Plateaux, Gateaux, Chateaux
Plateaux, Gateaux, Chateaux is the final volume in Mary Davies Parnell’s popular trilogy of childhood memoirs. Having overcome the hurdle of O levels, Mary is now in the sixth form, a period when her horizons are widened in many directions. A new interest in dramatics and a dramatic, clandestine night out while at Ranger camp help relieve the burden of A levels, and are among a number of episodes in which her education is extended beyond the academic. And after success at A level Mary once again becomes a small fish in a big pool as she reads French at Aberystwyth.
Student life in the fifties seems innocent now, and this distant time is charmingly explored, from Principal Goronwy Rees’s white socks to the kidnapping of Miss Fresher. Mary’s account ends with her impending return after her year abroad at a school for girls in Tours. Outside school she has visited chateaux, heard Piaf sing, received marriage proposals from two Gls and become a convinced Francophile. Her many experiences, good and bad, are described with characteristic wit and detail by Mary Davies Parnell, whose sharp ear and probing eye have produced another delightful visit to the past.