on 20 November 2012
I suppose I'm a little uneasy writing a review about something like this. Partly because I'm not what you might call a typical school story fan and partly because it seems a little presumptuous of me to be writing a review about a writer, no matter who it might be.
That said, it's an interesting peek behind the longest school story series ever written and the writer who left behind so many unanswered questions. A child of the 19th century, Elinor Brent-Dyer (or Eleanor, or May, or Len, or whatever) came from a class-ridden society, suffered through poverty and disease to become a successful writer, though a not so successful teacher and a seeming failure as a headmistress. Beside all that, she turned her hand to playwriting amongst other things. All of this, however, has been mostly forgotten by the general public, so this book is a timely reminder of all that Len did, including the story of the outcome of a holiday to a mountain lake resort that she took in the early 1920s that would result in this lengthy series. It also gives us a few hints at the story behind a number of people that influenced the series through the years and, in a few cases, even inspired the creation of some of the characters. This odd, rather boisterous chain-smoking woman with an over-loud laugh and a gap in her teeth (until she had them out) was often compared with her own creation, that being Jo Bettany, but it appears that there were a number of things about her that would compare with any number of other characters, from Margia Stevens and her music to the snobbery of Thekla von Stift!
The book, pulled together by Helen McClelland from historical record, friends and many other sources, details the life and work of this lesser known British authoress and though the series is less popular with the younger audience these days, it is a fascinating look for anyone that ever read any of the series (or any other of her books, for that matter).
on 9 October 2016
Excellent and informative biography of the author of the wonderful Chalet School stories. Quotes from the Chalet books cleverly woven in to help weave the story of Elinor's life and highlight where she may have found some of her inspiration. This can't have been an easy book for the late Ms McClelland to write, given Elinor's notorious secrecy, but she has managed to uncover a lot of factual evidence. The one shame is, she didn't live long enough to discover who Elinor's companion to the Tyrol was, the information having just come out recently, although she does speculate in this book. Highly recommend.