On a more serious note, however, it's occurred to me that one of the things that interests me about both series is that they extend across a sufficiently long timespan to cover the whole of the Second World War. I'm not usually keen on "war novels", but these series weren't born of the war, or written as a response to the war; their respective authors were (as far as I can tell) just trying to draw something which was happening around them into the web of the fictional universe they had created, in much the same way as ordinary people must have tried to assimilate the knowledge of what was taking place into their own thoughts and lives, and to fight in their own small way with the weapons they have to hand -- for the Saint, it's a continuation of an ongoing battle against Evil, and it's very strongly presented in those terms; for the Chalet School, it's a quieter but no less determined fight for the values that the books promote all along. In that sense, to me the books constitute an interesting reaction. It's not why I read them, but it's a fascinating thread to follow.
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Of course, it's here (as everywhere!) that I start to feel the weight of my historical ignorance. I don't really know that much about how the war began -- the events that led up to war, the attempts (if any) to avert it, the point at which it became obvious that it was unavoidable. I guess what I really want to know is how much ordinary people knew about what was going on; how and when the war actually began to affect people in England, and what their reactions were.
I feel like I often ask for book recommendations and then end up never getting round to reading the books which are recommended, so please don't go to any trouble over this; but if anybody happens to know of a readable and not-excessively-long book which covers this topic, I'd be interested to hear about it.