Paula Morris is here today with a Teen Book Picks post courtesy of the Teen Book Scene blog tour for her new release, Dark Souls. Thank you for being here today, Paula! You can follow along with the tour here. Enjoy!
Lots of the books you would have spotted in my “library” during my teen years can be seen in my library now. This is because, some time in the late 90s, I turned into an obsessive book collector.
Of course, I blame ebay. Before ebay, and other sites trading in attic-clogging SFC (Stuff From Childhood), I had to trawl every second-hand bookshop I stumbled upon in the course of fits of travel. The books I read as a child and as a teen were largely divided into two categories: books from Britain and books from the US. Whenever I went – on vacation or business – to one place or the other, I used to look for books I once had, or wanted to have. Ebay made it all much easier. From my desk in Brooklyn, I could buy pristine paper-doll books from Chicago, girls’ annuals from Australia, and paperbacks from around the world. Book by book, I could reassemble the passions of my teens, and make sure that – at last! – my collections were complete.
Walk into my bedroom and scan the shelves that stretch along one wall. The first thing you’ll notice is the number of slim, battered paperbacks bearing one particular author’s name. You may not have heard of this author, because she’s been dead for many, many years. The first book in this series was published in 1925. By the time the author died, in 1969, she’s published almost SIXTY BOOKS in this series.
And I’ve got them all.
The author is Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, and she’s from a town called South Shields in England – where, coincidentally, my mother was born. She wrote the CHALET SCHOOL series. It’s about a boarding school for girls founded by a young English woman called Madge: she’s an orphan, with a 12-year-old sister, Jo, to look after. The school she sets up is in Austria, which means numerous exciting scenes of accidents on mountains and plunging through the ice on frozen lakes, not to mention lots of glamorous European girls talking about exotic things like “Kaffee und Kuchen” – coffee and cake to you and me.
As the series progressed, history intruded: for example, World War II forced a dramatic escape to Switzerland. (That particular book, THE CHALET SCHOOL IN EXILE, is perhaps my favorite.) The school had to move – to the Channel Islands, England, Wales, and eventually to Switzerland. I was interested to learn that while Brent-Dyer had visited Austria in the 1920s, she’d never been to Switzerland, the setting for almost 30 books.
And because the series went on for so many decades, we got to see Jo grow up, get into all sorts of trouble at school, get married, become a writer – and then HER daughters grow up and get into all sorts of trouble at school. You were never left wondering: what ever happened to …? When a series goes on for forty years, you find out what happens to EVERYONE.
Just writing about this now makes me want to re-read the series from start to finish. (After all, I do have the entire thing.) When I was a teen, and heavily under the CHALET SCHOOL influence, I really, really wanted to write my own school series, ideally set somewhere picturesque and European.
Maybe it’s time for the Chalet School to re-open its doors?
Thanks for this awesome book post! Ironically, (or maybe not so ironically) I have a two-book bind-up sitting on my bookshelf from this series. I've never read it, I may have to read it now though!
Thank you for being here today, Paula!
Welcome to York, England.
Mist lingers in the streets.
Narrow buildings cast long shadows.
This is the most haunted city in the world. . . .
Miranda Tennant arrives in York with a terrible, tragic secret. She is eager to lose herself amid the quaint cobblestones, hoping she won't run into the countless ghosts who supposedly roam the city. . . .
Then she meets Nick, an intense, dark-eyed boy who knows all of York's hidden places and histories. Miranda wonders if Nick is falling for her, but she is distracted by another boy -- one even more handsome and mysterious than Nick. He lives in the house across from Miranda and seems desperate to send her some sort of message. Could this boy be one of York's haunted souls?
Soon, Miranda realizes that something dangerous -- and deadly -- is being planned. And she may have to face the darkest part of herself in order to unravel the mystery -- and find redemption.
Synopsis taken from goodreads.