” moments.
It’s the final term of the Maynard triplets, and Len in particular is stuffed with a particularly thrilling sounding future. If you’ve not read it, I won’t spoil, but I will offer counselling once you read the offending moment in question.
Other things of note in this book include an incredibly bizarre moment where a gang of youths head towards the San with intention of kidnapping a millionaire’s daughter who’s a patient there. The racket they make wakes everyone up in the school and they all get into a bit of a tizzy. It’s an incident worthy of mention primarily because of the fact that Mary-Lou randomly arrives at the school in the middle of it, after having apparently hitched a lift up with the police. In the middle of the night. With the intention of bobbing over to Freudesheim and asking for a bed. There are moments when you can understand why Jack Maynard does what he does in The Chalet Girls Grow Up.
Can you tell I find this title a rather depressing experience over all? There’s a sense of everybody being farmed off and packaged up for their respective fates, and an increasingly anachronistic feel to the schools very presence. This isn’t what I signed up for, and it’s not why I love these books so much. I’m going to read myself some The Princess of the Chalet School to recover.
4 thoughts on “Prefects of the Chalet School : Elinor M. Brent-Dyer”
I have to confess, I haven’t read all the Chalet School books so I really enjoy reading your reviews for the ones I haven’t read. Of course, now I am really curious about the offending moment so maybe I’ll have to get this one.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over the crushing disappointment I felt the first time I read Prefects. My grandparents’ local library had a lot of CS hbs and I borrowed Prefects and Reunion one half term. This was at a time when I’d only read about half of the books and I was so excited – Armada were still in the white spine phase. Prefects was just so…blah. I’d expected something great, but instead we had Len and “like it darling?”, and a fair quantity of tedium. Still better than Two Sams though…
There are a whole world of fans who have been destroyed by the awfulness of that proposal!