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 Post subject: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 07 Nov 2010, 17:16 
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The Chalet School Triplets was published in 1963, the same year as Trouble at Skelton Hall and Chalet School Reunion. It’s the 49th book in the series and the first paperback edition was published by Armada in 1986.

This book doesn’t feature a problem new girl but concentrates on the triplets, beginning with Margot’s invitation to spend the summer in Australia with Emerence and ending with the three girls rescuing Cecil from a kidnapper. In between, Margot loses her temper with Betty, Con steps into the foreground when she takes over a major part in the St Mildred’s panto at very short notice and Len is accused of shoplifting. At the end of the book we find out that Doris Trelawney is seriously ill and the triplets are left in charge of their younger siblings while Joey flies to England to help Mary Lou.

A full synopsis is available here on the New Chalet Club site.

A few questions to start off based around the theme of growing up:

This book focuses on the triplets for the first time since Theodora, set 18 months previously. How have the triplets changed during this time in their relationships with each other and with other people? Are they growing up? Is EBD showing or telling us about how they’ve developed? Is she consistent?

How mature is Margot in the way she deals with her own temper? How well do the staff and her family help her to deal with it? Is it fair that Betty takes half the blame for the incident?

Joey has always prided herself on “keeping her children young”. Do we see her attitude to the triplets change in this book?

Jack Lambert and her friends find themselves in trouble when they believe that Len has failed to keep a promise to them. Do you see any signs that this group of friends are starting to grow up? Do you have any sympathy for them on this occasion? Do you agree with Hilda’s treatment of Len when the younger girls are missing?

Were you surprised by the triplets’ rescue mission for Cecil? Do you think it was in character?

Please discuss these or any other issues relating to the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 12:52 
In terms of growing up, I'm always interested in how marrying young is seen in this book. At the very start, Ros Lilley reminds Con and Len that Emerence Hope, who's just written to Margot for the first time in a while, is fully three years older than they are and, at 19, is now 'grown up', and Con leaps to the conclusion she might be writing to announce her engagement.

Quote:
“ She's old enough,” Rosamund said reflectively. “ And then she had a year of touring America and that would make her older, I expect. Besides, according to my sisters, girls are getting engaged and marrying years younger than they used to.


Then Ros says Joan Baker has written to her to say she's 'more or less engaged' to a boy she met at her commercial college, and Con seems absolutely shocked, apparently because Joan only left school the term before last (despite being now almost nineteen):

Quote:
“Well, I think it's horrid!” Con said with decision. “ I should hate it myself. I'd loathe being married and having to run a house before I was twenty.”
“ Your own mother was only twenty-one when you three were born, wasn't she?” Rosamund asked as she opened the door. “ That would mean she was married at twenty at the latest and it isn't so very much older than Joan is now.”
“ That was different,” Con replied. “ Mamma had been having the ghastliest adventures, escaping from Hitler, and Papa brought her through them. Besides, they'd known each other for years before that -


I always think this distiction is very interesting. For one thing, it's unusual for a CS girl to explicitly describe someone's (possible) engagement as 'horrid'. Even schoolgirl Joey, who was reluctant to see her friends grow up, didn't go so far. Then Ros makes the reasonable point that Con's beloved Mamma married at the same age (despite her own argument that girls are getting engaged and married younger than in the past), but Con won't admit it as the same thing at all. She always sounds to me like she's trying to remove her mother's early marriage from the same domain as 'sophisticated', working-class Joan's, or from the implication that Joey married out of the same rationale as Joan's (implicitly sexual attraction?) The fact that her father supported Joey through the escape from Tyrol and that they'd known each other for years already seems to make it OK in a way that Joan's engagement isn't...?

Also interesting the way Con think it's 'horrid' not so much because of the closing off of choice in your teens, but because of having to run a house! I suppose this is the classic 'young-minded' Maynard girl speaking (again, despite being the child of a very early marriage, and sister to a girl who will get engaged before she leaves school!)

And later, when the triplets are discussing Emerence's invitation to Margot to come to Australia, Margot isn't keen on re-encountering Sybil because she'll be 'bossy and prefecty'. Whereupon Len says that, no, Sybil will be out to enjoy herself:

Quote:
And don't forget that she's grown-up now. We haven't seen her for ages. I rather think you'll find she's changed a lot.”
Her sisters looked at her. Con was first to speak.
“ Gosh! I hadn't thought of that. Len, you don't mean she'll - well, be bothering with - love affairs?”
“ Nothing more likely,” Len replied. “ She's - what - twenty, isn't it?”
Margot grinned suddenly. “ Her folk will have something to say if she's getting engaged to an Australian!


Interesting that Len (the suposedly 'young-minded') thinks Sybil will have gone from being a responsible prefect-type to being a social butterfly now she's 'grown up' - and that Con says 'love-affairs' in the plural!


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 13:50 
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And later on, there's another conversation between the triplets about Verity and marriage:

Quote:
Len looked thoughtful. “ She is -- but somehow I don't think it's Mary-Lou she'll cling to - or not for long.”
The other two turned startled eyes on her.
“ But, my dear! What do you mean?” Con queried.
“Just what I say. Verity's a clinging vine all right, but it won't be Mary-Lou who has to be her oak-tree.”
“ Do you mean that Verity will marry early?” Margot asked slowly. “ But, Len, she's not much more than a kid.” “ She'll be twenty in May. Mamma wasn't much more when she married. And I rather think there's someone already. In her Christmas letter to me Mary-Lou talked of a girl she'd met at the Royal College. This girl - Enid Trevor, I think is her name - has a brother with a job in London. Verity and Enid are in the same hostel and they got pally. The brother - his name's Alan - took her to concerts and theatres and so on sometimes, and they included Verity. During the vac, the Trevors came over often to Carn Beg - they live near Monmouth - and Mary-Lou said they were all very good pals. By the way, she also said she liked them both herself. She didn't make a definite statement, but I could see that --- ”
“ That it won't be too long before Verity becomes Mrs Alan Trevor? That it?”
Len nodded. “ I'm almost positive. I only hope it works out. It would be the best thing all round for everyone. Verity would have someone decent to look and after her - Mary-Lou seems to think they're awfully nice people - and it would leave Mary-Lou herself free to do as she likes. And Auntie Doris would be glad, too, I should think, for both their sakes.”
Con grimaced. “ Rather her than me!” she said with vile grammar. “ If ever I do marry, it won't be for another ten years at least.”
“ Oh, I'd like to marry some time,” Len said. “ I'd love to have a home and babies of my own. But I agree that twenty's on the young side. I'd like to teach after I've collected a B.A. and get about the world a little. But I'd love a home and family of my own later on.”
Both girls looked at Margot, but she avoided their eyes, merely remarking, “ Look at the time! I must get those kids off for their walk. Either of you coming with us?”


Con is still against marrying young but it's seen as a good thing for Verity, from the point of view of being looked after and not sexual attraction.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 14:18 
JB wrote:

Con is still against marrying young but it's seen as a good thing for Verity, from the point of view of being looked after and not sexual attraction.


Interesting, especially when you apply the same rationale to Len's early engagement - Len isn't escaping from Nazis (which made her mother's early marriage OK) and, as a responsible young woman, with a loving, populous family, two 'perfect' parents, a place at Oxford and an offer of a CS job whenever she wants to return, she certainly doesn't need 'looking after' like Verity. Nor will her marriage free someone else from the burden of propping her up.

So - apart from the fact that she's known Reg for years (like Joey and Jack) and that EBD wanted to 'settle' her before the end of the series - why is Len's incredibly early engagement acceptable and not 'horrid', to use Con's word? In fact, am I right in thinking that Con appears to have changed her tune completely by Prefects, and gets all indulgent and rather elderly-sounding about 'Poor Reg!' knowing what he wants etc etc? EBD seems to be occupying a number of different, contradictory positions on growing up and early marriage simultaneously!


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 18:04 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
why is Len's incredibly early engagement acceptable and not 'horrid', to use Con's word

I think what you said earlier about marrying for 'sexual attraction" is probably on the nail. Len obviously isn't; she's just anxious not to play 'fast and loose' with Reg and, no doubt, will make a wonderful Catholic wife and mother!
I'm actually quite surprised that EBD allowed 'big Joan' to meet her intended in a place as sensible and steady as a commercial college; I would have expected her to arrange a meeting with some unsuitable youth at the local chipper. As a btw, Con mentions that people marry younger, I wonder how true that is.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 18:44 
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MJKB wrote:
As a btw, Con mentions that people marry younger, I wonder how true that is.


This is from the Office of National Statistics (haven't found earlier figures yet):

Quote:
The age at which people get married for the first time has continued to increase. In 1961 the average age at first marriage in England and Wales was 25.6 years for men and 23.1 years for women; by 2000 this had risen to 30.5 and 28.2 years, respectively. Generally, women marry men older than themselves and in 2000 the average age gap was just over two years. The age at first marriage has risen in all EU countries over the last 40 years and the average age at first marriage for the EU as a whole has risen by almost 4 years since 1961


Triplets was published in 1963 and an average age of 23.1 years wouldn't suggest that people were marrying younger at that time.

ETA: Have found another table which as the following as average ages for women at first marriage:

1950 - 24
1960 - 23
1970 -22
1980 - 23
1990 -25


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 21:18 
ChubbyMonkey wrote:


I just like that EBD seems to be able to hold different views on the point! It makes it far more interesting than some of her other views that come across strongly in the books.


I have to say I always find it funny that she's frantically trying not to let the implications of Joan's 'horrid' early engagement kind of leak backwards to Joey's, with the risk of Joey retrospectively looking like a Joan-style precocious young hussy! In some ways, too, I'm sorry that Con's entrenched opposition to early marriages gets forgotten about almost immediately - very un-CS, but it would have been terribly interesting if 'tactless' Con had been the one rushing to Len to cry 'But you can't say you'll marry Reg - you're still at school, and he's awful!'

Yes, it is interesting that no one else I can think of in the CS world, bar Joan, is ever 'more or less' engaged, or has a friend of theirs cast doubt on whether the engagement will actually come off. How different it would have been if the Quartette had been sitting about writing one another letters, saying 'Well, who knows whether Jack will ever actually propose? Apparently he's been seeing a lot of Grizel, and of course she's much better-looking than Joey, so maybe it'll all come to nothing.' :D

As regards how the triplets characters have developed since Theodora, Len and Con both come across as unbelievably cautious and pedestrian sixteen year olds in this one, while Margot swings from maturely planning her medical career and religious life to braining people in fits of rage!

In terms of growing up also - this is also the book in which two of the triplets could well have ended up with criminal records, Margot for GBH and Len for shoplifting! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2010, 21:26 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
Yes, it is interesting that no one else I can think of in the CS world, bar Joan, is ever 'more or less' engaged, or has a friend of theirs cast doubt on whether the engagement will actually come off.


Not that we see it, but from one point of view didn't that more or less happen to Juliet? I could imagine her university friends all commenting (among themselves, at least!) that she and what's-his-face were well on the way to being engaged, and when he broke her heart they would have been quite the subject of gossip. Like I said, we don't get to see it, but it's not hard to imagine that it was there!

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2010, 16:09 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
I have to say I always find it funny that she's frantically trying not to let the implications of Joan's 'horrid' early engagement kind of leak backwards to Joey's, with the risk of Joey retrospectively looking like a Joan-style precocious young hussy!


That's exactly it in my humble opinion!

My mother (born 1945) had a fit when I got married aged 24 in 2005. She thought I was far too young :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2010, 19:07 
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The age of marriage is interesting - there can be so many reasons for marrying young! My mother married (mid 50's) at 18, her sister was 19 (they had a double wedding). Another sister married even younger, not sure she was even 17. Their mother was an extremely difficult woman and they all married to get away from her - perhaps that was Len's reason!

Fortunately the marriages of the two older sister were successful and lasted until the deaths of my father and aunt. Younger sister not so lucky.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 00:53 
Joanne wrote:
The age of marriage is interesting - there can be so many reasons for marrying young! My mother married (mid 50's) at 18, her sister was 19 (they had a double wedding). Another sister married even younger, not sure she was even 17. Their mother was an extremely difficult woman and they all married to get away from her - perhaps that was Len's reason!


:D :D From the frying-pan of Joey into the fire (!) of Reg - poor Len!

What do people make of the whole 'Cecil is kidnapped' episode in Triplets? I can't help noticing that Anna is the authoritative grown-up and the triplets are her former charges the previous day:
Quote:
When Anna spoke like that, her nurslings obeyed with-out question, even the sixteen-year-old triplets. She stalked off with the twins, Cecil trotting after her. Len gave a chuckle and went back to the Speisesaal.
“ The worst of people who've bossed you since you were a howling babe is that they never seem to think you grow up,” she announced


but when Cecil is kidnapped, they appear to change places with Anna shrieking and wailing helplessly in the way EBD usually has servants do, and the triplets lecturing her 'sternly', as well as actually ticking Rosli off for not taking Bruno on the walk with her, despite the fact that her (perfectly valid) reason is that she can't manage a big dog and several babies at the same time! (Which sounds ot me like a lesson to the Maynards to train the darn dog properly! :D )

I quite like the darkness of the whole incident, but some bits of it are pretty funny, like the way all three of them leap to the conclusion that the woman who admired Cecil the other day is her kidnapper,
and then it all goes madly melodramatic, with Cecil turning out to look exactly like the dead child and have the same name, and Bruno being a bloodhound and Con climbing in windows and the 'loonie', as EBD describes her, threatening to tear their eyes out and strangle them, and a whole posse of doctors showing up to rescue everyone!

I get annoyed by the 'servants are helpless, hysterical and need guidance from their social superiors' stereotype, especially when it's applied to Anna, who is at least Joey's age and elsewhere is the soul of mature common sense, but in this episode has devoted the entire time since Cecil disappeared to searching every nook in the house, despite the fact that Cecil disappeared while out for a walk a long way off!


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 01:24 
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JB wrote:
ETA: Have found another table which as the following as average ages for women at first marriage:

1950 - 24
1960 - 23
1970 -22
1980 - 23
1990 -25


a) I bet that has absolutely climbed since 1990! and b) I can't believe that 1990 was twenty years ago!!


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 07:45 
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a) I bet that has absolutely climbed since 1990! and b) I can't believe that 1990 was twenty years ago!!



Oh my gosh, it is!! Twenty years! That's just made me feel old!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 10:05 
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Cosimo's Jackal wrote:
I get annoyed by the 'servants are helpless, hysterical and need guidance from their social superiors' stereotype, especially when it's applied to Anna, who is at least Joey's age and elsewhere is the soul of mature common sense, but in this episode has devoted the entire time since Cecil disappeared to searching every nook in the house, despite the fact that Cecil disappeared while out for a walk a long way off!

Yes, the problem EBD has with trying to give the Triplets centre stage in the grand rescue attempt is that it does make Anna look silly and incapable - when everything else she's written about the woman says entirely otherwise. It's rather like Josette's scalding incident in an earlier book which makes Rosa look entirely incapable. Mind you, stress and anxiety do sometimes contrive to make people lose all vestiges of common sense, but you wouldn't expect Anna to be one of those people.

It is quite a dark episode, as Cosimo's Jackal says, and although EBD clearly states (in dismissive terms) that the woman who attempts the kidnap is insane, she writes quite sympathetically about her tragedy.

Some time ago, I think it was FionaMc who wrote an interesting drabble positing that if Len's and Margot's big 'scenes' had been reversed - Len having had toothache and thrown the bookend at Betty, and Margot having been accused of shoplifting - it would actually have been a better way for EBD to show how they'd grown or changed. If it had been Margot accused of shop-lifting, the attempt to control her temper would have been far more of a challenge for her than it was for Len (who waits rather passively to be rescued by the staff), and would have been a good way to show how she was really trying to control her temper.

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 10:28 
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The whole Cecil kidnap incident just reeks of EBD trying to prove that all three triplets really are their mother's daughters - after all, dashing off to rescue her like that is exactly what Jo would have done at the same age (and, in fact, did, under similar circumstances - on more than one occasion)! None of the triplets ever really strikes me as having that much in common with Jo at the same age, but this incident has Jo written all over it - which is no doubt the point.

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 10:33 
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Mia wrote:
JB wrote:
ETA: Have found another table which as the following as average ages for women at first marriage:

1950 - 24
1960 - 23
1970 -22
1980 - 23
1990 -25


a) I bet that has absolutely climbed since 1990!


It was 28.2 in 2000 and 28.5 in 2005.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2010, 19:49 
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charli wrote:
Quote:
a) I bet that has absolutely climbed since 1990! and b) I can't believe that 1990 was twenty years ago!!



Oh my gosh, it is!! Twenty years! That's just made me feel old!!!


I wasn't even born then!

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 11 Nov 2010, 19:59 
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midge wrote:
I wasn't even born then!

Hate you! :evil: :evil: :banghead: :banghead:


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 11 Nov 2010, 20:32 
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 Post subject: Re: Growing Up: The Chalet School Triplets
PostPosted: 12 Nov 2010, 18:58 
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