English girls at a very English boarding school, learning to be citizens of Europe and the world, but the Second World War's intervening with their education, and an even deeper education in humanity and human folly is about to ensue.
I'm not sure how these books have stood the test of time so well, but they have. My Mum used to read them when she was a kid (she grew up during the war), then I started collecting them in (seriously abridged) paperbacks. Now Mum's collecting the real books again and sends me care parcels as she replaces them. I'll have a complete collection soon.
So what is it? Sweet girls, in a safer world(though surely not safe in WWII times)? A touch of old-fashioned innocence? Great scenery--I almost feel like I've seen the Austrian alps. Great plays on words--the girls have to speak French and German and some of their mis-translations are really fun? Adults that we can relate to--the teachers are characters in these stories just as much as the pupils are. A generation gap that's bridged by mutual trust (and mutual reading)?
Delving back into these books is like curling up by the fire as a child again, as much a delight now as when I was a kid, as when my Mum was a kid. And if there are weird non-sequiturs and odd continuity glitches, well, that's life.
And perhaps that's the secret; they're kids' adventures, but the books are all about life and living it wisely, entertainingly, with a touch of continental education on the side.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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The peaceful life in the Austrian Tyrol is disturbed by the threat of war. Soon it becomes clear that the school must close. When some of the girls at the Chalet School stand up against a Nazi crowd, they face terrible punishment and are forced to flee for their lives into Switzerland.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.