January 20th, 2011

school stories

Two Grey Ladies

Two more books from Greyladies by authors better known for their children’s books: The Encircled Heart by Josephine Elder and Pirouette by Noel Streatfeild writing as Susan Scarlett. The shared theme of the books is the potential conflict for a woman between a career and marriage but the two authors couldn’t write more differently about it.

In Pirouette, Judith has been pushed since childhood by a dreadful Mummy who wants to make up for her own lost chances through her daughter. At the time of the story, Judith is eighteen and has turned out to be rather a good dancer. Then Paul, the brother of a fellow student, falls in love with her. Mummy is terrified and Madame, who cares for nothing but the success of her company, is also displeased. Poor Judith then faces a dilemma: choose Paul or disappoint Mummy and perhaps make her ill? I say ‘poor’ Judith but she’s such a characterless little thing that one hardly cares which she chooses. It’s interesting, though, that Streatfeild sees this as an either/or situation when there are plenty of modern examples of dancers successfully combining career and marriage.
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