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YMMV / Chalet School

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Joey a lovable Genki Girl who embodies the spirit of the school, or an immature weirdo who won't let go of her childhood and has some serious growing up to do?
    • Miss Bubb: a Sadist Teacher and an example of Tyrant Takes the Helm, or a well-meaning teacher who wanted good results and was undermined too often?
    • Eustacia Benson: a horrible little brat, or seriously misunderstood by the authorities?
    • The Chalet School itself: the school every girl would have dreamed of going to, or a repressive, ultra-conformist Crapsaccharine World?
  • Broken Base:
    • The Swiss era. Some fans like the books and the new characters, while others feel the series went down the pan around this time.
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    • Most Chalet School books written by other authors after EBD's death, such as Peace Comes to the Chalet School, have been received favourably by fans. The Chalet Girls Grow Up, however, is an exception. Some fans love its Darker and Edgier nature, while others think it's downright horrible, and a mockery of EBD's work.
  • Canon Defilement: As stated above, many fans considered The Chalet Girls Grow Up to be this because of the way many of the characters are handled. To be more precise: Miss Wilson, Madge and Jem are all killed off offscreen; Jack - a devout Catholic - is Driven to Suicide; Joey gets Alzheimer's and becomes increasingly eccentric and senile, with her books failing to sell; Len is in an abusive marriage with Reg Entwhistle, who leaves her for Mary-Lou, and one of her daughters dies of meningitis; Con has several affairs with men who don't love her and writes Mills & Boon-esque romances; Clem Barras gets a divorce; and the school itself is closed down and then bulldozed.
  • Double Standard: The contrasting way certain characters' attitudes to men are handled, probably because of their backgrounds. Nice Christian girls Marie and Frieda talk about getting married and having babies? Perfectly OK. Sweary, fish-and-chips-eating, working-class Joan Baker talks about 'boys' to the other girls? She's clearly some kind of corrupt influence and it's perfectly fine for Mary-Lou Trelawney to pretend to befriend her while actually planning to reform her.
    • Speaking of Mary-Lou, there are arguably some major double standards applied to her in-universe. She can be as cheeky as she wants to the teachers because it's her way, but you get the impression other girls wouldn't get away with the same thing. Also, 'sneaking' is considered a crime in the Chalet School - Miss Wilson tells Eustacia where to go when she tries it - yet there are no repercussions when she runs off to the Maynards to talk about Joan Baker in Problem for the Chalet School.
    • It's doubtful whether any girl outside the MBR families would not have been expelled for knocking Betty Landon out with a bookend. Thekla von Stift is expelled and told that had she caused Mrs. Linton to worry by getting Joyce Linton into trouble, Mrs. Linton could have died and she could have been a potential murderess! However, Margot - who could have easily killed someone - gets off with a ticking-off from Miss Annersley and not much else, and Betty is blamed for being 'tactless'!
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Gaudenz, the school handyman who appears in the Swiss books, has his fair share of fangirls.
    • Joan Baker has a sizeable fandom, particularly among the more cynical Chalet School fans who see her as a Working-Class Hero and sympathise with her for never quite fitting in, even after she reforms.
  • Fair for Its Day: This essay goes into more detail.
  • Fan Nickname: 'OOAO' for Mary-Lou, short for 'Our One And Only', 'MBR' for the Maynard / Bettany / Russell families, and 'EBDisms' for the author's various plot holes and inconsistencies.
  • Fridge Horror: It's implied in Adrienne that if Robin hadn't turned up and saved the day, Adrienne's evil landlady would have sold her into prostitution.
  • Glurge: To the more cynical modern reader, some of the books can come across as immensely glurgey, particularly the ones with heavy emphasis on religion.
  • Growing the Beard: The wartime books, particularly Exile, Goes To It and Highland Twins, which are believed to contain some of EBD's best and most powerful writing, not to mention that the idea of separating Germans from Nazis - see the entire Peace League plotline, and the more sympathetic German and Tyrolean characters - was pretty ahead of its time. Characters such as Verity-Ann Carey and Lavender Leigh who make nasty remarks about Germans are called on it by other girls, particularly the ones who were with the school in the Tyrol.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Grizel Cochrane, the resident Broken Bird. Yes, she can be a real bitch to the younger and less cynical kids, and a lot of the pupils are scared of her when she becomes a teacher, but she has a terrible relationship with her father and stepmother, and suffers some pretty nasty injuries throughout the series. Plus she never wanted to be a music teacher in the first place and only trained as one because her father would have cut her off otherwise.
    • Eustacia Benson doesn't do herself any favours by being rude, arrogant and unfriendly towards the other girls from Day 1, telling tales, and making nasty comments about everything from Catholics to the local peasantry. However, she is the result of an upbringing by two parents who were clueless about children, both of whom died when she was young, and is later packed off to her aunt's house, where she does not get on at all with her male cousins. As this thread points out, the school could have handled her better and made more of an effort to understand her, instead of just writing her off as a hopeless case.
    • Lavender Leigh is a horrible little brat, and like Eustacia, her preciousness and habit of grassing the other girls up makes her unpopular, but it's hard not to feel sorry for her when all the other girls in her form - even the nice ones like Peggy and Bride Bettany - make a huge point of ignoring her for days, and she spends most of her time feeling lonely and miserable and crying herself to sleep. As someone who's been carted around the world by her ditzy aunt, she's not remotely used to being with kids her own age and has no idea how to behave.
    • Naomi Elton may be guilty of Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery in Trials, but as she reveals to Mary-Lou, she's got a good reason to be bitter and have little faith in G-d. Her parents were killed in the same car crash that disabled her for life, and she had to give up her dreams of being a ballerina.
  • Les Yay: Bifauxnen Tom Gay might have a little crush on Daisy Venables.
    • Tom herself is on the receiving end of this in Rosalie when Rosalie Way, who she's been told to look after, develops a massive crush on her. Tom finds it very uncomfortable.
    • Kathie Ferrars and Nancy Wilmot are a popular pairing in Chalet School fandom. In The Chalet Girls Grow Up, a couple of characters even speculate that the two are more than friends.
  • Never Live It Down: Joey will never let Con forget her remark about Daniel biting the lions in one of her Cloud Cuckoolander moments in The Chalet School Does It Again.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Yes, even the Chalet School books have this. One particularly chilling example is in Triplets, when a mentally ill woman, Frau Schumacher, kidnaps Cecil while she and the second twins are on a walk with Rösli, the nanny. When the triplets go to rescue her with Bruno in tow, Frau Schumacher snaps and strangles Len, and is only stopped when Jack pulls a Big Damn Heroes and sedates her. Joey later reveals that Frau Schumacher's daughter, also called Cecilie, died when she was three, and Frau Schumacher subsequently went insane and, on seeing Cecil Maynard, genuinely believed Cecil was her own child.
  • The Scrappy: Mary-Lou is disliked by a good few fans for being a self-righteous goody-two-shoes (particularly when she's a prefect), and getting away with talking smack to the teachers because 'it's not cheek, it's Mary-Lou' (see Double Standard above). It doesn't help when EBD makes Kathie Ferrars look like an unreasonable bad guy when she - quite understandably - has a problem with Mary-Lou's over-familiarity in A New Mistress at the Chalet School. Merryn Williams evidently hated her, judging how she made Mary-Lou behave towards Len in The Chalet Girls Grow Up.
    • Jack Lambert is disliked by some fans due to her bullying of Jane Carew, obsession with Len and general Alpha Bitch behaviour, especially given the possibility that, had the series continued, EBD would have made her the new heroine after the triplets left.
    • Reg Entwistle, for his unromantic proposal to Len Maynard in Prefects, and for coming across as quite possessive of Len, which may have inspired his less-than-favourable portrayal in The Chalet Girls Grow Up.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Not all Germans or Austrians supported the Nazis, and it's not fair to hate all Germans just because of Hitler. Both Verity-Ann Carey and Lavender Leigh are roundly condemned for anti-German sentiments (Verity-Ann angers Mr Denny and shocks other students by refusing to sing German carols, while Lavender calls the Peace League 'unpatriotic' and Bride quickly shuts her up to stop her making a fool of herself even further).
    • Julie Lucy finds out the hard way in Bride that trying to tough it out when you're in extreme pain isn't always a good idea. Her stomach pains turn out to be peritonitis, a dangerous illness in those days, though she recovers.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Usually, when any serious problems come up, the female characters have to stand aside and let the male characters take over. Particularly jarring when you consider how few male characters there are compared to female ones.
  • Take That!: Lavender Leigh and the Lavender Laughs travel books may possibly be one to Christopher Robin and AA Milne.
    • Summer Term features a Take That! to the beatnik culture of the 1950s, when some beatnik girls get on a train and Joey makes some very disparaging remarks about their appearance and behaviour.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The Armada abridged versions get this treatment, due to cuts being made by the publishers. While some changes were positive, such as getting rid of the Funetik Aksents of characters such as the McDonald twins, some books had important plot elements missing. In some books such as Highland Twins and Ruey Richardson, Chaletian, entire chapters were cut out of the books. Girls Gone By Publishers remedied this by re-publishing the unabridged books, albeit without EBD's typos.
  • What an Idiot!: Someone should have told Miss Ashley in A Feud in the Chalet School that when a much-loved art teacher dies, and you're with two members of staff who are clearly very upset about his death, the appropriate response is not something along the lines of "Oh, he's finally dead, that means St Hilda's can have his house."
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Althea Joins the Chalet School is one of the odder books in the series. Len getting covered in paint! A pink worm in an engine! Dreams about monkeys on ships and being chased by scary black men with red lips and swords! A burglar stealing shoes! As one fan said, "some of the dreams in this one suggest EBD had been at the magic mushrooms."
  • The Woobie: Try reading Gay from China and not wanting to give poor Jacynth Hardy a hug by the end of it. Especially when she finds out about her auntie going in for a serious operation, and then dying. She gets better, with help from Joey, Miss Wilson and Gay.
    • Gillian Linton. In The Chalet School and the Lintons, while her Annoying Younger Sibling Joyce is too self-absorbed to realise just how ill their mother is, Gillian is very much aware of the seriousness of her mother's illness and has both the stress of looking after her mother and keeping an eye on Joyce to deal with. And she's only fifteen. Thankfully, Joey intervenes when Gillian confides in her and gives Joyce a pep talk, as well as reassuring Mrs Linton at the end that Joyce has not been expelled, when Mrs Linton wrongly thinks that Joyce has been expelled and has a breakdown.
    • From the same book, Miss Norman, who takes Joyce, Thekla von Stift and several younger girls for extra language coaching. While she's good at teaching little kids, she has trouble keeping older ones in line, and Joyce is very aware of this and takes advantage of it. Joey walks in on the girls singing the national anthem, with Miss Norman failing to make them shut up, and feels frustrated as she wants to intervene, but can't as it'll make Miss Norman look bad in front of the girls. Miss Norman finally has enough when Joyce and the other girls - besides Thekla, who thinks it's beneath her - act like 'savages' in class, making weird noises and squatting on the floor, and sics Mlle Lepattre on them. What makes it even worse is that Miss Norman has to take on extra work as she needs the money to put her younger brother through school.
    • Margot Russell / Venables, so very much. Her family disowned her for running off with Stephen Venables, who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic and a total waste of space. Three of her five children died young while the family were living in Australia, and Stephen also died of a snake bite. She and her two surviving children, Primula - who had health problems - and Daisy, left Brisbane to go and live with Daisy's old nurse, Nellie Rickards, who took care of them and let them live with her. Nellie later died of pneumonia, and it was only thanks to plans she had made before her death - and a very kind solicitor - that Margot was able to sell the house. On Nellie's instructions, she took her daughters to find Jem, as she had learned through the papers that he was married and living in the Tyrol. When Joey and Frieda meet her and the girls in New House, she's exhausted and about ready to give up, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Her health never really recovers, and she dies a few books later.
    • Phoebe Wychcote in Jo to the Rescue, a lonely Ill Girl with severe chronic pain, whose only contact is with her Old Retainer Debby and Reg Entwistle, a local boy. She makes a little money by sewing, but is sometimes unable to finish orders because of her illness. Her father, a famous cellist, died and left her his cello, which is coveted by Spoiled Brat Zephyr Burthill and her overindulgent dad. Phoebe doesn't want to part with it as it's all she has left of him, and asks Joey for help in desperation after the Burthills harass her.


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