Author:  Sunglass [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Joey-bashing

Question for those who are (occasional or full-time) Joey-bashers: Why do we do it, and clearly enjoy it? (Declaring own bias here!)
General/genuine dislike of the character? Dislike of adult Joey and the whole retrospective hagiography thing that makes schoolgirl Joey sound less interesting and flawed than she actually was in the early books? Impatience with EBD for having no perspective whatsoever on her favourite character? A feeling that Joey simply isn't compelling enough as a character to maintain the huge amount of 'work' she's called upon to do throughout the series in terms of providing narrative incident/excitement? Would you like her more if she remained in essence the same character but the series contained some non-demonised characters who weren't particularly keen on her?

Question to to those who don't: Why don't you Joey-bash?
Genuine liking of adult as well as child Joey? Loyalty to EBD's vision? Does it upset you/surprise you that such a central Spirit of the CS character is often the target of so much criticism by people who are strong CS fans? Or do you understand at some level where the Joey-bashers are coming from?

ETA And while I think of it, as I am someone who has read almost no drabbles - are there specific drabble milestones people think of in terms of Joey-bashing/parody/rehabilitation?

Author:  LauraMcC [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I don't tend to actively Joey-bash - she is not my favourite character, especially the adult Joey, but I think that I just, on some basic level, accept her as EBD portrays her, and I don't really seek to "bash" any of the characters. However, I do see where the Joey-bashers are coming from. As an adult, she is worshipped by everyone, and held up as such a paragon of all the virtues, when really, IMO, she does not do anything that brilliant. And, yes, the retrospective hagiography thing is annoying, especially if you have read the Tyrol books first, and can see that she was an ordinary flawed schoolgirl, before she became "the spirit of the school". But that does not bother me any more that the other EBDisms that exist in every book, and I would not have said that I disliked either Joey. However, it would have been refreshing for a new girl not to have fallen down at her feet! :D

Author:  Róisín [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I don't bash her as much as parody her. I think she's one of those characters that you can take off (as in, imitate) and unfailingly people will know what edge of her personality you are trying to make funny. It's just that we know *everything* about her, that she does stuff in such a repetitive/predictive way, that in a big group it's a character like this that it makes sense to make the most fun of! :lol:

Author:  Emma A [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Sunglass wrote:
ETA And while I think of it, as I am someone who has read almost no drabbles - are there specific drabble milestones people think of in terms of Joey-bashing/parody/rehabilitation?

I think Jennie's Russell universe drabbles first opened my eyes to real Joey-bashing on a scale never before encountered! I found them very entertaining, mainly because most of the drabbles were written about the Russells, of whom we don't hear much, after the school moves to Switzerland (and tackled themes that EBD would never have written about).

I certainly like Joey as a teen and young adult, and if one encounters her in an isolated book, she is quite bearable in the later ones. It's just when one reads many of the later Swiss books that the relentlessness of her involvement in the school starts to strike one as unlikely and irritating. It may be a function of EBD's writing, but I find the scenes where she is larky and "down with the kids" rather annoying as an adult, mainly because I feel she really ought to grow up a bit! Her obsession with having the largest family is odd in today's world where small families are the norm, particularly as the triplets (and perhaps the eldest boys) are the only ones drawn in any detail.

Having said all that, she is kind-hearted and generous in the later books, particularly to girls who don't have or are isolated (in whatever way) from their mothers. If EBD hadn't made the school quite so isolated in the Swiss years, or had written fewer books spanning the same time line, then Joey would not seem so annoying: it's when something happens every term which needs her advice or help, or has her behaving in a girlish way, that her involvement starts feeling like a narrative device and not an organic part of the plot.

Author:  ChubbyMonkey [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Personally I've always rather liked Joey - to the point where I fully mean to outrace her some day and have twelve biological children (I just hope I am also blessed with so many twins and triplets!) I think this is partially down to the fact that I was so young when I did it I can't remember reading my first Chalet School book - they were always just sort of there - and Joey was always my favourite character. If I could have been anyone in the literary world, it would have been her.

On the other hand, I can see the point of view that she does become somewhat one dimensional near the end of the series. But this does match the usual plot well; new girl comes, struggles to fit in, is accepted at the end of term. Joey is an integral part of that acceptance, in most cases, and I do think EBD would struggle, particularly in some books, to have the happy ending without Joey. Perhaps, though, involving a second character for a similar role to Joey's would have made things slightly fresher - I don't know why, but Daisy always struck me as being a very good influence on the younger girls. She has her own career, so is clearly a contemporary role model, and she had difficulties in her own childhood so she would be able to empathise with the girls - particularly those who lose someone close to them. As Joey has never been through that like other people have, I think to have another character, even just for those situations, would have strengthed the plots.

Author:  JS [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I always rather accepted Joey (until finding the CBB!) and she was my favourite character, especially in the early books. I also like the 'holiday' books which tend to revolve round her. I can see where the 'bashers' are coming from - she does do some fairly outrageous things, especially in the later books and yes, as an adult, the whole 'spirit of the school' and retrospective hagiography thing is annoying.

But I do think it can go too far in the other direction. For example, 'evil deeds' attributed to Joey sometimes aren't as bad as are made out. For example, in Joey Goes to the Oberland, she was appalling to Simone in her 'steaming ahead with real families' remark, but what she said about doing up the chateau isn't as hideous as has been made out - she was basically just backing up what Andre was saying about keeping the best of the antiques - and there's not much you can do with destroyed tapestry, even if you have all the money in the world - and making the rest of the house liveable.

And yes, EBD probably loses perspective on Joey, but I think she does on other characters as well, especially towards the end of the series. For example, we see Miss Stewart as 'human' in Tyrol - she has toothache(?) and snaps at the class - but we never see the Abbess fall from her pedestal and all her actions are accepted uncritically. Personally I think it's another example of the books falling away quite dramatically as the series progresses to the mid-late Swiss ones.

Nice thread, Sunglass - thanks for starting it. Also, in terms of drabbles, I tend to prefer the ones where Joey isn't too horrible, although I'd single out Emma A's 'letters' as one where she's presented as a flawed, but rounded and (mostly) reasonable character, whose 'bad' actions are presented with some empathy. I haven't read (or even seen!) the 'Russell' ones mentioned above so couldn't comment.

Author:  Alison H [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I don't particularly like adult Joey, but what annoys me isn't Joey herself but the fact that EBD worships her! We are constantly being told that Joey is the best head girl the school ever had. People like the Brauns are supposed to worship her - why?? Long-lost former pupils and staff get in touch with her when it would be far more realistic for them to get in touch with Madge or Hilda instead. Hilda and other people consult her on things that are none of her business. EBD just completely overdoes it.

In the early books Joey is presented as a realistic character whose faults are recognised. In the later books, she can apparently do no wrong: no-one ever seems to find anything to fault in her often irritating behaviour (whereas other people, such as Con and Joan, are constantly being criticised for very little). Also, I find her constant comments about big families very tactless - it never seems to occur to her that some people would love to have children but are unable to - and the way she adopts random children all over the place gets too much.

It's just all overdone. I think it would have been much better had Madge and Jem gone to the Gornetz Platz as well, then Joey wouldn't have been in our faces as much as she is.

Author:  JennieP [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Interesting topic! I love Joey-bashing - on the CBB. But reading the books, somehow I get sucked into the magical world of Saint Joey, paragon and mother.

I think the problem is that EBD doesn't seem to realise that the character traits she is presenting as so admirable are actually very negative. (For example, what we see as tactlessness is EBD portraying her as seeing situations clearly. Similarly, her need to be centre of attention is seen by EBD as her always available to help, the way she uses older children as slaves/ignores younger ones is teaching responsibility, her psycho switching between controlling mother and best friend is EBD's portrayal of the perfect chummy but still maternal parent and her limited persepective is EBD seeing her as the spirit of the school etc). That plus infuriating re-writing of history results in the Joey we love to hate.

Author:  Cat C [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I think I agree with Alison here. The 'Joey-bashing' seems to be more about bashing the way EBD wrote Joey in the (later) Swiss books, rather than the character herself - whom most people seem to quite like up until at least Highland Twins.

Interestingly, that's the book where EBD says that she lost the last of her school-girl-ness, which would seem to be the key to it.

We're not even allowed to keep in touch with school-girl Joey through the triplets - Len is practically her polar opposite, we see very little of Con as aspiring author (producing abortive first novel attempts, or naive poetry), and Margot... Where is the tender-hearted but mischievous character she was labelled with as a toddler, and which might actually have been the closest to Joey on the surface?

Margot as a small child might have developed into a Joey-like character, with the added complication of out-standing academic ability. Very disappointing that she didn't.

Mary-Lou bashing is the same really - it's more a complaint about the way EBD wrote her than about the character herself, if that makes any sense at all?

Author:  MaryR [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I'm afraid I'm one of those who don't Joey-bash in my drabbles - but then nor do I include her very much, not even in my marathon ND. :D I think I just accept her as she is, warts and all. What infuriates me is the fact that Hilda is not allowed to comfort or sort out the girls - it always has to be Joey. Which I think makes both characters rather one-sided. Why does Joey never fail? :roll:

I don't mind Mary-Lou, either. In fact, I have rather a soft spot for her, and like her sensitivity and get-up-and-go. Maybe I just always wanted a part of all that super-confidence. :oops:

I must admit, Sunglass, I have often speculated as to why people who purport to love the books so much also deride so much of the characters in the books, and I am turned off on, the whole, by serious drabbles that constantly harp on all Joey's or Jack's or whoever's bad points. I don't mind the humorous drabbles - those I can enjoy, having written them myself. A lot of the things that go on in the books were the customs and mores fifty or more years ago, and perhaps that ought to be remembered.

Having said all that, I now feel rather like the school prig - I didn't set out to be! :bawling: It's not even as though I'm an enormous fan of the series. The only one who I am a fan of is Hilda - she keeps me reading the books. :oops:

Now going away to hide. :hiding:

Author:  Jenefer [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I agree with Alison. I like Joey until the move to Switzerland when she becomes more and more irritating. The same thing happens to Mary Lou. In fact I dislike the Switzerland books as a whole. They do produce some great drabbles however.

Author:  Sarah_K [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Back when I actually wrote drabbles I know some people said that mine were Joey-bashing because she didn't come off very well in them but actually I rather like Joey.

I think when I start looking at the books in any great detail I notice flaws in Joey's cahracter that the books tend to gloss over (her tendency to ignore her boys being the one that really got to me but she's also often quite unaware of other peole's feelings and struggles even though she's described as being good at that!) and once I've noticed them I want to talk about them or think about them BUT to me that just makes Joey human and I'd far rather Joey with flaws than a plaster saint (and I'm fairly certain she'd agree)

That said sometimes it's fun to take things to extremes :twisted:

Author:  Lesley [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I'm another that doesn't tend to write a great deal about Joey. I have written the occasion short drabble that could be classed as 'Joey-bashing' - the one in PatMac's epic about Joey writing a book on child care springs to mind. However in my own series' she has only a few scenes and, on the whole, sympathetic ones.

When I read the books I accept Joey and the entire Joey-worship as the norm, but once I stop reading I see that EBD does her central character no favours by allowing her to appear so over-powering. As a child and young adult Joey was an extremely good character, she had a number of good points but these were balanced by her faults. She was impatient, would only try hard with a subject she liked, tried to avoid responsibility and could take offence at the slightest of things. She felt that new girls should be left to settle in themselves without any additional help and was ridiculously jealous of anyone that didn't immediately falll down in worship at the Robin's feet. But these didn't make her a bad character - instead it made her believable and real, she was popular and out-going, had a lively sense of fun and managed to get into trouble on a number of occasions because of it.

Compare that with the Triplets - we are told that Len is a carbon copy of her - no, Len has no faults, is never in trouble, has an acutely over-developed sense of responsibility and actually does try to help other girls - something I can remember Joey doing only the once - Joyce lionton, and this was after Gillian had asked her to. Con is described as dreamy and tactless - yet nothing is mentioned about this very fault still being a major part of the adult Joey. As for Margot - her love of mischief is blamed on her devil and her being spoilt when younger - Joey was just as ill when a young child yet was never allowed to use that as an excuse. And why was she, in fact all the Triplets, expected to be so much higher than the rest of the girls of their age? Joey was never a brilliant student - she was good at some things but not all.

In conclusion I think we Joey-bash because there are reasons to do so - Joey as an adult is presented to us as a paragon, but she never was as a child. I don't feel she was the best head girl - I could never envisage her doing as Mary Lou did in helping so many people, including the Triplets. Mary Lou, although annoying, does at least show, while at school, all the virtues that Joey was supposed to have but never did - at least not when a school girl.

Author:  Ash [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I agree with lots of the above - I really liked Joey as a child/young adult and was ridiculously excited when she had triplets (I was young at the time, it seemed like it would just be so much fun).

I still like her as an adult character but she is involved in everything - some things, like her inviting new girls to the house every term, seem lovely & a great idea for a character that has been with the school from the very start. But her being dragged in to every situation or to deal with every problem child is just a bit overdone.

I find some of the staff room scenes particularly odd where the staff are discussing that a particular child/form is a nightmare to deal with and they all agree that they can't think of anything to solve the problem until one of them suddenly remembers Joey and her amazing problem fixing skills. I'm not a teacher but would like to think that live-in teachers with considerable experience between them would be able to come up with possible solutions every once in a while.

I like the holiday books based on her family (at least the ones I've read so far), since they focus on a different side of Joey.

Maybe the later books would have been less repetitive if the Robin hadn't been sent off as a nun so herself & Joey could alternate in the role of fixing problem girls (the Robin obviously singing the Red Sarafan to calm all the silly girls down!).

Author:  Nightwing [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

This is a really interesting topic to bring up, Sunglass, thank you :)

I like Joey. Although I think she's badly written later in the series I think that almost everything is badly written later in the series, so she doesn't exactly stand out to me. I do think that Joey becomes a kind of cure-all - you know that old saying about if you have a hammer everything else looks like a nail? Joey is EBD's hammer and every New Girl is a nail.

I like drabbles where Joey is allowed to have faults but is still treated sympathetically. I don't like stories where everyone secretly dislikes her and finds her incredibly annoying, not only because I think it's unfair to Joey but because it's unfair to other characters as well. However, the easy solution is just for me to not read those stories - and the ones which are written just for pure silliness are still fun to me anyway.

The thing is, I'm kind of sensitive about any kind of character-bashing. I'm in a number of fandoms where female characters are widely-hated in a way that is fairly misogynistic*, and the experience has made me overly defensive of any unpopular character - so, while joining the CBB has definitely opened my eyes to some of adult Joey's faults that I've always taken for granted before, it has also made me love her all the more for her virtues.

*Not that I think Joey-bashing is misogynistic, at all!

Author:  Abi [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I'm another who finds late Joey rather annoying. However, having an immense capacity to find my way round things I don't like in books, I simply place the blame firmly on EBD rather than Joey herself. When I read the books, I don't tend to think about it too much, but simply go along with the whole Joey-is-the-sun-around-which-the-CS-revolves thing.

Author:  Sunglass [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I'm relieved people are liking the topic! I had some faint sense it might end up being controversial, with Joey-lovers savaging Joey-haters and vice versa...

My own take on Joey is that EBD has a total blind spot about her as the series goes on (you sometimes get this with novelists and recurring characters, I think.) It doesn't seem to occur to EBD that the way to make her favourite character beloved by her readers is NOT to have everyone in the series take for granted that she is of compelling interest. The problem is that somewhere along the way Joey as a character stops working for our liking, as readers - from being a rounded character she becomes 'flat', almost, as our interest is taken for granted. We (or some of us!) can point to her intermittent adult smugness and boastfulness, her inability to keep information about others private, her attention-hogging and her habit of guilt-tripping people into doing things, but EBD never says this. We can see it only if we read her 'against the grain' of what EBD consciously intended.

Really, what is happening by the Swiss books is Joey at the centre of a kind of cult of celebrity which is blind to her less perfect side. (I always find myself comparing her with the way Antonia Forest writes her Marlow sisters, who are massively talented, charismatic, and popular - the difference is that AF puts in several prominent people who dislike one or more of the Marlows, so we always have a range of perspectives on them - there's a place for feelings of dislike in the novels themselves.)

Whereas EBD lives in a rather black and white world, where only the 'bad' and the unhappy are disliked, so there's no position from which anyone could dissent from the cult of Joey. Which is, I think, why there is a temptation to be critical of her - we're so relentlessly forced into having to think she's wonderful. I think if there were the occasional new girl who said 'No thanks, I'm not keen on paper games, bathing babies or tea with an untrained St Bernard - why do I have to go to tea with this total stranger?' we wouldn't be so tempted toslaughter her character!

Author:  JB [ Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I think I agree with Alison here. The 'Joey-bashing' seems to be more about bashing the way EBD wrote Joey in the (later) Swiss books, rather than the character herself - whom most people seem to quite like up until at least Highland Twins.

I couldn’t put this better, although I really like her in Three Go too when she deals very sensitively with Mary Lou.

Later, Joey is said to have a famed understanding of others but I see this more as showing people how they should behave to be “proper” Chalet girls and then standing back to watch the transformation (which invariably happens).

Neither do I think she shows the same level of understanding with her own children – Con’s labelled as the “dreamy one” with no understanding of her writing shown by her mother (who shares many of the same traits) and when she tells Len not to play “fast and loose” with Reg. Words fail me …..

However, had I been a lonely new girl, I think I’d have been very grateful to her if she took me under her wing.

As a pupil, Joey was interesting because she wasn’t perfect. Even as a prefect and head girl, she didn’t behave well towards people she didn’t like – Eustacia, Matron Besley (?) and Joyce Linton. Her flaws made her a more rounded character because we saw her many good points too. As an adult, she’s perfect apart from the odd mad prank (falling downstairs, dying herself green, etc) which isn't actually funny but which EBD intends to show Joey hasn’t really grown up.

She is easy to parody – Jennie and Alison’s drabbles take aspects of Joey and develop them to extremes, but extremes which are recognisably possible.

Other drabbles such as Emma’s letters and Jay B’s “Grey Walled Paradise” show a more realistic (and sad) take on how life could have developed within the Maynard family because Joey’s understanding only stretches are far as her own small universe.

Author:  JayB [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

:D I haven't set out to demonise Joey in GWP, but a story needs conflict to make it interesting, and I do think it's unrealistic that there is never any real conflict between the Maynard children and their parents. I think it's in Future, currently being discussed on the board, that we get Joey's smug reflections on how Len has never been a problem teenager.

So I'm taking some of the characteristics that Joey (and Jack!) are shown to have in the books and maybe exaggerating them a bit for my own evil purposes!

I agree with everyone else that Joey's deterioration as a character happens over the course of the Swiss years, her worst faults being her complete disregard for anyone's privacy or confidentiality and her need to be the centre of attention (a need she always had to some extent, but when she was younger Madge or Jem or Nell or someone would squash her).

But even in the Swiss books, I don't think she's always annoying. She deals with Richenda quite sensitively, I think. And we do occasionally see Hilda or another member of staff showing impatience when Jo swans in and interrupts their work.

As children, I expect we all saw Joey as we were meant to see her, and even now when I'm actually reading the books I'm drawn into EBD's world and can ignore her faults. But when we come to discuss the books with the perspective of adults, I think it's impossible to ignore the flaws in Jo's characterisation, and so we are critical - in the neutral sense, rather than meaning we are wholly negative about her.

Author:  tiffinata [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I think we bash Joey or other Characters who EBD sets up to be the almost too good to be true ones. The ones who have no human failings. I reckon if the series had continued we might have done more Len bashing!
You read Antonia Forest's Kingscote girls- They use slang and are (mostly) portrayed as normal girls, not saints.
EBD sets up her ideal woman- someone we should all look up to and (reading as kids) strive to be like. A super-positive influence on us poor little naive kiddies!
However I think she fails because Joey is too good!

Author:  Pado [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

It never occurred to me to be a Joey-basher until I found the CBB. I think when I'm reading I become that innocent child who loved the Chalet books, but on the computer I turn into the snarky adult who views everything with a critical, cynical eye. Dual duelling personalities?

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I certainly didn't intend to sound as if I were parodying Joey, but I do think EBD turns her into some sort of caricature. In the early books, Joey is the girl who befriends unhappy Simone and gives the last of her Christmas shopping money to someone in need, but she's also the girl who encourages her friends to go to the ice carnival without thinking how worried Madge will be if she finds that they're missing and who sometimes has a go at people because she's in a bad mood. That's fine: everyone has good points and bad points. In the later books, she's often annoying but is never criticised for anything.

EBD admits (via Kathie Ferrrars) that Mary-Lou can be a bit much, but everyone worships at the court of Joey! And, as has already been said, Joey's constant involvement with everything becomes rather silly. Even Joey herself seems to get sick of it at the end, when she is hoist by her own petard as Hilda takes it for granted that she'll have Althea to stay!

Author:  Elle [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I suspect I may be considered a 'Joey Basher', although I never set out to become one! I agree the idea that Joey as a child has faults, compared to the Joey as the perfect mother/ friend/ problem solver. The majority of my Joey bashing takes place in the later books. I did once write a semi-serious drabble about Joey being a bully as a young girl (it was lost in the Great Hack), but that also invoved Grizel and Juliet as bullies too. I find that the later Joey is very easy to bash, as opposed to the younger Joey.

Author:  Mel [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I think people on the board become Joey-Bashers because it is fun and perhaps that everyone knows or has known some person who is universally adored out of habit apart from anything else. EBD's depiction of her in the Swiss books diminishes the other characters, I find. It has been said that Hilda and the staff should be capable of sorting out new girls. I also think that the staff can't be so dull that they perk up or feel 'refreshed' after a ten-minute visit from Jo! Sadly, all the things that irritate us are put in by EBD to make us like her! That seems to suggest that by this stage, EBD wasn't mixing enough with people in order to really understand character.

Author:  JS [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I wonder if EBD secretly hated Joey by the end of the series (as Christie was supposed to do with Poirot and, indeed, she had her character Mrs Oliver talk about how much she disliked her own Finnish detective)

Maybe she tries to put in bits to make us like Joey, who is, one assumes, her goose that has laid a relatively golden egg, but her own secret animus can't help but show through.... Perhaps someone could write a drabble about EBD murdering her prize creation :devil:

Author:  MJKB [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Like a number of other people, I never realised how much the adult Joey annoyed me until I started following these discussions. I think most of us like to see something akin to vulnerability in the strongest of characters. It makes them appear more human. Joey demonstrates little in the way of vulnerability which makes us unable to empathise with her.
She becomes self-absorbed and incredibly pleased with herself and firmly ensconsed on a pedistal from which she is not allowed to fall.
I get the feeling from the later books that EBD could not prevent Joey's character from becoming stultified. The young Joey is a vivacious and multi-faceted creation, quite probably the joy of her creator. Unfortunately, as the series progresses, either she or EBD herself, runs out of steam and she eventually morphs into this two dimensional character that is the adult Joey. There are flashes, now and then, of the original creation, but the older the series becomes the less often this happens.
I have to add that, while I AM a Joey basher, I still like her better than most other adult creations in the GO genre. And if my daughter attended the CS I'd be very happy for her to visit Freudesheim for a bit of tea and sympathy.

Author:  JayB [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Stirring the pot, adding fuel to the flames -

Joey's imperfections, and the way in which she is regarded by her creator, her family, friends and acquaintances, and ourselves, do at least make her interesting and provoke a lot of discussion.

Other characters are never shown to have any flaws, and lso attract very little discussion. Hilda (dare I whisper it) is actually rather bland and boring.

(Someone somewhere doesn't want to me to post this. I'm repeatedly getting a message about connection problems, and the problem isn't on my end.)

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

JayB wrote:
Hilda (dare I whisper it) is actually rather bland and boring.

As for Len ...

Jack Lambert, whom I assume was destined to succeed Len as heroine, is a pain in the neck, but at least she's not boring.

Author:  JayB [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

As for Len ...

I find Len quite difficult to write, in a story that isn't focused on her. When you take away the Responsible Eldest Daughter and the Responsible Head Girl, there's not a lot left that instantly says 'this is Len'. Hard Working Student is about her only other defining characteristic. Whereas OOAO, for example, can be instantly recognisable in just a few words.

Author:  Nightwing [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Alison H wrote:
And, as has already been said, Joey's constant involvement with everything becomes rather silly. Even Joey herself seems to get sick of it at the end, when she is hoist by her own petard as Hilda takes it for granted that she'll have Althea to stay!

In one of the early books in the series young Joey struggles with writing the story she wants because her characters insist on going off and doing their own things. I like to think that this is exactly what Joey is trying to do - rebel against her author, even if her attempt is thwarted this time!

Author:  Meg14 [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I always wondered if Joey's character and the way it comes across in the Swiss books is a demonstration of how long EBD had been writing the story. In the end it became difficult to keep it fresh and she ended up relying on stereotypes of her character and the more EBD wrote the more the character became more and more entrenched and hence she ends up being so annoying!

Having said that this doesn't explain what she does to the character of Madge who goes from being an entrepreunial young woman who is brave enough to go and set up a school in Austria! Although we see less of Madge in the Swiss books I think EBD does more harm to her character than to Joey's. I think there are still flashes of the old Joey and this makes her more sympathetic than Madge. However, we see less of Madge than we do of Joey so may be the deterioration in Madge's character isn't so annoying.

Author:  Katherine [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Nightwing wrote:
In one of the early books in the series young Joey struggles with writing the story she wants because her characters insist on going off and doing their own things. I like to think that this is exactly what Joey is trying to do - rebel against her author, even if her attempt is thwarted this time!

But Matey says this rebelling is a good thing; it's a sign of real, good characters. What Joey's character does is not a positive development.

Author:  Nightwing [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Katherine wrote:
But Matey says this rebelling is a good thing; it's a sign of real, good characters. What Joey's character does is not a positive development.

Sorry - I meant in terms of Joey not wanting to be saddled with another child during the holidays!

Author:  Katherine [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Nightwing wrote:
Sorry - I meant in terms of Joey not wanting to be saddled with another child during the holidays!

Oh sorry - should have been obvious to me from your quote.
I wonder if someone had said to EBD - "Stop! Too many random adoptees!" So she made her try to reject a child being foisted upon her.

Author:  Kathy_S [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I am probably among the most rabid of the anti-Joey-bashing faction. For me, there now seems to be an anti-Joey stereotype that is far worse than the worst of EBD's deus ex machina excursions: that Jo is a narrow-minded, manipulative, self-centered, egotistical, emotionally blackmailing, hypocritical, interfering, exploitative, COW, and what fun to see her get her come-uppance and be universally reviled or shunned by her emotionally abused children. Originally, I enjoyed the odd amusing take-off, and could easily avoid small pockets of Joey-bashing in, say, the early Jennie-drabbles, but now the negative is so pervasive – not just in drabbles! – that I seem to have become hypersensitized. It worries me that I no longer find even relatively mild poking of fun funny. I find it harder and harder to identify pockets of the warmth and security of the CS universe I know and love without abandoning the CBB for EBD herself.

I'm not sure why this phenomenon and the related fields of Mary-Lou bashing and CS-ethos denigrating affect me so viscerally. Part of it is, of course, that I am an escapist reader, and resent having my nice escapist world traded in for a far less appealing universe. Part of it is the shock of an older person who can't understand the cultural shifts that reinterpret an emphasis on helping others and helping one's children develop an "informed conscience" as somehow unsavory, if not interfering and manipulative. But I think a great deal of my response is the defense reflex that comes to the fore if I hear real life people denigrating real life friends.

None of this means I think Jo is perfect. (She'd be awfully boring if she was.) I know that at times I would find some of her mannerisms annoying. Sometimes I imagine we'd have friendly arguments or serious conversations on various topics. Other times I'd just say, "that's Jo," and accept it as part of what makes her herself. But I can't imagine sitting around shredding her character, and if I were there when others did so and didn't try to diffuse it – which admittedly I'm often too intimidated to do in real life as well -- I'd feel horribly guilty and as though I were condoning cattiness. Even if she weren't a friend, dangit. And she is.

Author:  Tor [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Jo is a narrow-minded, manipulative, self-centered, egotistical, emotionally blackmailing, hypocritical, interfering, exploitative, COW, and what fun to see her get her come-uppance and be universally reviled or shunned by her emotionally abused children

Even if she weren't a friend, dangit. And she is.

I think, Kathy, that you have highlighted for me one of the cruxes with the Joey-bashing phenomena (and I was also interested to hear from Nightwing about misogynistic attitudes/attacks on female characters in other fora).

I would hazard a guess that the majority of CS readers on this board came to books as children, and immersed themselves uncritically in the world of CS. As a child I was a definite Joey and ML worshipper, and totally bought the myth and revisionist histories that EBD created for Joey, in particular. I wanted to be invited to Freudisheim, and be ne of the blessed few who got invited to call her Aunty because of my winning personality. :oops: :oops: :oops:

However, coming back to them as comfort reads as an adult, critique of the books and characters cannot fail to creep in, although it never really supplants the childhood emotional link to - as you succintly put it - my old friends. So I find myself in a quandary - the adult response to the adult Jo, and my childhood love for *all* aspects of Jo (and Mary-Lou). It leaves on with a slight feeling of being duped. And it also build on the slight suspicion that I had as a child that Joey might have been like one of those 'cool' teachers, who surrounded themselves with a bit of a special gang. Finding a group of people lie the CBB, to bitch and moan about Joey is a little cathartic. It feels ok, because we are all 'in the family'.

The second point that I'd like to make is the difficult path the CBB has to negotiate - it mixes critique with emotional response. If we are to critique the books, and treat EBD as an author of merit, we maybe ought to assume that the development of Joey's character, as shown by behaviour, actions and plot, is deliberate on her part. And to contrast that with the 'internalized' concept of Joey, as presented to us via other characters is a valid thing to do.

(of course, we could all also argue that EBD wasn't a great author, particularly in later years, and her work wont stand up to that sort of close critique. She thought she was writing a character than conformed to the 'myth'. Still, by looking at how she fails to produce the character she intends allows us to speculate wildly at her own inner demons/emotions etc etc)

But when critiquing say, the adult Jo charcter, discussions on the CBB always stray into emotional territory. It's great! I like it that way. They yo-yo between more typical (almost) objective discussion of the
books and characters, and talking about the story and characters as if they were real. Thus pointing out inconsistencies between the way Joey behaves, and the way EBD wants us to see her behaviour, naturally then seeps into our emotional response as well.

Phew... almost there....

And so, because there are an awful lot of books, with an awful lot of incidents like these to discuss, AND because Jo (and ML) are presented as paragons, and somehow invulnerable, the emotional response to Joey can take on a certain kind of momentum, ending with the caricature Kathy quotes above. I think this is unavoidable given the nature of the board, but I wouldn't sacrifice the chance to critique to prevent Jo-bashing, and I also wouldn't want to lose the emotional responses/personal aspect of the board discussions either.

Sorry, this was going to be a single line response! Hah!

ETA: of course, I actually think a lot of this stems from EBD didactic attitude, telling us how we (and new girls) ought to think/feel about Joey/Mary-Lou etc. No one likes to be told what to think, especially intelligent women (the majority of this boards membership *waves to intelligent men too*), hence we rebel!

Author:  Cel [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I'm with Kathy S. on the Joey-bashing debate. It was something that really surprised me when I first found the board (and that's not meant to criticise anyone here, the diversity of opinions is a good thing!). But I was really shocked to read what some people saw as Joey's underhanded motivations or her thoughtless behaviour or her questionable parenting or whatever, when I had always seen her through EBD's eyes.

And I don't think that's necessarily because (like almost everyone else) I was quite young when I first came to the books. I think it's more that when her actions or words are read in the context of the books, Joey's warm-heartedness and genuine feeling for people just come through, whereas when quotes are lifted and interpreted in the context of our own modern-day expectations about various social/political issues, lots of aspects can be seen as problematic. For example, Joey's comment to Simone in Oberland about 'real families' never struck me as anything other than a woman being genuinely happy for her friend, whom she knows has wanted for years to have more children. She wasn't making a tactless statement to a group of women who may have had fertility problems, she was speaking to a close friend whose feelings on the matter she presumably knew, and nobody else was likely to be offended.

Sure, the later books are a bit annoying in terms of the sheer repetitiveness of lots of Joey's behaviours, but they're annoyingly repetitive about everything at the later stages, so for me that doesn't really reflect on Joey herself too much.

This topic seems to inspire long posts - sorry!

Author:  Sarah_G-G [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

This is a really interesting discussion! I can't help feeling that in a way it's inevitable that by the end of 58/62 books, if there's one main character who has survived everything and continued to have a strong influence, this kind of polemic is going to be created- it's very difficult to come away from reading the CS without having an opinion on Joey! From my point of view, I'm not a Joey-basher but will read drabbles that develop her character realistically (if not in a way that EBD would have done). I'll read the odd parody but while I acknowledge Joey's faults as both a child and an adult, I still ultimately like her. When reading the books she occasionally irritates me (usually when I feel her presence is unnecessary, so it's hardly her fault really!) but at bottom I still find her to be a warm-hearted woman with the best of intentions. She is far from being perfect and I can see that she may well have problems as her children grow up and encounter worlds she never has, which is why I accept that portrayal in drabbles, with a certain degree of sadness.

The vast majority of Joey-bashing on here definitely tends to happen in the later books, when EBD has forgotten that even (or especially?) her main character has to be multi-faceted to be believable and liked. Maybe a part of it stemmed originally from that; EBD forgot to criticise so her readers stepped in and, having started, found it fun / all too easy to carry on. As other people have said, Joey ends up disliked as a result of EBD's failing writing powers in later books. Could it also be that we feel betrayed by EBD's presentation of The Perfect Joey in the later books, when we can clearly see that she is far from being so? Mary-Lou is written the same way (ordinary but genuinely kind and well-meaning in early books, a paragon of virtue in later ones) and comes in for her fair share of "bashing." By contrast, Perfect Len is left largely alone. She was never written brilliantly in the first place and so fails to ignite the passion needed to seriously Len-bash. Her character doesn't become idealised and one-dimensional, it always was written that way, unlike Joey and Mary-Lou who start off so promisingly and end up...well, not so good.

One final thought. In most of the later books, Joey only appears for a scene or two anyway, which is probably why it feels as though she never does anything interesting! By the time of the later Swiss books, her role is essentially 1) tell staff about Problem New Girl 2) meet Problem New Girl 3) fix Problem New Girl. Of course her character becomes dissatisfying and one dimensional- the story has moved away from her but she can't quite finally let it go.

Author:  Tor [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Perfect Len is left largely alone. She was never written brilliantly in the first place and so fails to ignite the passion needed to seriously Len-bash.

Very good point!

Thinking about it, I think I might be an EBD-basher more than a Joey-basher.

Author:  Aquabird [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I didn't have any particular opinion of Joey until I discovered the CBB; I neither liked nor disliked her, she was just, well, there. I have very little interest in the Maynard family as a whole - I accept that they're part of the books, but I'm more interested in the school itself, the lessons, the pranks, the banter, the delicious cream cakes and milky coffee, the exotic locations, the conversations in the staff room, and just the whole general atmosphere of boarding school in that era. The fact that my first CS book was New Mistress probably didn't help; I had no idea why exactly Kathie was going to tea with some random woman who lived next door. Joey doesn't feature very much in that book, so I didn't really get why everyone thought she was so wonderful.

Reading some of the discussions on here about Joey have definitely altered my perception of her, and certain things grate now when reading the books where they didn’t before. It’s only really with Joey, though. I still see the other characters pretty much as I’ve always done, even Mary-Lou and Len.

Personally, I find Joey bearable until she's about fifteen, but once she becomes a prefect I don’t like her. Something about her manner just irritates me, especially when contrasted with Simone, Marie and Frieda, who all IMHO conduct themselves better. But then after she leaves school, I start to like her again; from Jo Returns up to about Three Go she seems like a fun, grown-up schoolgirl, probably as EBD intended us to see her. Then from Island onwards she becomes Perfect, and Miss Annersley and the staff constantly wish she was there to solve the Problem New Girls, which is irritating when one knows that they’re perfectly competent enough to do it themselves.

That said, I wouldn’t set out to deliberately bash her, per se. I have parodied her (and Mary-Lou and Len and a dozen others) in my Bridget Jones drabble, but that's because they've got characteristics that I can take the mickey out of. If I were writing a serious drabble I probably would try and make her out to be as kind and understanding as EBD does.

Wow, now that is probably the longest reply I’ve ever written on a topic! Nice thread! :lol:

Author:  JB [ Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Then from Island onwards she becomes Perfect, and Miss Annersley and the staff constantly wish she was there to solve the Problem New Girls, which is irritating when one knows that they’re perfectly competent enough to do it themselves.

For me, this is where her constant presence at the school becomes stretched. Moving close to Plas Howells makes sense but I feel it's contrived for the Maynards to move to Carnbach as it's miles away from the san so poor Jack can't even come home each evening. Then, she fills in as history teacher for a term ...

Author:  Cat C [ Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Maybe EBD's idea was that from about Island onwards, the triplets should become the central, interesting characters, and Joey should revert to married-woman-with-children stereotype, as many others had done before her (and as we've discussed), BUT she couldn't bear to fade her out as much as all the others (especially Madge, for goodness sake), so we're stuck with this two-dimensional character in the foreground.

I was also thinking about this more generally, and I think that really Joey-bashing is the most obvious way to subvert the EBD prototype (is that the right word?), which is also done in various other ways?

I'm actually far more uncomfortable with (say) evil Josette than with Joey-bashing, because it seems more radically out of character - whereas evil Jem or Jack are fine for me, because they never had much in the way of character anyway...

Author:  Sunglass [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Cat C wrote:
Maybe EBD's idea was that from about Island onwards, the triplets should become the central, interesting characters, and Joey should revert to married-woman-with-children stereotype, as many others had done before her (and as we've discussed), BUT she couldn't bear to fade her out as much as all the others (especially Madge, for goodness sake), so we're stuck with this two-dimensional character in the foreground.

I think there's something in that - EBD does have (like many other classic GO writers) some extremely entrenched, idealistic notions about marriage, and what it does to/for a woman - crowning achievement of womanhood, start of 'real' adulthood, source of deep, womanly joys etc, especially when you factor in motherhood into the bargain. So, if it is kind of the diploma/crowning glory of life etc, presumably any very marked change after the first few years/children would be seen in negative terms, especially when EBD (again, being of her time to an extent) sees married women exclusively as confined to the domestic space and as icons of domestic stability? Which obviously isn't good for narrative, which suits her conception of adolescent girls as continually changing and fluid much better...

But then she finds she can't really let Joey go entirely and you get a bit of a clash between the lingering elements of zany adolescent Joey, who breezily calls her triplets One, Two and Three, climbs trees and invents odd sandwich fillings, and Womanly Wise Joey. I suppose EBD's model for later married Joey is the later books of the Anne of Green Gables series, where the children provide much of the plot, and Anne appears mostly as a comforting, beloved presence, presiding over a very happy house. Though I've always liked the slightly more sophisticated chapter in Ingleside where she feels neglected by Gilbert and suspects he still harbours feelings for his old girlfriend (which of course turns out not to be true, but gives Anne-as-Mother a fabulous chance to blaze out and be striking and sexually-admired in public, and for a romantic reconciliation with G.)

There's never the faintest suggestion of even one moment of discord in Joey and Jack's marriage, or indeed in any of the marriages, bar the 'bad' ones we hear about retrospectively at a distance, like the Venables, or Ted Grantley's parents. I suppose this may well have to do with EBD's own early life - maybe it was a sensitive spot, and contributes to her sense that married people changing or developing in any way is probably bad...?

Author:  JayB [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I wonder if it was EBD herself, or her publishers, or her readers, who resisted the idea of Joey fading into the background? EBD did make a quite determined attempt to write her out when she sent Jo to Canada; she could have kept her there longer, or let her and Jack stay in England and had the focus of the series move to Switzerland with the triplets and Mary Lou, with Jo being mentioned/appearing about as frequently as Madge.

Did she bring Jo back from Canada, and settle her next door to the School on the Platz, in response to reader/publisher demand, I wonder? Had she run out of things to say about Jo and was struggling to find things to do with her in Switzerland?

Author:  Sunglass [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

That's a good point. I think that I'm so conscious, through discussions on this board, of the extent of EBDisms which cumulatively suggest pretty lax editing and proofing, that I tend to discount her publishers altogether! It would make a certain amount of sense, though, to think of her publishers/public demand being the operative force in retaining Joey long beyond her natural usefulness to a girls' school series. (Which is what I believe happened with LM Montgomery and Anne, whom she disliked having to keep writing about - interestingly, LMM's own favourite character, Emily Starr, is a quite dark, dislikeable, difficult character as an adult, rather than likeable Anne.)

Though I suppose you could argue, too, that as EBD started off the CS in part from an adult perspective - Madge's financial need etc - she was always partly invested in an adult POV, and may have been relieved to have an adult main character in later Joey to fill in gaps between Mary-Lou and the triplets? I never find her writing of much younger girls like early Jack very convincing...

Author:  Alison H [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

It'd be interesting to know what the reaction from fans to Joey being sent off to Canada was.

I wonder if, at that time, through no fault of her own, EBD was perhaps having some problems over what direction to take the school in, and that's why she experimented with having one book minus Jo. The original USP of the Chalet School was that it was in this gorgeous, slightly exotic, location, and in (I think) Three Go it's made clear that the idea is to move back there ASAP. By the time Jo left for Canada, it was (in real life terms, not by CS years) 1952: the war had been over for 7 years and Austria was still under Allied military control (it'd only be so for another 3 years, but obviously EBD wasn't to know that), so EBD must've been a little unsure whether to wait and see what happened in Austria or do something totally different.

In the books published in the mid to late '40s things were getting quite Abbey-esque, with lots of scenes set at Madge and Joey's homes. Then the school moved to St Briavel's, which was different for a while with the birds and the boats et al, but by the later British books some of the scenes could've come from any other boarding school series, all the stuff about hockey matches and so on. Then, when the school moved to Switzerland, Madge and Jem were left behind, Robin was packed off to Canada, and the fact that Frieda lived quite nearby was soon forgotten about. I'm never sure whether EBD kept the Maynards
because so many other links with the past were gone or whether she deliberately got everyone else out of the picture so that Joey could take centre stage.

Sorry for waffling :oops: .

Author:  Jennie [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

This is a tremendously interesting discussion.

For my own part, I came very late to the CS, in fact I was in my fifties when I first read them, so I don't have the multiple viewpoints that other board members have from reading the books as a child, and going back to them as an adult, which is perhaps why I don't like the adult Jo very much at all.

That said, I love the Tyrol books, and find Jo likeable in them, as she's a normal schoolgirl then with good and bad sides to her character, and certainly her full complement of mischief and thoughtless and impulsive actions.

The Swiss books are, I find, rather bland and boring and certainly formulaic, depending far too often on tenuous and far-fetched relationships being discovered. And then there is what, for me, is Jo's chief flaw. For someone so all-knowing and wise, Jo is remarkably unable to take care of herself, needing to be put to bed, and she simply has never taken responsibility for her own emotional health, leading to situations where her daughters who are twenty years younger than than their mother are being morally and emotionally blackmailed into looking after her, so she doesn't get upset. What is worse is that even the younger children are made aware that their behaviour has to be circumscribed because it might upset Mamma, not because it's dangerous, anti-social, or anything else.

As for Joey-bashing. Well, it started in RTW's 'A Change For Con' when Jo behaved like a harpy when she discovered that Con was pregnant whilst still a teenager and unmarried.

'Jo Maynard in 2004' was the result of a discussion on the board, and when I started to write it, it was without a plan in mind, but prompts from various people helped me along the way. It turned into a look at how she would see the new century and its phenomena without in the least understanding them. The later part of this drabble was prompted by Patmac's wonderful drabble, and she and I egged each other on, and even had roughly the same sort of events in them.

When the Russell universe began to clamour to be written, Jo's part in it was a reductio ad absurdem, but based very firmly on EBD's writings. Can anyone deny that Jo butts in? Does she ever doubt her welcome wherever she chooses to go? So, she went out to Australia to butt in, and slowly discovers that she is wrong; the whole basis of her trip out there is that of a willing misapprehension, and she becomes extremely unpopular as a result of it.

It was an imp of mischief that led to 'Jo Returns to the Oberland' but I still feel that her character in that is firmly based on EBD, because the adult Jo has never had to rely on herself alone to manage her household. Yes, she's very good at telling other people what to do, but not so good at putting her own back into the work. she ahs always been treated as if she is special and does not have to work at the mundane tasks of living, so I wanted the shock to be an enormous one. I also wanted Jack to realise that his treatment of Jo as a fragile creature who must never be faced with the harsh realities of life has been wrong, and she is capable of more than having babies and writing school stories. I know that the Maynard household probably needed the income from her writing,so I did not denigrate this aspect of her life.

This is not an apology for writing these drabbles, rather an attempt to show how they came about. The Joey-bashing in them is not meant to demean her character, but to show that the author of the originals never actually allowed her main character to become fully mature, but rather had her performing actions that would, in real life, have been very much resented and rebelled against.

Author:  MJKB [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

We all have a limited shelf life. We all lose our first freshness. It happens in real life and it happens in fiction. EBD's spirit, if it still hovering around, should be immensely proud that the world she created is still being discussed, and the people with which she populated it are still provoking comment some eighty years after their inception. When Wilde said "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about" he spoke a rare truth.

Author:  Meg14 [ Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I was doing some thinking about this at the weekend and came up with a theory as to why Joey becomes so annoying in the later (Swiss)books. Was EBD making her have the kind of role that she wanted to have in life?

By this stage her school had failed and I wonder if although she was clearly very happy in her career and very successful with her books she would have liked to have kept up the interaction with a school. So my theory is that she developed the Joey charcter more and more into having the type of role she would have liked to have had not only a successful author but also able to interact with a school without having any responsibility for it and also the many children. And as she gets more and more into the role she would like to had it becomes more and more unrealistic (ie 11 babies!) and so moves away from the character with all the flaws who was so much more believable.

Author:  jennifer [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I think part of the appeal of Joey bashing is the adult realization that, however much she is idolized in CS land, if you actually knew her in real life, you'd probably find her rather strange and annoying to have around on a regular basis.

Interestingly, adult Joey really does maintain a lot of the adolescent Joey faults - the tactlessness, the need to be the centre of attention, the difficulty understanding other points of view, the emotional frailty and trouble regulating her responses to things. However, they are all now treated as virtues. I think this dichotomy, between Joey's behaviour and actions and the way *everyone* in the books idolizes her and fawns over her is part of the fuel behind the bashing.

And she's such a lovely character to parody too, or to push her normal behaviour to extremes and see what happens. :lol:

I think it is telling that almost all the Joey bashing, or evil Joey drabbles, or wild parodies, are of the Swiss Joey, later in the series. I rarely see Joey bashing with the adolescent or young mother version.

From another perspective, there is also the way the characters take on a life of their own. I think it's fairly clear that EBD intended Joey and her brood as an example of the perfect wife/mother/woman/family. However, when you look over the series as a whole, you see nuances and trends that go off in very different directions.

Author:  AngelaG [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Jennie wrote:
the adult Jo has never had to rely on herself alone to manage her household. Yes, she's very good at telling other people what to do, but not so good at putting her own back into the work. she ahs always been treated as if she is special and does not have to work at the mundane tasks of living.

It struck me, when I re-read CS on the Island as an adult how Jo was treated as a wife and mother. Mike has a difficult time teething but all the emphasis is on the effect on Jo. Much is made of the sleepless nights, her pale complexion and dark circles under her eyes. In Jack's opinion she is on the point of a breakdown and is sent away from her young family (including the baby) for a restful holiday. This enables her to overhear the conversation with Annis' aunt.

Well, she may be the young mother of 6 children, but the Trips were boarding that term, she did NO housework or cooking and had help with childcare...

This may just be the contrast between middle-class mothers of the 1950s and life today, but when I think of all the working mothers holding down jobs, looking after children and running a home I wish more of us had a Jack to order us away for a rest cure!


Author:  Alison H [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Given that we're always being told that women in the 1950s were slimmer and fitter than women today because of all the running around they did in the days before labour-saving gadgets and widespread car ownership, I would think that Joey was very much the exception!

The bit that worries me is when Charles has appendicitis and calls Len, who can only have been about 15 herself, because he's scared to wake his parents. Jack seems to have been very over-protective of Joey.

Author:  Emma A [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Jack's over-protectiveness is, in many ways, justified, since Joey will not look after herself, and is very easily upset emotionally. Her mental fears and troubles manifest themselves in physical frailty or illness, and therefore Jack tries to minimise these as much as possible. Otherwise, she appears to be in robust physical health when not mentally troubled or over-stimulated.

However, his protectiveness (and Jem's and Madge's before him) mean that Joey has not had to learn to deal with worries and fears (and excitements) with equanimity.

I think also that at this time, parents were often more concerned about the health and well-being of their spouse than their children - witness all the CS girls whose mothers go abroad to look after their husbands, leaving the children behind in the care of relatives or the school.

Author:  JayB [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Jack's over-protectiveness is, in many ways, justified, since Joey will not look after herself, and is very easily upset emotionally.

I think it becomes a vicious circle, doesn't it? Jo never learns to cope, because she's never had to. There's always someone there to put her to bed, look after the children etc., whether it's Madge, Jack, Frieda, Robin, Len or whoever happens to be around.

I wonder how Jo would cope if she found herself in the sort of situation that Margot Venables or Elisaveta found themselves in, where she was entirely responsible for her own well being and that of her very young children. What if she'd heard of Jack's supposed death when she'd been alone in the house with the triplets, with no-one to look after the children or rush to fetch Madge?

Author:  Sunglass [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I was trying to think about this, and then I realised that I find it virtually impossible to imagine Joey on her own at all. We always encounter her in the context of a very populated school/family situation, where she tends to be the centre of attention, talkative, breezy, outspoken, rushing about talking about her 'long' family, or school legends, with husband, children, old friends and a legion of medics about to look after her - but always very popular, beloved and by virtue of the way EBD writes her at the centre of whatever is going on.

It's really hard to think of what she would be like encountered outside of those contexts - suppose you met her in London in a professional situation, as a publisher or agent, and couldn't be assumed to have the slightest interest in her old school or her children....? (Would she talk about them anyway?) If you met her at, say, a Society of Authors reception, and you weren't a schoolgirl, an old girl of the CS or related to one, or someone in need of rescuing, what would she be like? How would she relate to you?

Author:  Mel [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

You are right about her never being alone Sunglass. If she ever suspects she might be, she plaintively invites company 'because I'm all on my lones.'

Author:  Luisa [ Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I've just realised who could have portrayed adult Joey - Joyce Grenfell. Remember the crashing bore at the school reunion; Lumpy Latimer?

Author:  Kate [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

She was quite happily alone in Kenya before she hears about Jo's parents - and in Rescue before Zephyr turns up. It'd be a bit pointless hearing about her alone; it wouldn't move the plot along for the most part.

Author:  Alison H [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

As someone who spends an awful lot of time reading historical novels, I would actually really like to "meet" Joey in a non-CS/family context, although I appreciate that EBD wouldn't have written scenes like that as they wouldn't have been relevant to the books.

She obviously had an extensive knowledge of history, we know that she spoke several languages, and also she'd travelled quite widely for someone at a time before travelling abroad was common. She'd probably have been very interesting to talk to once (if!) you managed to convince her that you really didn't want to hear about her hordes of children or tales of her schooldays. Unfortunately she's never presented in that way, though!

Author:  Tor [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

It'd be a bit pointless hearing about her alone; it wouldn't move the plot along for the most part.

Oh, I don't know... admittedly, given the formulaic nature of the Swiss books, it would have been rather out of place, but a bit of internal monologue from Joey, a bit more character development beyond the caricature she slowly becomes would have added a lot to the books. Ditto expanding the later 'holiday' stories beyond a complex way of gaining new CS pupils.

Rescue is a case in point - it is very independent of the Chalet School (aside from the fact that Joey et al are old girls), but interesting because CS fans want to know about Joey as much as the school itself.

I suspect there was a lot of fan pressure to keep Joey's presence in the stories - maybe EBD didn't have it in her in terms of enthusiasm/ability to this well in later life and didn't want to deviate from the 1 term per book, much more stereotypical school model she adopts then. Because if she had, the same fans who wanted more of Joey would have lapped up well written tales of their heroine in a number of contexts!

Author:  JS [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Because if she had, the same fans who wanted more of Joey would have lapped up well written tales of their heroine in a number of contexts!

As indeed we do, Tor. For example, it would be great to hear more about how she reacts to, say, a vet coming to the Sonnalpe?? Hint hint (but no pressure if you're still working on your PhD chapter 8) )

Author:  Tor [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Ah yes :oops:

Actually, I am really struggling with the thesis. The CBB is a terrible procrastination tool. But I will return to the adventures of Tim (and archibald).

Author:  MJKB [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Interesting that a couple of people have remarked that they missed Joey's presence in Feud. I did myself, and yet I still Joey-bash, but I love the scenes outside the school where Joey is entertaining friends or nursing a baby or talking to Jack. I also love descriptions of the different houses, though I find Freudesheim a bit too like an hotel to be interesting, much preferred Plas Gywn and the house in Guernsey. Some of EBD's books give a wonderful peek into the domestic life of middle class women and girls in mid 20th Century England. Love that.

Author:  Maeve [ Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Like many others, I never had any bad thoughts about Joey before I found the CBB :) But, counter to some folk who have written that it really troubles them and they worry that it is all too negative, I think that critiquing Joey (and Mary Lou, and different ideas in the books, etc.) in this way (as opposed to serious evil/family problem Joey, etc.) is part of the fun and safety and comfort of the CBB world, a world where virtually everyone else knows and LOVES the books as much as you do. I think many of us enjoy finding the flaws and problems in the books simply as another way of relishing our fascination and enjoyment of them.

For example, the trilingualism: as a child, I loved that part of the CS. As an adult, I still love the idea of it, but I also see the unlikeliness of it. And when there have been threads of how and if this could be possible, I enjoy the funny, sarcastic things others say as much as I enjoy the serious speculation about how the different language every day could have worked -- not because I don't like the CS, but, paradoxically, because I like it so much.

Now, outside the CBB, I would be much less critical of the CS -- it's kind of how, it's okay for me to criticize my family, but I don't want/like anyone else doing it. In the same way, I rather feel that the CBB is the place to try to look objectively and critically at the CS world, because everyone here clearly is drawn to it in a strong way. Does that make some sort of sense?

Author:  Tor [ Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I completely agree, Maeve!

Author:  JS [ Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Yes, I agree Maeve.

Author:  Maeve [ Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Oh good -- I normally despair of my written inarticulateness :)

Author:  abbeybufo [ Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Very well put, Maeve - I thought you expressed it very elegantly :D

Author:  MJKB [ Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I wish I could express things as articulately, Maeve. I tend to get all tangled up in what I want to say. As to your point, like you, I regard our critiquing as a mark of respect to and admiration for EBD. There are very few GO writers whose works could generate the level of interest and comment that EBD's have. It's not just the CS too, some of her other books are little gems. She gives the modern reader an insight into the social mores of a time that is SO different to our own.

Author:  Josette [ Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I agree too: I've only recently found the CBB, and didn't know anyone else who had read the books before this. Pretty much my first experience of anyone else's viewpoint on the books was reading CCGU :shock: which came as a horrible shock! As Maeve says, it's lovely to be able to discuss the characters with people who have, at least, a qualified affection for them.

My first Chalet books were Swiss ones, so I met adult Joey first and just thought she was a lovely, kind person who I would be really glad to know I could go to for help if I was plunged into a strange environment like boarding school! On rereading the books, it does strike me that her constant involvement with the school is a bit contrived, but I feel like she's an old friend and I'd miss her if she wasn't there. I do agree that the young Joey was far more interesting and dynamic as a character, largely because she was much more obviously flawed.

Author:  JS [ Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

Pretty much my first experience of anyone else's viewpoint on the books was reading CCGU which came as a horrible shock!

Me too, Josette - I had to keep reading bits out to my mum (also a fan) as the horror was relentless.

Author:  Caroline [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I'm not ashamed to say that I've always loved Joey. I think I see her through a rosy glow of nostalgic childhood reading, and whilst I tell myself I don't take the CS too seriously and am not at all precious about it, I really rather take every character at EBD's valuation when I read the books.

So, while I don't mind a bit of fun being poked at Joey's foibles or Jack's dosing of everyone in sight or Jem's alpha-male-ness, I do find a lot of bashing uncomfortable to read. I particularly dislike Joey (or whoever) being bashed for doing things that were perfectly normal to do in the 1940s and earlier, however we may regard them as wrong nowadays. And I also dislike bashing that has a certain nasty edge to it or reads as if the author absolutely detests Joey / Jem / whoever.

Of course, people have an absolute right to write whatever they want, it's just that I can't quite get my head around anyone loving a series of books enough to write fanfic about them, and yet hating the main heroine / halfs the characters with such a passion. That just seems weird to me!

Author:  MJKB [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I think it's a love hate relationship not unlike what you sometimes get in families. Also, Joey does deteriorate as she gets older and as she is the central character in the series there is an understandable degree of disappointment about the direction in which EBD takes her. In the early books,the adult characters like Madge, Mademoiselle, the Tyroleans etc are sympathetic and believable and compare most favourably with the later books.
Having said all that, I still miss Joey when she is missing from a book, and there are occasions in the Wesh and Swiss eras where you get a flash of the old Joay.

Author:  Margaret [ Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Joey-bashing

I am definitely irritated by the way *everyone* seems to love Joey. Not at all realistic, I felt, so wrote myself a short story about a new girl who didn't like her much, and Joey ended up taking it really well! presumably I too have fallen under her famous spell!!!

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