Friday, 3 July 2009

My secret shame

It's embarrassing - I might go so far as to say jolly embarrassing - when someone realises you like school stories and instantly launches into an account of their favourite Chalet School stories.

Because I haven't read them. Never picked up a single one as a child, even while I was devouring other school stories like they were made of Smarties full of crack cocaine. I've read a grand total of one Brent-Dyer book; Eustacia at the Chalet School, which I bought in a charity shop a couple of months ago. It's got a sulky new girl who has to be saved from a mountain flood and is completely redeemed by the experience, so it was a thumbs up from me, but why hadn't I read them before? My local library was crammed with Jo and chums' adventures. I have an uncomfortable idea that I did start one and promptly stopped reading once I twigged it wasn't set in England. Boarding school stories, as far as I was concerned, were English. Setting them in the Alps was cheating.

God knows where I got that from. It's not as if I'm even English. I'm sure I didn't have this mental block for any other genre, happily hoovering up Babysitter's Club and Point Horror and the many adventures of the Sweet Valley twins and their shiny blonde hair and perfect size 6 figures (a series banned in my school by English teachers who didn't seem to realise that this just made them far more attractive)

Still, the good thing about the popularity of the Chalet School is that the books are more easily available than, say, Dimsie Goes to School, even if I've been warned off the Armada paperbacks because of egregious edits. So there's now a good-size pile on my bedside table; my only worry is that I'm going to end up reading the whole lot in one months-long binge, as I've done with Poirot and the Doctor Who novels and other long series. If I haven't emerged by Christmas, send help.


  1. I too rejected the Chalet School books as a kid -- I tried to read one, and not only was it set in the Alps, but there was a bit where The New Girl was told off for using slang, in a scene that rather set my teeth on edge. Not even the bit where a new teacher nearly dies of appendicitis could overcome it for me, but I read a few more the other year, and they were brilliant.

  2. I'm put off even more by the manic smile and cold, dead eyes in the cover up there. I've got pictures turned off in Firefox and yet she still seems to be staring into my soul...

  3. I think the first, ooh, about twenty books in the series are pretty good, but after that they start to go downhill.