The third book in the series, The Princess of the Chalet School features Princess Elisaveta Margherita of Belsornia (whew, that’s a mouthful!) who’s sent to the school to speed along her recovery (every book in this series seems to feature at least one, if not more, girls with delicate health). I would have thought the story would revolve around a bratty princess used to getting her way and needing to be squashed by the girls. But Elisaveta isn’t that sort of princess; reading her beloved school stories always made her yearn to be a part of that culture too. She’s thrilled at being sent to the Chalet School and settles down quite well becoming firm friends with Joey Bettany (Joey seems to be a friend of the world).
For the first time, the school sees some staff trouble in the form of a domineering and unpleasant matron. Some of the girls band together and form the Society for the Suppression of the Matron and resort to revenge with the school girl’s favourite – tricks and pranks. The book also features lots of picnics and outdoorsy events, taking advantage of the location in which the story is set. The Exciting Happening in this book is a result of the princess’ uncle, Prince Cosimo, who is out to kidnap her in an attempt to blackmail the king. Of course Joey is involved – that girl always ends up getting caught up in such events. The story ends with a wedding (Madge Bettany, the founder of the school and Joey’s sister marries Doctor Jem Russell) and a royal ceremony (what book about a princess would be complete without one?)
I can’t help but compare these books to Malory Towers which had brilliant students in every field (an artist, a music prodigy, a mathematical genius). As much as I love Enid Blyton, I much prefer this realistic scenario here where girls are more well-rounded with nary a genius in sight. I also love the whole bohemian school and its go-as-you-like flexible attitude. Its focus on things besides studies reflects a less competitive environment. I can’t imagine anyone from my school cancelling lessons for a picnic in the woods in honour of the arrival of 3 beloved ex-students. I’m a huge fan of these books so I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
The Princess of the Chalet School
Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
Price: I got my copy secondhand but Flipkart’s
version costs INR 225. Unfortunately, it’s sold out!