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The New Mistress at the Chalet School: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: The New Mistress at the Chalet School

Author: Elinor Brent-Dyer

Publisher: W & R Chambers

Format: Print

Genre: Vintage children’s book, school stories

Publication Date: 1957

Star Rating: 5/5

Most of the 'Chalet School' books begin with a new pupil arriving and having to settle in and learn the ways of the school.

The New Mistress at the Chalet School is different, however.

Kathie Ferrars has finished her degree and is qualified to teach. Far luckier than many of her fellow students, she lands a job teaching maths and geography at the Chalet School.

Since The New Mistress at the Chalet School is one of the later books in the series, Kathie will be travelling to Switzerland to start work.

Kathie is an orphan, raised by a doting aunt and uncle who wished to protect her from any of life’s disappointments after her parents died when she was still a baby.

The family are close, but Kathie must grow up fast if she’s to make a success of teaching.

Biddy o’Ryan acts as Kathie’s escort on the long train journey from London to Basle. This serves as a great introduction to the school for new readers, and a helpful catchup on old friends for fans.

The old girl turned mistress then drives them, and two other teachers, up to the school.

Kathie settles in well with the staff. She might not be an old girl, but quite a few of the mistresses didn’t study at the Chalet School either and the school is a very friendly place.

However, she struggles to interpret the informal behaviour of Mary-Lou Trelawney, who appears to treat her like an equal.

Kathie’s own school kept a stricter distance between mistresses and pupils, even in the sixth form. She therefore misinterprets Mary-Lou’s behaviour as cheek.

The girls in her form bear it well, though Kathie’s dignified behaviour makes them keep their distance. They are used to treating mistresses well and being given some element of friendship in return.

On the other hand, Margot Maynard is in this form and she’s never far from pranks.

Meanwhile, new pupil Yseult Pertwee is making her presence felt. A typical combination of parental spoiling and natural laziness makes Yseult a trial for Kathie and the other teachers.

Kathie devotes many extra hours to helping an ungrateful Yseult catch up on her studies.

No one knows how to handle her, and matters come to a head when Yseult becomes aggrieved over being given a small part in their form’s play.

This story is set in the autumn term, but pre-Christmas snow gives a strong wintry feel to much of the book. The girls are wild for skating and skiing as always, but Kathie must learn both for the first time.

A half-term trip to a glacier makes a natural outing for Kathie, as geography mistress, and some of the older girls. It also offers a typical Chalet School cliff hanger!

I loved The New Mistress at the Chalet School. I read it recently on a wintry evening tucked up at home. It has such a cosy feel, whether the girls are outside in the snow or inside the school making the best of being kept in.

Kathie was a lovely character, and it was great to see the new arrival in the form of a teacher rather than a pupil.

Thank you for reading my review.

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John C Adams Reviews The New Mistress at the Chalet School

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