This week's discussion is on Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School, published in 1930 and covering the Easter term immediately following Rivals. Fourteen-year-old Eustacia Benson, the product of parents with decided ideas on bringing up children, is left orphaned, and after a brief and uncomfortable stay at her aunt's house where her grown-up airs, tale-telling and condescension to the servants do not endear her to anyone, she is sent to the Chalet School on the advice of Grizel Cochrane's stepmother. Eustacia has a bad term at the Chalet, culminating in her running away and causing long-term damage to her back in the process. Notable events:
Jo is informed by Madge that she will be Head Girl next term and will be staying on for an extra year before going to Belsornia to be lady-in-waiting to Elisaveta.
Juliet arrives back in Austria for a few weeks' holiday, worn out from a bout of scarlet fever.
The wedding of Bernhilda Mensch to Kurt von Eschenau, and the passing of die Grossmutter that same evening.
Eustacia arrives at the school and makes a bad start with her priggish manner and tale-bearing, which do not endear her at all to the Middles, who send her to Coventry for a week before relenting to give her another chance.
The prefects catch her out-of-bounds in the library reading a forbidden book from the staff shelves, having taken the key from Jo's desk. She is punished by being forbidden to use the library at all until half-term, and vows revenge on the prefects.
She next earns the wrath of Matron, who discovers that she has been casting off her plumeau at nights. She is still seething after this encounter when Kitty Burnett accidentally bangs into her while they are getting ready for a walk, and boxes her ears.
While on the walk, the girls discover that Gredel, one of the local children, is ill with what appears to be TB, and they vow to ask Jem to take her to the San for treatment. Eustacia declares that treating her would be a waste of time as she would likely redevelop the disease when she returns home, prompting the rest of the girls to denounce her soundly.
She is put into isolation as punishment for hitting Kitty, but is allowed out to join the singing lesson with Plato, and she discovers that she has a previously undiscovered love for music. She resolves to write home as soon as possible and ask her aunt for music lessons.
The prefects call a school council to discuss how best to deal with Eustacia, and Frieda suggests that they ask her to contribute an article on Oxford to the school magazine to try and engage with her.
Jo approaches Eustacia with the suggestion, but is rebuffed, and later that day Eustacia takes the key of the science lab from the staffroom and goes there to read. She knocks over a jar of distilled water which is initially mistaken for hydrochloric acid, and is rebuked by Miss Wilson and Miss Annersley.
A snow fight is held between the CS and St Scholastika's, and Eustacia begins to relent in her attitude a little.
A feud breaks out between the Fifth, led by Margia, and the Fourth, led by Evadne and Eustacia, over the latter's lost fountain pen which was discovered by Margia and confiscated by Miss Stewart. The feud only ends when Madge arrives at the Chalet for a visit and subtly encourages the girls to make up.
Half-term arrives, and the English and American girls left at school, including Jo, the Robin and Eustacia, go to Fulmes to see the Stubai glacier, accompanied by Miss Wilson and Miss Stewart.
Jo and Eustacia argue repeatedly on the trip, culminating in an incident on the glacier when Eustacia, jerking away from a helping hand from Jo, causes Miss Wilson to fall and break a bone in her foot. The group only just make it to the safety of a hut before a blizzard comes on which strands them there for the night.
The party finally reaches Fulpmes again the following evening, and the next morning the Robin is tired out and refuses her food, causing a general panic.
Back at the Chalet, Eustacia is blamed by all and sundry for the delay on the glacier, and ostracised once more.
The girls vow to dig in at the Sale.
Margia and Evadne have a row, resulting in the Fourth form purging the Fifths' inkwells of ink. The Fifth retaliate by removing buttons from the blazers of some of the Fourths, and rubbing the others on the cat's bed to cover them in hairs.
Eustacia, after another argument with Jo, makes up her mind to run away back to England.
Jo develops toothache, and she and a party of others visit the dentist. When they arrive back, they find that Eustacia has disappeared. Jo finds a note in the girl's cubicle, announcing her intention to return to England and write to the newspapers in order to ruin the school. She takes the note to the staff, and they deduce that she has made for the Tiern Pass. Miss WIlson advises Jo that she has a great influence over the school, and that deep down Eustacia had longed to be her friend, not enemy.
Eustacia follows the swollen river towards the Pass, but goes too far and narrowly escapes being swept away when a natural dam further up the mountain breaks and sends water sweeping down. She strains a muscle in her back as she dashes for the safety of a niche, and can only lie there semi-conscious until she is found by a search party led by Gottfried Mensch.
Two weeks later up at the Sonnalpe, when she is well enough to listen, Eustacia is told that she will be convalescent until at least September. She vows to be brave and tries to turn over a new leaf, allowing her hair to be cut and for her name to be shortened to Stacie.
The book ends with her making up with Jo, and the news that Gisela, who was 'too busy' to attend Bernhilda's wedding, has had a baby daughter, Natalie.
So what do you think of Eustacia? Was her unhappiness her own fault, or could the school have done more to help her adjust? What did you think of the half-term trip to the glacier and the events that occurred there? Do you think Miss Wilson was right to tell Jo she had so much influence over the other girls?
'Sometimes... I wish someone would come along and just give me a big, long hug.' - Kel'Thuzad