feather_ghyll: One girl seated by an easel with a watching girl standing behind (Girl painter)
The Jolliest Term on Record: Angela Brazil, Blackie

I’ll begin, inevitably, by listing some of the names that appear in this book: Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Photograph of L M Montgomery at the seaside (L M Montgomery)
Last week, I went away for a few days and these are some of the books that I read then:

The School on the Moor: Angela Brazil

Read more... )

Reread: A Countess Below Stairs: Eva Ibbotson

(I think I will reread all my Ibbotsons as a project.)

Read more... )

Penelope’s Prefects: Judith Carr

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I’ll post an overview of a few books I’ve read over the holidays eventually, but this post is a look back at 2015, following a tradition started by my first post of 2015 when I said I looked forward to the next adventures of Wells and Wong. Well, Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens (in which the 1930s schoolgirls investigate another mystery, this time in Daisy Wells’s country house home) lived up to my expectations. I enjoyed Kate Saunders’s Beswitched, originally published a few years ago, but taking the reader back to a 1930s boarding school, a fraction more, even. I loved reading Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery and Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage.

Turning to hadrbacks, I enjoyed The Little Betty Wilkinson by Evelyn Smith, even though I think she’s written better books. I did read a book each by the ‘big four’: Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s Chudleigh Hold, Sally’s Summer Term by Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Tomboys at the Abbey by Elsie J. Oxenham, which I didn’t review, and For the School Colours by Angela Brazil.

(In the first paragraph, I build up to my favourite and do the opposite in the second.)

Perhaps the best book I read this year was ‘Rose Under Fire’ by Elizabeth Wein, which is wonderful and harrowing, and I feel incapable of writing about it. I also really loved Helena McEwen’s Invisible River.

I reread Katherine L. Oldmeadow’s The Fortunes of Jacky, which stands the test of time, and now I have no more Oldmeadows to reread. I am, obviously, looking out for more by her in all the shops that sell second-hand books! I hope to read the next case Hazel Wong writes up and the second in the Finishing School series, but I expect to read EBD's 'Fardingales' as I have a copy in the depths of my 'to read' pile.
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
For the School Colours: Angela Brazil. Blackie & Son.

I wish I could say this was a blossomy book, borrowing the top-hole slang that its characters use, but I can’t. Well, it isn’t too bad and it doesn’t feature that dreaded chapter of made-up stories that usually dog Brazil’s books. However, I did mentally say ‘Oh, Angela’ in a ‘what are we to do with you way’ quite a lot. It is set during World War One and features a great deal of propaganda that is glaringly cartoonish and yet sincere from a century’s distance. It’s also not quite the book it seems to be in the first chapter, and perhaps I would have preferred it if it was – I’ll explain.

Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Close-up of white flower aganst dark background (Black and white flower)
Collected over months (or longer):

A tribute to Elinor M. Brent-Dyer by nobodyjones

The thrill of the used bookstore hunt

Amanda Diehl talks about book hunting practices involving second-hand bookshops that I can partially sympathise with. I do have strange habits about books, but let’s focus on the euphoria of finding something you’ve long looked for at a reasonable price.

Daniel Dalton recommends 33 Books You Should Read Now, Based On Your Favourite Films. Having read and seen some pairs, I can see where he’s coming from and have found a cuple of recommondations.

There are a few Nancy Drew icons here by misbegotten.

Angela Brazil: dorm feasts and red hot pashes

Kathryn Hughes has been rereading Angela Brazil (spoilers for A Patriotic Schoolgirl).

Here’s a new blog about children’s books that I think will be worth keeping an eye on: homeintimefortea
feather_ghyll: One girl seated by an easel with a watching girl standing behind (Girl painter)
The Head Girl at the Gables: Angela Brazil Blackie (the inscription on my copy suggests that this was published in 1931 or earlier)

The story begins with the headmistress of the Gables and her lieutenant considering who to appoint to the titular post of head girl of the school. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: drawing of a girl from the 1920s reading a book in a bed/on a couch (Twenties girl reader)
The School at the Turrets: Angela Brazil
Blackie (Reprint from the 1954 or earlier)

This is familiar territory and would be even if this wasn’t a reread – this hardback copy was an upgrade from an Armada paperback for me. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
A Popular Schoolgirl: Angela Brazil

I had an ‘oh, Angela’ moment when Read more... )

Sara Gay Model Girl in New York: Janey Scott

That's New York, 1961 - fit for girls. Read more... )

Dance with me by Victoria Clayton

Recommended. Read more... )

I look forward to reading more by Clayton (I think another book of hers may have been recommended by [personal profile] callmemadam.)

Finally I reread Three go to Switzerland: Mabel Esther Allan

It can’t have made much impact on me before, because I didn’t remember anything as I read it. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: drawing of a girl from the 1920s reading a book in a bed/on a couch (Twenties girl reader)
Although Scotland is in the British news big time, this isn't a timely post! I reread this book over the Christmas holidays and had hoped to post this review sooner.

The School on the Loch: Angela Brazil. Blackie (from the inscription, published in 1961 or earlier)

'First days at a new school are always a toss-up. You’ll setle down among them before long. Cheer up!' (p43) )
feather_ghyll: Tennis ball caught up at mid net's length with text reading 15 - love (Anyone for tennis?)
Ah, so Nadal has pulled out. I'm sure it was both a difficult decision and not, putting yourself through seven potential five-setters when you're suffering from tendnitis, and, as a world No. 1 and champion, facing the likelihood of being out before that because you're not capable of playing your game.

Another weight on Murray's shoulders then/chance for him, and Wimbledon is different from the French. Federer and Del Potro must be feeling chirpier - although I would have thought that everyone would prefer to be a champion having beat Nadal. There's also Djokovic, but there doesn't seem to be that buzz around him. And I don't know who Haas is up to play in the first round.

Watched a fluff piece with Elena Dementieva on Breakfast. Maybe I'm too sensitive but would the chappie presenter be talking about the male world no. 4 at anything being a pin-up?

I'm reading Cassell's The British Girl's Annual from 1919, which has already featured an Angela Brazil story. It's a dipping into and dipping out of book. The stories are set up in columns, which I first thought was greaat, but it seems to make the story come to an end earlier.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
On Saturday, having watched the women's French Open final, I wrote up my thoughts about said Championship. I even saved it, on a thingummy that I left at relatives'. Well done, self. Those reactions have now assumed the stature of all my distilled wisdom about tennis, when they were nothing of the kind. I've caught very little of Queen's, it must be said.

Jill's Jolliest School: Angela Brazil

It didn't occur to me at the time, although there was a definite sense of familiarity, as you get with Brazil's copious output, but there's some similarity in set up with The New School at Scawdale Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I've referred to Lucy Mangan's series of features on how to build up 'a brilliant children's library' before. Here in No. 15, she reaches Dimsie goes to School and Angela Brazils. Apparently the only difference between Fairlie Bruce and Angela Brazil is that one wrote her books a little earlier, which is unfair. Though I do appreciate that this is a short piece and she's talking about Dimsie as a representative of a genre.

But no, I cn't help but be pedantic, Fairlie Bruce wrote about Scotland as well as England, and Jean is a rubbish example of stoicism. I type as one who has four Dimsies waiting to be read upstairs. There's also a reference to 'You're A Brick, Angela' in the article, which apparatently was 'the first substantial book of criticism-cum-championing of girls' school stories'. This leads to the inevitable thought that if that's championing, who needs undermining. (I discuss that book and line of thought here.

Mangan's argument for these books is mainly nostalgic, though she makes an interesting point about how these books are no longer being passed on. Is this true? The Chalet School, Mallory Towers, St Clare's and Trebizons were easily available in paperback as I grew up, and I found others from my mother and her friends', a haphazard collection, and became a haunter of charity shops and Christmas fairs, but I was a real bookworm. But what about young girls these days? Do they get their hands on copies to beguile, entertain and confuse them?
feather_ghyll: Tennis ball caught up at mid net's length with text reading 15 - love (Anyone for tennis?)
US Open Well done, Andy Murray. Rising to No. 4 in the world is certainly what he deserves, and I'm relishing his semi with Nadal. Hopefully Eurosport or the Beeb or someone will show it. I'll be home this weekend and the bad weather won't be bothering me, because I will be watching the tail end of these championships. The women's semis are also pretty choice this time too, with the number 1 spot in the balance, three ladies chasing their first grand slam, and I had a feeling Serena would win big sis here, as it isn't Wimbledon.

I've just started reading Angela Brazil's The Madcap of the School and quickly want to share some of the character names: Raymonde, Avelne, Morvyth, Valentine, Ardiune and Fauvette! There's a Hermione too, (aka Hermie!) which would have made the list pre-Harry Potter. Katherine, Cynthia and Maude are something of a relief. Bless her, eh?
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I have been feeling a bit abashed recently. I only think of myself as a book collector on sporadic occasions, such as when I see the fruits of my collecting in piles, or on shelves, or in piles by shelves. It would be more correct to call me a reader, I collect books for the stories they contain. I was made more aware of this in London the other day when I tramped into really, really posh book shops with books I didn't dare even touch on their shelves, the first edition dust jackets protected by reverent plastic. I have no idea what the asking prices were, but I knew I couldn't afford them, as I have plans to travel, eat and drink over the summer. And I remain haunted by a couple of prices from my Hay trip last year.

But I suppose now is the time to make the admission that I write my name inside books. I'm also more likely to eat when reading a hardback than a paperback, because it's easier, which means that a book from 1913 is more likely to get stained or dirtied than a paperback that isn't even in double digits. I've moved on from the phase I had where I had to underline the name of every proper Chalet School girl who appeared in the series (don't have a heart attack, we are talking about the Armada paperbacks, which I suppose I should replace for the proper versions someday).

I like reading the names, dates and occasional messages when the book was a gift on the flyleaf. I love the random bookmarks you can find in books too. They all give me the sense of the history of 'my book', and a feeling that the book was loved before being handed on to me. That sort of attitude probably wouldn't do at those shops.

And then, last weekend I read 'You're A Brick, Angela', because it was about time. It's a very informative book, and one has to remember that it was an overview of a much neglected field. so it covers a lot of ground. But I did feel rather contrary regarding some of its assumptions, and wished the authors had gone into further depth into the power of series and a strong contingent of readers wanting more of the same, although I suppose it's unfair to expect everyone to share that particular preoccupation, but I do think it would have been fruitful to raise that aspect when comparing with writers of several non-serial books and books that didn't get a sequel and their popularity and influence.

Anyway, why did this book make me feel abashed? Because apparently I'm no critical reader. (In fairness, I kept reminding myself that I'd been introduced to Blyton very young and Pamela Brown, Lorna Hill and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer when I was at the latter end of primary school. So there. I was also critical reader enough to prefer the Famous Five to the Secret Seven.) And now, as an adult, when I should know better? I like the escapism of light reading and the certainties of genre, the nostalgia for my childhood and the one that never existed in these books.

Having said that, I found I did have a critical reader, actually when I read Angela Brazil's The New School at Scawdale Read more... )

Whether I am a critical reader or not, it's true to say that last weekend I went away with three books, which I read, and returned with another shopping-bags full.
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
In the ideal world of my intentions, there would be full reviews of all these books, but I have to admit that, under current circumstances, there is no way that I can do them justice, so it's better to clear the desks with some quick overviews.

The Third Class at Miss Kaye's: Angela Brazil: I didn't realise when I read it quite how early a book this was, although I picked up on the references to (the lack of) plumbing and transport. In fact, it's only something like the second of Brazil's school stories, and comes off like The Fortunes of Phillippa meets For the Sake of the School. One of the more notable things about the story of how dreamy only child, Sylvia, becomes a normalised schoolgirl, is the role that the headmistress, Miss Kaye, plays. Brazil could have titled this The Third Class at Heathercliffe House, but the reference to Miss Kaye is crucial. She's in the wise Hilda Annersly mould and even more obviously influential - and a contrast to A Worth-while Term, which has a novice headteacher, somewhat in the mould of Madge Bettany, although author Judy Irwin come off the worst in any comparison with Brent-Dyer. For one thing, the book seems to be set in an alternate universe where the question mark was never invented.

Cicely, who is in her early twenties, inherits a school from a woman she befriended on a cruise during the outbreak of the second world war. As you do. Said friend didn't disclose that she was very sick to Cicely, who finds herself in charge of a small, select and slack school after said friend dies. Can she turn it around?

More entertaining, and surprising to me, was Mollie Chappell's Endearing Young Charms, which is a romance, though not that far removed from her books for older girls. I only knew Chappell as a children's writer - she comes off as somewhere between Oxenham and Streatfeild in tone, and this book certainly has charm. I'll be looking out for more of her romances.

Also amusing was Jane Shaw's Fourpenny Fair. Penny's a heroine by accident, her kind heart not being married with much sense, and her accidents are usually pretty funny. Even funnier was A Bullet in the ballet by Simon and Brahms, hence the icon. Definitely not a children's book, it's a comic murder mystery, with Inspector Quill of Scotland Yard trying to solve a murder, which of course becomes a series of murders, with the hinderance of the Stroganov Ballet Company, who live ballet, breathe ballet and try to be helpful to the nice police inspector who has never seen even the most well-known ballets and is trying to find the assassin of the ballet dancers who can breathe no more. By the end, I was literally roaring with laughter, you know, loud, hearty laughter. This is the first in a series and I'll be looking out for the rest.

Ethel Talbot's Ranger Rose was fortunately not terrible (which Talbot can be), but slight in some ways, although it's theme and Rose's journey were trying to tackle big issues. Weird ending though, and disappointing handling of the big final scene.

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is out in the cinemas this week. I won't be going to see it, despite having read the first two books, which I didn't find that funny. Coming soon is Emma 'Nancy Drew' Roberts in Wild Child, where a Malibu brat is sent to an English boarding school, where her dead father used to play quidditch her dead mother used to play lacrosse. The trailer looks as though it's trying for something between the Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie TV show, the Trebizon books and the recent St Trinian revamp, which I avoided. Unless if the reviews change my mind, which I doubt, I'll be avoiding this too.


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