Book Review: The Head Girl of the Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

head girlThe book, the fourth in the series, features the original problem child of the school. Grizel Cochrane has the position of Head Girl bestowed upon her, a responsibility she is hesitant to undertake. Not only is she full of self-doubt about the choice of Head Girl and her own capabilities but she’s also unsure if she can put the school ahead of her own desires. The book narrates an action-packed two terms of Grizel’s Head Girl-ship. The first term sees a battle brewing between Grizel and Deira O’Hagan resulting in a few fits of (sometimes psychotic) anger.

The book also features the beginnings of a few school traditions as well as a trip to Salzburg (the Chalet School trips are one of my favourite parts of the series). The history and geography expeditions for the students as well as an instance where lessons are cancelled and the teachers organise a snow fight for the students really made me want to transport myself right into the walls of the Chalet School. Teachers at my school would have balked at this breach of everyday protocol!

Accidents and catastrophes seem to follow the students throughout the two terms featured in the books. The aforementioned snow fight gets broken up on account of a head injury, Robin gets kidnapped by a madman (he thinks she’s the queen of the fairy folk and wants to take her to her kingdom), a fire breaks out at a hotel where Grizel, Robin and Joey are staying and Cornelia Flower, a new American student, is involved in the book’s Exciting Happening which, of course, also has Joey in the thick of action again (Brent-Dyer didn’t let Joey have a moment of peace in her school days).

What I found oddly hilarious was the fact that Madge, without any foreshadowing whatsoever, goes and has a baby. At first I thought I’d missed references to the pregnancy and hurriedly went through the pages; but all I could find was a passing mention of the fact that Madge wouldn’t be able to come down to the school as often as before. I guess Brent-Dyer’s 1920s sensibilities didn’t allow for the mention of the P word but the abrupt arrival of the baby was pretty funny.

All in all, the book was a lot of fun to read, no less because it just had so many things happening in every page. Brent-Dyer’s students sure had a lot more fun in school than I ever did.

You can catch up on further Chalet School hijinks here and here.

The Head Girl of the Chalet School

Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Pages: 160

Price: I got my copy secondhand but
it seems to be unavailable elsewhere!

Publisher: Armada

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