Changes for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Changes for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I remembered how much I love these books when I got to the part where one character vaults out of the window and vanishes. Honestly, I think I cackled for a week over that one and I will probably cackle until the end of time. These books are so great, I love them.

So plot! Is there plot? It’s vague at best and involves the brief cameo of pirate treasure (I mean), Hot Commander Christie, pigs in the orchard, and a school that’s packing up to move to Switzerland. It’s time to leave the island behind and so we must have a (naturally) riotous regatta, high-jinks on swampy bits of islands (I never really follow this bit and I don’t quite think EBD does either, we’re just here for the drama), the reappearance of the Canadian troupe (a welcome cameo from Madge Russell here), a lot of lounging on deckchairs (amazing) and also a lot (a lot) of Packing Up Stuff. Honestly, if you’re into logistics, you’ll love this one. I remember being absolutely amazed at how these kids could be sent to boarding school (not a cheap thing, I think) and then legitimately be farmed off to pack up the library or sort out the old sports cupboards. I was comforted on this read to know that I still felt the same.

And yet even in all of this, it’s lovely because we get that incredibly specific and detailed minutiae that this series thrives on. Everybody has a kid! People come back! Pivotal friendships are formed! Gangs are split! Somebody has an attack of the hiccoughs that sees them end up being sent to bed under the care of Matron! It’s amazing and honestly, I feel we should produce this book to anybody who says: “look, Kids Books should have Plot and a Clearly Defined Antagonist” and go “dudes, but what about this one with lots of adults having a moan in the staffroom and the kids packing boxes”.

Ugh, I love it, I love it.

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6 thoughts on “Changes for the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

  1. Got to love the quality mischief of simply hopping out of a window. When my youngest’s school reopened after lockdown… with all windows open for increased ventilation, some of the more _restless_ kids in the class started a new game of jump-out-the-window. Then the teacher had to go round to the nearest door to shout them back in… and they hopped back in through the window…. and then as teacher walked back to the classroom, ready to give them a row… they went out the window again… some days of class time were effectively lost to this activity, until sufficient disciplinary measures were enacted. (I would have had considerable difficulty in refraining from laughing tbh)

  2. I’m sure there was something going on between Michael Christy and Hilda Annersley, and that he jumped out of the window to impress her by showing how fit and athletic he was! And I do miss Madge and Jem from the later books.

  3. I’m a librarian, so the details of how to split up the library and how to transport that many books is interesting to me! But I didn’t read this one as a child, so I think the kid appeal might have been lacking. I skim the regatta and re-read the part where Miss Slater is shunned for having ambition and disliking Margot Maynard, both very defensible positions to me.

    1. That is *so* interesting that bit about Miss Slater, right? It’s so rare you get to see actual dislike for the kids expressed in books like this and yet EBD does it quite happily a few times (Joyce Linton and Miss Norman (?) for one, I think).

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