The Rivals of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

This is such a good cover!!

The Rivals of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I realised recently that I have a handful of books left to do before I have reviewed the entire Chalet School series and so, I headed off to Rivals to start ticking them off. It had been a while since I’d read it and so I’d sort of forgotten some of the finer detail of it. And then I remembered that it’s the one with the Klu Klux Klan references. And “still, grey and to all appearances dead”. And the singing of the Red Sarafan. And the poison pen letters.


So. Yes. Where on earth does one begin with reviewing that? The KKK stuff is a startling and weird thing to find in a series so heavily concerned with multinationalism and cultural integration (albeit with certain ‘as long as you’re middle class or upper, thank you very much’ caveats), so I guess the best I can do here is to go “that is a hideous reference EBD ” and acknowledge how horribly it’s dated and this is a book from a certain period and time and there we are, ick, bleurgh, the end.

And the rest of it! The highest highs, the lowest lows, and somewhere in between the chaotic melodrama that is this series at its best! There is a deathbed scene that always makes me cry even though it is, if you study it very very critically, slightly ridiculous. There is an other school who we must DISLIKE and then LIKE, an anonymous letter episode which is OUTSTANDING drama and features quite the mean girl, and there’s even a bit where Frieda who is a bit gentle and wet sometimes (sorry) goes all Action (wo)Man. Epic, ridiculous, amazing, melodramatic, and then there’s an infectious illness as well!


(Banging cover, though. Good work Nina K Brisley).

View all my reviews

2 thoughts on “The Rivals of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

  1. I don’t think she had a clue what the KKK were really like, which is very odd as they had a revival in the 1920s and some of what they did was so bad that it must have been reported in the British press. I’m not convinced that she’d even read the Elsie books, because she’d have been horrified by how anti-Catholic they were and she never mentions that. What I want to know is that was the naughty book with which Vera was “sullying her mind” – it was probably something that’d seem quite mild now, but it sounds extremely shocking 🙂 !

    1. I think you’re right – I did wonder about the Elsie connection and how it came about. It’s such an odd reference to pull upon and one, as you rightly say, which doesn’t work out.

      (Also what WAS Vera reading?? The eternal mystery!)

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