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Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?
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Author:  julieanne1811 [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

It's a temptation sometimes to think that authors write into their books a kind of wish-fulfillment. Do you think that ELinor did that? I ask because in my writing, my personal wishes don't come into the writing. As Joey found out, characters take on their own lives and it becomes very hard to make them 'behave' at times. This makes it difficult to really write into their lives what you wish for your own life.

I have read a few posts that suggest that Elinor (for example) wrote her major characters as married because that was what she wished for herself. Do you think that is so?

Author:  Jennie [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Yes, I think that she did. What she wrote was, to my mind, her personal educational utopia, and the problems that we find, and nitpick over, such as time-tabling for days in three languages, she just ignored. Realities were not for her, just an idealised school. But then, her target audience was the schoolgirl population, not us.

I don't think she would ever have envisaged that a group of women, and men, most of us well-educated and mature (as if - well, we're GO addicts) would ever have spent so much time analysing thebooks and looking for inconsistencies.

The CS was what she wanted, not what she got, and perhaps she realised that the only way she was ever going to have it was in the fictional world.

Author:  Fiona Mc [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I think in some ways it's a lot harder to write from personal experience and so most don't. EBD'd father walked out which she writes about in very generalised terms of girls having their fathers leave but with the exception of Juliet we never see how the girls feel about it except that they're very understanding about it. EBD's brother dies and we also don't usually see what the grief is like with that except for someone who is older such as Jacynth with her auntie. Most deaths usually happen off stage and anyone who comes close usually survives. I think the closest we see EBD writing about it is in Head Girl's Difficulties when Rosamund is upset about a kid dying and her uncle doctor basically tellls her to get over it and stop howling and her mother tells the doctor he's being a brute. And the doctor says Rosamund is too emotional for her own good. I wonder if anyone said anything about that to her in regards to her brother.

I do think she idealised marriage (EBD actually said she wished she could have married) but she also is very realistic in some senses and writes about a very good friendship between husband and wife. I wonder how much living with Phyllis and her husband for so many years influenced that and if she didn't want to upset her friend by writing about any arguments she may have witnessed or overheard. I think also she wanted someone to look after her as she had looked after others and herself for so long and imagined a husband to do that very thing. I wonder how much Grizel's situation was hers and she wished someone would come along like Jack and force her to rest and then have a husband who would always take care of her both emotionally and financially, and that she would finally have her own home.

I do think little things like that come through without EBD ever really being concious of it, because she is very big on writing about family's both biological and adopted.

Author:  Alison H [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I certainly think that that's what she did, and I can empathise with that: my drabble characters always end up living happily ever after with lovely SLOCs and children and their ideal jobs, i.e. leading the life I'd like but am never going to have.

I do think that things got rather unrealistic in the later books because of it - Joey was the woman with everything, whereas EBD seems to've been saddened by the fact that she herself never married; Hilda was the headmistress who could do no wrong whereas EBD doesn't seem to've done a very good job of running her own school; and the CS was a place where pretty much everyone got on well and behaved in a courteous and honourable way whereas sadly the real world isn't like that. Maybe Mary-Lou was even the super-organised and capable person that EBd wished she could be herself: it sounds as if she was rather disorganised :lol: .

It's quite sad to think about it like that ... :cry: .

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Goodness, I was going to say that I hope my wishes for life never mirrors what happens to my characters, because I'm always horrendous to them, but then I always seem to give them happy endings with lots of loving SLOCs. Hmm.

Having known nothing about EBD before I joined the board, I've started to see more how things in the books could have been wish fulfilment; though having also now started a Lit degree, I do have to say that analysing them in this way makes us all very Freudian!

And here I'll be tempted to branch off into theory, so I'll be quiet.

Author:  Pado [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

On the other hand, some of her best characters (Bill comes to mind) seem to live full and happy lives without being married off.

Always assuming, of course, that EBD wanted to get married? I"m afraid I don't know enough about her life to argue that convincingly.

Author:  sealpuppy [ Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I've just reread the two Wynyards books after some years and wonder if EBD would have liked the life she depicts there. Mrs Arnold is a young widow (37) with a delightful daughter who goes off to Oxford (only 23 miles away) and although money is tightish, it's all rather lovely. Good relationship between mother and daughter, and later with niece/cousin.

The husband, loved and lamented but tidily out of the way, the ideal daughter, the lovely Cotswold setting. All it needs is for Mrs Arnold to start writing gentle novels that are a huge hit - kind of D E Stevenson, perhaps and EBD would have had it all!

(I do wish she'd written more about these people, even at the expense of the later CS books. It's such a nice place to visit!)

Author:  MJKB [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

sealpuppy wrote:
(I do wish she'd written more about these people, even at the expense of the later CS books. It's such a nice place to visit!)

I do so agree with you. The Wynard books are definitely my favourites. I love the way we're given a tour of the house, which seems absolutely gorgeous. It's fairly easily managed too, although, if I were Mrs Arnold I'd have had a more reliable help than Mrs. whoever -she -was.
Getting back on subject, I definitely think that EBD lived out her idea of the perfect life through characters such as Joey and Madge. It wasn't easy being a 'single lady with elderly mother', back then. It must have been really lonely emotionally for her.

Author:  Loryat [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I think EBD definitely wanted a masterful doctor to sweep her off her feet. To us it seems strange but for EBD as an independent woman in a period when independent women were quite often pitied/despised, I think Jack and Jem sedating their wives and handling all the business side of things was what she dreamed of. And we do see lovely moments in both marriages, with the husband and wife partnership clearly also a real friendship. I think she really longed for that. Considering how large all ideal families were, I think she'd also have really loved a child or children. Perhaps all the wards who are landed on Joey and Madge are a species of wish fulfilment.

It is very sad that she was denied it (like so many GO authors who also write about warm, loving, usually large families) but at least she was able to comfort herself with the fact that she was highly successful in her field. More successful even than Joey! :D

Author:  MJKB [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Elinor's life was one of sacrifice, having to take care of a elderly mother with very little, if any at all, emotional support. It would have been taken for granted in her day that one simply had a duty to do so. As Loryat says, such people were often despised or pitied. Someone else has pointed out that there was a huge shortage of men in EBD's generation because of WW1. But it seems likely that Elinor never experienced any romance in her life, but would love to have done so.

Author:  emma t [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Yes I think she lived through the Chalet books ;) I know I do when I sit down and read a book I can imagine myself being in the plot or when I write come to that - it's a lovely feeling of being able to escape into your 'own world' so to speak ;) I am sure it's the same for many authors when writing - it's good to get a feel of the characters and the plots, etc. Maybe I am going over the top with this, but it's an interesting thought!

From what I have read about EBD's life she did have it quite tough; so I do not blame her if she did escape into her own blissful world where the best women married doctors and had long families :)

Author:  Mel [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Was her life that tough apart from not getting married? She was comfortably off, got various qualifications, taught in a range of establishment, visited Austria when that would have been enviable, had many friends, started her own school and was a successful author.
That doesn't sound too bad!

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

MJKB wrote:
Elinor's life was one of sacrifice, having to take care of a elderly mother with very little, if any at all, emotional support. It would have been taken for granted in her day that one simply had a duty to do so.


It's quite interesting how she sometimes seems to want to tackle this subject with CS girls but then can't quite go through with it. There's a lot of talk about how Mary-Lou will feel obliged to give up her career plans to look after Doris, but then Doris dies. Peggy says that she'll leave school to look after Mollie when Mollie is ill, but then Mollie's sister offers in the nick of time to step in instead. Elfie Woodward actually does leave school to look after her father and stepbrothers, but a few weeks later a long-lost cousin turns up to "keep house" for them and Elfie is able to go back to school. Mary Burnett leaves school early (so that Jo can be Head Girl!) because her mum is ill, but it only seems to be a short-term thing because Mary ends up back at the school as a teacher and then duly bags herself a doctor to marry.

Amy Dunne is pulled out of school early (so that Vi can be a prefect) because her sister is getting married and their mum insists that she needs one of them at home, and Blossom Willoughby says that she won't be going on to further education because she's "needed at home" to help with her "delicate" brother, but we never really hear anything about either of them after they've left.

I suppose that the two best examples of expected and fulfilled self-sacrifice are Madge herself, although looking after Joey doesn't really seem to cause her any problems, and Jacynth's auntie, but both of them were looking after young relatives who'd been orphaned, which perhaps isn't quite the same thing as Elinor looking after her mother.

Author:  MJKB [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Alison H wrote:
It's quite interesting how she sometimes seems to want to tackle this subject with CS girls but then can't quite go through with it. There's a lot of talk about how Mary-Lou will feel obliged to give up her career plans to look after Doris, but then Doris dies. Peggy says that she'll leave school to look after Mollie when Mollie is ill, but then Mollie's sister offers in the nick of time to step in instead. Elfie Woodward actually does leave school to look after her father and stepbrothers, but a few weeks later a long-lost cousin turns up to "keep house" for them and Elfie is able to go back to school. Mary Burnett leaves school early (so that Jo can be Head Girl!) because her mum is ill, but it only seems to be a short-term thing because Mary ends up back at the school as a teacher and then duly bags herself a doctor to marry.

Very neatly put. The CS bows to the idea of duty and obligation towards a family member in need, but conveniently gets rid of her/him so as to allow the dutee to get on with her own life. I feel a connection with EBD in that I was the only single member (the youngest!)of my family left when my father died in the middle eighties. I was 28. There was general expectation among relatives and older family friends that I would remain with my widowed mother in the family home. It's not a comfortable position to be in - aging daughter of widowed mother, unless one chooses it as a genuine labour of love. I loved my mother dearly, and after I married eight later, I visited her almost every day, and she spent every other weekend with me. It was a privillage to have this time with my mother, whom I loved dearly, but I did resent those people who so glibly wrote me off as a life long carer.

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

MJKB wrote:
It's not a comfortable position to be in - aging daughter of widowed mother, unless one chooses it as a genuine labour of love.


It still happens now ... I have two sisters - one is on her second marriage and has a large family and the other is married with no children. I am single and have been appointed (although it hasn't actually been verbalised) as companion for my mother. All my life she has said things like: 'I have already accepted that when I'm old I will be alone' - not even realising that the person to whom she says these things (me) will be the truly 'alone' one, since I have no family of my own.
SHe will defend the right of my sisters to have their own lives - they need it because they have their family/husband to think of.
I was engaged once, and I will always remember my mother's response - we were in the car. I was driving. I told her that Rolf and I had decided to get married. What did she say? Nothing. Silence.
She has never said 'congratulations', or anything. The fact that we decided not to marry some time later was nothing to do with any familial obligations I might have, but the pain of her silence can still haunt me - if I let it. And I am not going to let it.
I will do my duty and I will do it to the best of my ability. Feeling sorry for myself only hurts me and damages mny relationship with God, so I refuse to get on that track!
I do love her, but she's on;y in her early 70s. Both her parents lived well into their 90s, and despite her often-expressed belief that she is old (something I never heard from my Gran, her mother, whom I loved dearly), I could have more than 20 years of my present existance ...
But then ... 'my times are in His hands'. God knows and I know that He has plans for my life too. To do the job He's given me to do is the best thing I can do at this moment in time (as it always is!).

Oh - and by the way, I am not sure that I would necessarily either inflict on a character either my life, or (possibly? Watch this space ...) the life I wished I had. Not sure. I'll have to think about it.

Now you've got me talking again and I really must get on - I have to go to work!

Author:  Loryat [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

That's an awful situation, julianne. :(

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

You know, it's only awful if I let it be awful. I've been thinking about it more today and I think that MJKB has done me a favour (thank you MJKB) by saying something that has made me think about it all.
I think that all I have to do is do the job that God given me at this moment in time, today. He is not asking me to think of many years of servitude in this way - just today, and His grace is sufficient for today..
As I said, I do love her, and that she can be a challenge at times is OK - just for today.

So I've thought more about living through one's writing too. I think that I might well find it easy to put my own experiences into my characters' lives. I'm less sure about giving them my kind of dream life. Somehow that doesn't fit - for me. So when it comes to Elinor doing that (and of course, we'll never really know) I am not convinced, entirely. To suggest that this is what she did means that we must also believe that in some way she both used her writing to create some sort of better reality for herself, and that she also lived in some kind of make-believe world as she wrote. It's just that my experience is very far from that. When I write I don't live the lives I am creating, and the real world remains that - very real at the time. Creating some kind of different reality is a deception, since it will never be real ...

Am getting a little philosphical now - what does everyone else think? Do authors really create their 'ideal' worlds? Is there any evidence of this in what authors themselves have said?

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I don't know that authors in general do - although most books go for happy endings, and IIRC someone (Madge?) says very early on to Joey that it's best to stick to happy endings. I do get the impression that EBD tried to create a perfect world, though, and that she does this more and more as the series goes on. Early on, we see Grizel being forced to follow a career she doesn't want, Juliet being (temporarily) dumped by a boyfriend, Madge dropping a clanger by employing a matron who turns out to be a bad choice, and the rather sad life of Margot Venables. By the later Swiss books, things like that don't happen. People do face tragedies in their life, but the CS is always able to help them come to terms with these.

In one of EJO's books, a girl has to give up her career plans to look after her grandmother, and in DFB's Dimsie books Dimsie has to give up her plans to go to university because her father dies and the family are then unable to afford the fees. Things like that don't happen to CS girls. & no-one ever seems at all discontented with their lives: we never see Madge regretting that she's ended up being cut off from the school she worked so hard to set up, Joey wishing that she'd gone to university before settling down with Jack, any of the mistresses admitting that they only went into teaching because they didn't have many other options or any of the single women wishing they were married. Nor do we see anyone failing an exam, being turned down by their first choice university or finding out that being the best pianist/cellist at your school doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be able to make a successful career of it.

It's a lovely world :D - everyone's happy, and no-one moans, and I'd love to live somewhere like that :D , but even compared to the worlds of other GO books it's not very realistic. & I think the fact that it becomes more of a perfect world as time goes on is telling.

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Yes, you have a good point there. Sad things do happen (Auntie dies young leaving Jacynth alone), but that's not the end of the story. Even Grizel has her own happy ending finally. In that respect it is a perfect world. It's as if she wanted to be sure to tie up loose ends and leave no-one in a desperate state. ALthough we don't know what happened to Thekla and Betty, the fact (! it's make-believe!!) that they both wrote to say 'sorry' years later shows that their lives had turned round from the problems they had had in their youths.
I wonder what she thought then of (books not to hand) the girl who became a nun and died in a concentration camp? Perhaps that she had achieved the greatest happiness after the horror, by going to Heaven? So even then L (it's coming slowly) had her own happy ending. Same goes for Herr Marani I suppose.
I wonder if, as Elinor aged, she yearned more for what she had never had and so wrote those things into her life?

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Luigia di Ferrara?

Personally, I always live the worlds that I create for my writing. One, in particular, which is set in the future and so which I've had to create almost from scratch, I can get lost in to the extent that I forget everything, and an hour of my life at a time will just disappear. No, it's probably not my ideal world, but once you've created something I always find it very difficult not to get lost in it.

Certainly, that seems to be the case with the CS; EBD cannot allow criticism of it, because she would be indirectly criticising herself for not creating it perfect, never an easy thing to do!

Author:  MJKB [ Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

julieanne1811 wrote:
You know, it's only awful if I let it be awful. I've been thinking about it more today and I think that MJKB has done me a favour (thank you MJKB) by saying something that has made me think about it all.

Thank you Julieanne, and I'm really glad if what I said was of any help to you. Since my father's death, and the hurt I experienced at that time from the ill judged remarks of some people, I've always held very strong views about placing the responsibility for the care of elderly parents firmly on the shoulders of single family members. I believe I found it easier to cope with my mother's incipient dementia early on in my marriage, even with a small child to look after, than had I been on my own. Your faith is amazing, but, though it waxes and wanes, my faith is extremely important to me too, and has brought me through many very difficult periods in my life.

I think there is ample evidence that some authors do create their ideal worlds. I've never had the talent to write, but I do create dream characters in my head, and they tend to live angst free lives. I wish I could put them down on paper, but I know if I do, they'll be just that, paper people.

Author:  Llywela [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Alison H wrote:
By the later Swiss books, things like that don't happen. People do face tragedies in their life, but the CS is always able to help them come to terms with these.

It's a lovely world :D - everyone's happy, and no-one moans, and I'd love to live somewhere like that :D , but even compared to the worlds of other GO books it's not very realistic. & I think the fact that it becomes more of a perfect world as time goes on is telling.

They tend to get more miracles as time goes by, as well - Naomi Elton springs to mind here. When she arrives at the school we are told not only that she has been disabled for years, but that she has already seen the very best doctors, specialists in the field, who have all agreed that there is nothing they can do for her. But then, of course, she has an accident, is rushed to the San - a TB sanitarium, for crying out loud, not even a regular hospital - and hey presto, all of a sudden it turns out that all those specialists were wrong and she can be healed after all. Miracle! And to make matters worse, we have already been told that she would be willing to believe in God if such a miracle ever happened. It would have been so much braver for EBD to not provide that miracle, to show that sometimes people with disabilities just have to come to terms with that disability and live with it for the rest of their life, and can still manage to find faith regardless. In real life miracles don't always happened.

Mind, she did something similar with Phoebe earlier, didn't she - provided a miracle cure via the San once more. Why would a doctor who specialised in rheumatic illness be working at a TB hospital anyway?

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Llywela wrote:
But then, of course, she has an accident, is rushed to the San - a TB sanitarium, for crying out loud, not even a regular hospital - and hey presto, all of a sudden it turns out that all those specialists were wrong and she can be healed after all. Miracle!
Mind, she did something similar with Phoebe earlier, didn't she - provided a miracle cure via the San once more. Why would a doctor who specialised in rheumatic illness be working at a TB hospital anyway?


Iknow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The skill of these TB doctors is all-encompassing. Perhaps their training to treat TB included every other illness under the sun too? Some very special kind of training, I think!!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Author:  Cosimo's Jackal [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I'd agree that the CS world, taken as a whole, is EBD's ideal. I think you can easily see it as a rather lonely, overstretched woman's dream world - a world where the CS is always there to pick you up, even if you haven't got a SLOC and a million children, where there's genuine sisterhood in the largest sense, where a famous author is able to combine a successful career with marriage to a man with a prestigious job, a large family and a very sociable life, where headmistresses are all-powerful and beloved, where nearly everything turns out all right for 'good people' nearly all the time, where scenery of wonderful, rooms are gay and chintzy and all meals are delicious!

It's not hard to see the fact that she gives her beloved Joey a captive audience, not just of her daughters who never tire of hearing her old stories, but also of a school of several hundred girls, staff, Old Girls and Old Staff etc as the fantasy of someone lonely who never felt she got enough attention. Or of someone who felt shut out of family situations because she didn't have one of her own. I do think Joey and other 'leader' characters like Mary-Lou are the creations of a somewhat attention-starved author.

I'm writing a novel at the moment, and while my main character is very much not me, I'm certainly putting her in environments that I've been in, and am using her as a way to explore roads not taken etc etc.

Author:  Alison H [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

In the only full length novel I've ever written (you do not want to know how bad it is :lol: ), one of the main male characters is rather obviously based on someone on whom I had a major crush on at school :oops: . Rhett Butler's supposed to've been based on someone Margaret Mitchell knew.

Just wondering if Jem and Jack were based on anyone EBD knew ... :lol: .

Author:  Loryat [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

When you think about it, a lot of EBD's heroines start out as people with very little family - Madge and Joey have only each other and Dick; Nell and Hilda's families are both practially wiped out; Mary-Lou starts with mother and grandmother, gains a stepfather and loses them all; Grizel has only distant father, evil stepmother, and soon-to-be-dead granny; Kathie Ferrars is an orphan; Juliet is abandoned; the Robin is a half-orphan then orphaned completely...

I could go on, I didn't realise quite how many examples I had till I started writing :D .

Anyway, the point I was going to make is that when these characters don't get a family for themselves through marrying/being adopted (Madge, Joey, Grizel, all do, Robin finds family in the Russells and Maynards, before joining the Ultimate family) they all find family, sisterhood and belonging in the CS. Hilda and Nell, though they never have children of their own, gain more than enough brevet nieces and nephews through the CS. EBD must have longed for this to happen to her and it probably never did. :(

Author:  sealpuppy [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I live with my characters all the time when I'm writing, and I suspect most first novels have the writer thinly disguised in there. My first published novel was actually the seventh I'd written so I'm not really in there directly, though people who know me can hear my voice throughout. My subsequent published books have bits of me and bits of other people, all jumbled up and patchworked together, though the most recent has a character described as 'deliciously creepy' who is based a bit on someone I met. Not that I'd ever admit who he is, if interrogated!

I'm quite sure Madge began as an idealised self-portrait although she faded into the background as Joey grew up. My Victorian protagonist isn't much like me as I am, but as I'd like to think I would have been, given the difficulties I've burdened her with!

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Loryat wrote:
Anyway, the point I was going to make is that when these characters don't get a family for themselves through marrying/being adopted (Madge, Joey, Grizel, all do, Robin finds family in the Russells and Maynards, before joining the Ultimate family) they all find family, sisterhood and belonging in the CS. Hilda and Nell, though they never have children of their own, gain more than enough brevet nieces and nephews through the CS. EBD must have longed for this to happen to her and it probably never did. :(


I think it's all rather lovely ... I hadn't realised this either and it's quite compeling when you think of it, isn't it?

Author:  MJKB [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

sealpuppy wrote:
I'm quite sure Madge began as an idealised self-portrait although she faded into the background as Joey grew up. My Victorian protagonist isn't much like me as I am, but as I'd like to think I would have been, given the difficulties I've burdened her with!


LM Alcott's Little Women is semi autobiographical, but all the sisters, except Beth, end up better off than Louisa and her sisters. They all marry, and Amy, unlike the character she was based on, lives a gracious and wealthy life. EBD has always reminded me of LM.

Author:  Kathy_S [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Quote:
Why would a doctor who specialised in rheumatic illness be working at a TB hospital anyway?

The dire consequences of TB infections of the bone mean that a serious TB facility would indeed have specialists with expertise in surgery for back, hip and related problems. "Hunched backs," for example, are a classic symptom of TB-induced osteomyelitis.

Author:  Llywela [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Kathy_S wrote:
Quote:
Why would a doctor who specialised in rheumatic illness be working at a TB hospital anyway?

The dire consequences of TB infections of the bone mean that a serious TB facility would indeed have specialists with expertise in surgery for back, hip and related problems. "Hunched backs," for example, are a classic symptom of TB-induced osteomyelitis.

Ah, cool. That's really interesting. :)

I don't know enough, clearly.

Author:  MJKB [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

Llywela wrote:
They tend to get more miracles as time goes by, as well - Naomi Elton springs to mind here. When she arrives at the school we are told not only that she has been disabled for years, but that she has already seen the very best doctors, specialists in the field, who have all agreed that there is nothing they can do for her. But then, of course, she has an accident, is rushed to the San - a TB sanitarium, for crying out loud, not even a regular hospital - and hey presto, all of a sudden it turns out that all those specialists were wrong and she can be healed after all. Miracle! And to make matters worse, we have already been told that she would be willing to believe in God if such a miracle ever happened. It would have been so much braver for EBD to not provide that miracle, to show that sometimes people with disabilities just have to come to terms with that disability and live with it for the rest of their life, and can still manage to find faith regardless. In real life miracles don't always happened.


Naomi's 'miraculous' recovery sounds a discordant note in the book. The whole idea of miracles is that when one prays for one, one is meant to leave oneself open to the will of God. The miracle of Lourdes, for instance. is much more about receiving peace and reconciliation than cures. Naomi saying that she is prepared to believe in God if He were to cure her is close to bargaining with the Creator, unless she is prepared to become reconciled with her disability.

Author:  Loryat [ Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

I remember people from the Lourdes minibus coming to talk to us about it. They told us all about a girl (I can't remember if she was a young woman, teenager or actually a child) who loved going to Lourdes. We were all expecting them to tell us that she got better - but she died! :shock:

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

This comment is OT, but takes a swerve to the side - bear with me.
I am reading some Josephine Elder books at the moment. The two are: Barbara at School and Redheads.

Now, if we take the view that authors of GOLit do, in some way, incorporate into their books some of their own wishes and/or experiences, I have to say that I would not have liked to meet this woman - ever.

Many of her characters are frank bullies, yet she always puts in the wrong the person/people they bully. The girls are absolute nightmares and she is very pro-child and anti-adult. That in itself is not wrong unless it is the child who is behaving wrongly. Elder always finds a reason for the bad behaviour and blame for that behaviour is transferred to the adult/bullied.

If characters and situations do take their origin from some experience of the author - what was this woman like at school?

Sorry if any of you like her writing - I am finding it an education, but not pleasant reading ...

Author:  Loryat [ Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

The only JE book I have read is Evelyn Finds Herself, which is quite an in-depth study of character and is apparently quite closely based on JE's real experiences.

The book charts Evelyn's last years at school and particularly the ups and downs of what has previously been an extremely stable friendship. Evelyn and her friend are very much the elite - both intelligent and good at games - and the book is quite openly not interested in those who aren't. However, we are seeing everything from Evelyn's perspective.

In the book Evelyn and her friend play a trick on a games mistress who 'curries favourites' and later scorn her advances on themselves. But though the mistress is presented as quite an unattractive person, Evelyn does feel sorry for her - unlike her friend who is pretty brutal about it. There is also an incident where a weak head girl faces a rebellion - Evelyn sticks up for her, and ends the rebellion. And Evelyn and her friend are quite critical of some mistresses, but friendly with others and Evelyn in particular forms a great friendship with a new science mistress. Basically, the book shows the girls giving respect where they decide it's due - quite a teeny proceeding I think, though maybe not run of the mill for GO!

But this book deals with older characters - maybe books dealing with younger characters are less thoughtful.

Author:  julieanne1811 [ Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Did Elinor live her 'perfect life' in the CS books?

The problem is that I think her books are 'thoughtful. She has situations happening where she writes about what is done, but then puts a lot of her adult interpretation about why it is done. It's in the rather explicit explanations that she goes into lots of detail about the why of things, and it always seems to blame the person on the receiving end while excusing the bully.

Loryat said
Quote:
Basically, the book shows the girls giving respect where they decide it's due


This sums up perfectly what seems to happen in her books - people are given respect or not based on the decision of the girls, and if they don't get it, well, that's thier fault ...

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