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The School at the Chalet (The Chalet School #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,141 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
When Madge Bettany sets up a school in the Austrian Tyrol, her sister Joey is among the first pupils. From small beginnings, it grows rapidly, enjoying all sorts of exciting adventures and mishaps.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by HarperCollins (UK) (first published 1925)
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Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Well, I've reread about ten of these today (not going to rate them all, thinking of your poor feeds), and I've only got about twenty in the series, which must contain over fifty books...

I tend to divide the copies I've got into two sets. The first set is the beginning of the school, which is a boarding school that Madge Bettany, all of twenty-four years old, starts in the Austrian Tyrol, while her sister Joey becomes one of the first students. It's entertaining, particularly the obsession with
Lisa Vegan
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: CLM and Abigail A.
This is a well written, well paced, and engaging story, the first of many in a long series about a boarding school in the Austrian Tyrol. I’m really glad that I got an unabridged copy, a facsimile reproduction of the original edition.

I was interested in the characters and one of my favorite things about them and the story was how the girls of all nationalities had read English boarding school stories and had ideas about how their new school should comply. As a fan of orphan and quasi-orphan boo
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved these when I was growing up and they are still as magical as ever.
Susan in Perthshire
I read the entire Chalet school series when I was young. I read my first one when I was about 10 and continued till I was about 15. They described a time and a way of life that was completely alien to me and yet, just like Enid Blyton's depictions of a middle class upbringing in series like The Famous Five etc, - I loved these books. They were well plotted and in my eyes, populated with interesting, believable characters. They were a true escape and food for my imagination. Ms Brent-Dyer never p ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Published in 1925, this is very much in the tradition of Angela Brazil who wrote all those 20s school stories for girls, full of elongated line drawings, sport, doing your bit and bucking up. However, it's set in the Tyrol instead of the British Isles, as Joey and Madge (Jo and Meg?) have no money and their brother is off to serve in India. They plump for setting up a school in the Tyrol because it's cheaper than Britain and of course Jo is "delicate" and the mountain climate will do her good.

Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ^ by: My mother
“… condemmed to sitting and sewing name-tapes onto new stockings and gloves …” (p.12) brought back memories galore; though my stitching was onto articles such as gym shirts and hockey socks. I sometimes wonder if the harmless fun of certain schoolgirl pranks such as (p.148) vaselining the blackboards (or whatever is the best equivalent is on a whiteboard) ought to be positively encouraged nowadays, as a way of teaching what limits can be tested but must never be breached.

I’m horrified to read on
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the famous Chalet School series. This is a fun book like Enid Blyton's St. Clares and Mallory Towers. Only things are much more nascent as school is being founded. So focus is on the young headmistress Madge and her attempts to start the school. Individual girls and their temperament, the inter personal dynamics is not given so much importance. Other than Jo, Madge's sister, only 2-3 of them even come across as characters with distinct personalities. In some ways intens ...more
Tara Calaby
(2.5 stars)

From the opening pages of this novel, there's no escaping that it was written in the 1920s. The slang is an instant giveaway, and the ongoing casual racism throughout the book ensures that you never forget that this is children's fiction written for a now-distant generation of children. The page about the Romany people is particularly gasp-worthy. Enid Blyton's gypsies have nothing on Brent-Dyer's "religious" superstition!

The School at the Chalet suffers from first book in a series sy
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The first, and possibly the best, in the Chalet School series by the prolific Elinor Brent-Dyer. In this book, in order to make a living for herself and her delicate little sister Jo, Madge Bettanyt establishes a new school in the heart of the Austrian Tyrol. Despite their tenuous financial status, she is able to acquire a Tyrolean chalet capacious enough to house a small school without much difficulty. Despite this unlikely setup, the descriptions of the formation of the new school are detailed ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored these books when I was a little girl, and I used to wish I could attend the Chalet School. It sounded like a dream, a boarding school for girls, studying in a foreign country, and plenty of outdoor fun.

I decided to re-read my collection this year, and even though I'm much older now, I still enjoy them. In this first book, Madge Bettany decides to open a boarding school for girls in Austria. Her younger sister, Joey, is her first pupil, and the Chalet School soon grows rapidly.

This book
Roseanne Wright
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think I must have read every one of these stories when I was young. I just loved the fact that it was set in a foreign country and the pupils had to speak different languages depending on the day of the week. I wanted so badly to be a pupil there!
Kate Merlin
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved these books as a child and wish I could find them again.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The School at the Chalet is a very nice children's modern classic. The amazing adventures of the children captured me, the christian theme was intriguing, and most of there situations were hilarious. A great kids book if you ask me. This is an amazing idea for a story and the beautiful descriptions of the vivid countryside were THE best. I absolutely loved it. I do wish there were more illustrations, coloured, but it is a great book. Loved it!❤ ...more
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Top notch yarn. Ripping!

I read several of the Chalet books when I was young, not really in order, and very much dependent upon - largely - Coppice Avenue library and more broadly the wider Trafford library system. I bought several when I was working during the student vacation - this 1987 edition cost £1.95. That's the equivalent of over £5 now, a price I try to avoid paying for any book, let alone a flimsy child's paperback - and I try to get as many as poss on Amazon's 99p deal!

It really does
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I was about 11, my Mum came home with about 30 of these books that she’d picked up from a sale, and living in the country and with not much to do I ploughed my way through the lot.
I was a `70s child, so I thought them old-fashioned, overly religious and much too goody, goody (Just William was my favourite, more anarchic and funny.) Even I could see Jo casually popping out all those children pretty unlikely. I didn’t think of them as politically incorrect – political correctness didn’t exist
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book for which, like many other readers, I have huge affection. The astonishing thing is not that so many people have read this, and then got sucked in to an entire Chalet world. No, the astonishing thing is that anybody could read this and go, well, that was OK, but I don't think I'm that fussed about reading any more.

Because EBD was really on top form when she wrote this. She seems to have settled down a bit, so instead of trying to cram in every idea she's ever had, in case she never gets a
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book of Eleanor M. Brent Dyer's quite long series--some nearly 60 books--about the fictional Chalet School, begun by Madge Bettany in the Austrian Tirol about 1925 as British boarding school chiefly because it's too expensive for her to live with her much younger and somewhat frail sister Jo in England. The air of the Austrian mountains was then thought to have healthful qualities, and the school starts up with about 15 girls, some few from England, the others from local famili ...more
Tracey Morait
Sep 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Years ago (I won't say how many!) I went on holiday to the Austrian Tirol with my parents and stayed in a resort called Pertisau situated by the largest lake in the region, Achensee. At that time, I was still reading the Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer and I loved them. I guessed that her fictional location of Tiern See was based on Achensee, but wasn't sure; fast-forward to the easy-research-at- your-fingertips world of the internet and I found I'd guessed correctly. In August this y ...more
Emma Rose Ribbons
Good and entertaining - though I'd prefer if more of the classes and school itself were shown (as opposed to whatever happens in the area around the school), I really enjoyed this, especially the fact that Brent-Dyer focuses as much on the staff as she does the students. The premise is quite original since we see the founding of the school and the number of girls is quite small in this first book. That being said, all the characters seem exactly the same to me and the author's use of racial ster ...more
Katherine Bruce
Reading this after the first few La Rochelle titles, it is possible to see EBD's growing prowess as a writer. Her descriptions of the new arrival into Paris and also Innsbruck are very different from the much more vague descriptions of Guernsey (at least partly due to the fact that she is probably describing her own visits) but even once the school begins it is a very different dynamic. The balance of the Englishness of the school with the foreignness of the pupils and the location is deftly han ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is very much a product of the time it was written (c1924 - published 1925) - it's interesting in the glimpse of how things were and the opinions of the time. Reading other reviews it's interesting to see some of the negative comments (the gypsies, there are both negative and positive views given on them (a character is even corrected re: they steal children), more so then in many modern tales/opinions - but it is by no means perfect.) I am equally sad to hear that they edited the serie ...more
May 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: if you want to reminisce about girlhood (international boarding school not required)
It is about a new boarding school in a remote (at the time) area of Austria. A British woman and her sister need a means to live off of (without going to India with their brother) and had fond memories from traveling to this area. The younger sister is still of school age, so they decide to start a school for girls in the area. Students quickly trickle in from everywhere. Then the rest of the story is simply about the various girls interactions with each other. Little adventures, if you will. I ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Just re-read this book after many, many years. Still a good read! Rather dated in content, of course - attitudes to girls' capabilities, for instance - although they were probably quite liberated at the time. Madge is clearly a well educated, well travelled, highly motivated and independent woman despite her brother's concern for her managing without a man. Although there is some condescension towards the 'peasants,' everyone behaves politely or is brought to see the error of their ways. Obvious ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
really, I just began it, and found it much too soppy and square for me to want to read more. if I read many more school stories, maybe I'll be curious to compare, and try again.

at this time, I had just read Antonia Forest for the first time. I just can't get a second Marlows book at the moment, so I felt i might as well try this and compare.

some reviews prepared me for feeling this way. I certainly didn't expect it to be as sharp as Forest. but some find that very out of date, too, and I only h
Feb 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
The first book in the Chalet School series (which comprises an incredible 60 volumes). I decided to re-read the series this year - or what books I can get hold of, as many of them are out of print - and do it in order.

In School at the Chalet we meet English sisters Madge (in her early twenties) and Joey Bettany (a twelve year old). Madge has decided to start a boarding school in Austria, in a small chalet in the mountains, with Joey as her first pupil. The school develops in leaps and bounds in
2.5 stars

A little too stilted for me to really enjoy, though some aspects were not bad. However, I was thoroughly sick by the end, of everything being either top-hole or topping.
It may be that if I had read these as a child, I would have had residual warm feelings for these stories in the same way I do for Enid Blyton's Malory Towers books, which I still love. In Enid Blyton's school stories though, the girls are a little less obedient and more inclined to joking about. Elinor's creations here,
Sarah Adamson
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This is the first book in the famous Chalet School series featuring Joey and Madge Bettany and lots of friends.
Yes the series is now seen as dated and there are some inappropriate stories with girls running off to climb mountains and so on but I will always love this series. It's a fun and entertaining read and provides some really thought provoking morals and lessons.
This is the first book which explores Joey and Madge Bettany moving to Austria to set up a new school to be run along English s
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: CS & boarding school story fans
One of the cornerstones of my childhood. I've probably reread this at least ten times, to the point that when I recently read the unabridged version (yes, several of the paperbacks that aren't GGBP are abridged, wtf is that right!), I knew exactly which parts/lines were new. Scary. Not necessarily one of the BEST books of the series, but because it kicked off the longest boarding school series ever in such a fantastic way (oh, to live at the Tiernsee!), it's worthy of a 5-star rating.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book which is about a quintessentially British boarding school in Austria. It is full of lively characters and captures childhood in the beginning of the 20th century when children would always be outside and playing pranks on eachother. If you are fan of Enid Blyton you will enjoy this. The main difference between this and Blyton apart from the setting is that it isn't quite so middle class and includes people from all over the world.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this many times, both in hardback and paperback. Having recently acquired a hardback version for myself, I re-read it for the first time in over ten years, and very much enjoyed it. It's the first in a series of over 60 books, and introduces us to Madge, who starts a school for girls in Austria, and her young sister Joey. Seems quite dated now, yet the personalities of the people are realistic and the story quite exciting in places.
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Elinor M. Brent-Dyer was born as Gladys Eleanor May Dyer on 6th April 1894, in South Shields in the industrial northeast of England, and grew up in a terraced house which had no garden or inside toilet. She was the only daughter of Eleanor Watson Rutherford and Charles Morris Brent Dyer. Her father, who had been married before, left home when she was three years old. In 1912, her brother Henzell d ...more
More about Elinor M. Brent-Dyer...

Other Books in the Series

The Chalet School (1 - 10 of 58 books)
  • Jo of the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #2)
  • The Princess of the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #3)
  • The Head Girl of the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #4)
  • Rivals of the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #5)
  • Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #6)
  • The Chalet School and Jo (The Chalet School, #7)
  • The Chalet Girls in Camp (The Chalet School, #8)
  • Exploits of the Chalet Girls (The Chalet School, #9)
  • The Chalet School and the Lintons (The Chalet School, #10)
  • The New House at the Chalet School (The Chalet School, #12)