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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2017, 16:57 
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I think she picked the wrong story for it, TBH. The whole bleak What Katy Did-esque moral thing might have worked better if it had been Thekla or Betty or Margot who'd ended up confined to bed or a chair for the best part of two years, rather than Eustacia who was, to use EBD's own expression, more sinned against than sinning.

I don't want to anticipate a discussion that's due in a few weeks, but the Balbini twins being too late to see their mother before she died is probably the only other storyline that's in the same league of bleakness, but the characters vanish afterwards, apart from one brief reappearance.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2017, 15:01 
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The story is quite old fashioned and What-Katy-Did-y.

If you compare Eustacia to Exploits you can see that EBD wants us to sympathise a bit with Eustacia - we get much more insight into the inner workings of her mind and moments where she realises her bahaviour is awful, as opposed to Thekla who is presented almost entirely from the 'outside', if that makes sense. Then her 'punishment/reform' seems very long because EBD devotes a book a term to Jo's head girlship and an extra one for the camp. Up until then the Tyrol books have been much more jumpy. But Eustacia's long recovery just gives Madge more time to shine which I suspect EBD was quite happy about. And more opportunities to ram her message home as well :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2018, 06:03 
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I'm reading this for the first time, in an effort to catch up with everyone else! I've just finished Rivals and am mulling thoughts about Grizel there, but would like to put on record that so far - Eustacia has just got as far as staying at her aunt's house, after the death of her father - I am wildly on Eustacia's side, though I can see very well that she's meant to be badly out of step with what a nicely brought-up girl should be.
Her fifteen year-old cousin has just indulged in some vindictive plait-pulling, and his father rebukes Eustacia for "sneaking" about it! Grow up, Uncle!
Okay, back to the book!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 25 Apr 2018, 06:06 
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Back again, two minutes later, to say that another cousin has said, "Oh, Mums, can't you send her to a school where they don't have holidays?" and her aunt secretly agrees! Dotheboys Hall rides again!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 26 Apr 2018, 23:08 
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In all fairness, Eustacia has been thoroughly disruptive, has made no kind of effort to fit into the household and isn't interested in doing so, ignoring information she is given.

It seems to me that the Trevannion boys are also entitled not to have their lives completely disrupted. They've been given no choice about the matter and i can see why a child might voice those feelings

As for Eustacia's Aunt, well, why should she enjoy Eustacia's behaviour? She could be as understanding as anything and still feel she and her family would have been better off not being in the position they are in. We do see the adults trying to cope and trying to persuade the children to give Eustacia some leeway. It isn't as if their first thought was "pack her off to school and get her out of the way". That only comes after Eustacia has been with them for some time and things are getting desperate. Even then, the problems that Eustacia might encounter at school are considered. One of the reasons for selecting a school with a large number of pupils from other countries is that they might be more forgiving of Eustacia's breaches of the social code than English schoolgirls (who would have expected Euctacia to conform) would have been.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Apr 2018, 07:58 
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They chose it on Mrs Cochrane's recommendation. I strongly dislike the conversation in the shop, in which Mrs C and Mrs T both seem delighted at the prospect of getting rid of the girls for a whole year at a time, but they didn't just pick it from nowhere. And the Trevanions must have known Madge and Mlle quite well: it's mentioned later on that Ned was Joey's partner at children's dancing lessons, or something like that.

It's interesting that boarding school for girls doesn't seem to be thing in Taverton. The girls of the Bettany/Cochrane/Trevanion social class all go to Taverton High, unless there's a particular reason, e.g. Rosalie's dad getting a job abroad, for them to be sent to boarding school.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Apr 2018, 11:32 
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Quote:
That only comes after Eustacia has been with them for some time


Not so very long a time! The story opens in November, three weeks after her father's death, and something like four months since her mother's. Mrs Trevanion "well knew" that Eustacia "would have anything but an easy time of it" with her five boys, but "she wanted to get back to her home and family", so off they go, and Eustacia comes in for the apple-pie bed and the lecture on "sneaking" and the hair-pulling and all rest of it. Her aunt and uncle have evidently already decided that she "would not be staying there after Christmas" - ie they decide to pack her off within a few weeks of her father's death - and so they do, by the third Friday in January.

Yes, it's a horrible conversation with Mrs Cochrane. I think Mrs Trevanion is clearly meant to be the more likeable of the two, but the way the author has selected nasty Mrs Cochrane as the friend whose recommendation Mrs Trevanion trusts suggests that she's not cut out of altogether different cloth.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 27 Apr 2018, 13:17 
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Sorry to repeat myself - the blame for this lies fair and square with Eustacia's parents and the loveless and anti-social way she's been brought up. I don't think that anything short of a complete paradigm-shift would have helped her, and those are unfortunately often brought about by shock.

I also think that there's a huge difference in reacting to this as a young reader in the first half of the twentieth century (the maximum audience EMBD and her publishers could have realistically envisaged), and as an adult in the early twenty-first. And as one of those adults my heart is touched by Eustacia and I grieve for her, but I'm under no illusions that I would have been able to cope any better than Mrs Trevanion, especially if I had my own children to cope with too, as Victoria implied.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Apr 2018, 00:36 
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One of my first CS books, and one that I struggle with today. I dislike the "blaming the victim" approach where Eustacia, knowing nothing of the schoolgirl code, is still expected to follow it, and I can't help feeling that many of the later books (Jack and Joey take her in) serve as penance for the bad treatment she received in this book.

As a child, and a reader, my library was divided into "children's books" to the right and "adult" books, to the left. Having read Eustacia, I felt very bold tiptoeing to the left hand side to check out the "forbidden" books.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Apr 2018, 01:31 
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Eustacia, as far as we know, receives little sympathy or kind, thoughtful behaviour from her cousins, who decided they weren't going to like her before they even met her(?). They seem to be unpleasant boys, playing tricks on her and pulling her hair, yet EBD seems to be more on their 'side' than Eustacia's. She also gets the mixed message about what 's right and wrong. The boy who pulled her hair did get punished, but then Eustacia gets told off too, for telling tales! Can't win.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Apr 2018, 07:46 
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Sneaking, and the difference between sneaking and reporting, is a popular theme in school stories. It comes up in the CS several times, especially in the early years. Eustacia sneaks on Margia for drawing in her hymn book, and is told by Miss Wilson that she'd get a good thrashing if she were a boy. Joyce refuses to sneak on Thekla, even though Thekla is clearly in the wrong and Joyce herself is being unfairly punished - but Cornelia steps in and reports Thekla. Gisela reports Juliet to Madge. There's also the idea, still going when I was at school in the '80s and '90s, that you have to put up with a certain amount of bullying, and that's what happens with Eustacia and Ned, even though it's not at school.

Eustacia and Thekla don't understand the rules, because they haven't been brought up with them. It's very hard to be plunged into a situation where there are unwritten rules and everybody gets them except you. It's not the fault of the other people that you don't get their rules, but it's not your fault either.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 28 Apr 2018, 10:47 
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I often wonder what Eustacia's behaviour had been in her own home. Where did she learn to be so disdainful? The Trevanions' maid threatens to leave because of her so how did she treat her parents' maid (s)? She must have been taught rudimentary manners, possibly attended church as that is never an issue in Tyrol and spent time with her parents during lessons and meals. Reading the Classics must have given her some ideas how people behave to one another. I think EBD created a monster with no adoring Nanny or Cookie to provide some feeling in the girl.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 29 Apr 2018, 12:03 
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She must have been popular with one member of staff. Doesn't 'Bessie' appear with her when she moves into Freudesheim? I feel this is the maid in the Trevanion house, but I could be wrong!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 29 Apr 2018, 12:46 
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Supersal wrote:
She must have been popular with one member of staff. Doesn't 'Bessie' appear with her when she moves into Freudesheim? I feel this is the maid in the Trevanion house, but I could be wrong!


None of the maids are named in the Trevanian house, and we aren't told where Bessie came from in her mentions:

Quote:
Her old Bessie would come with her and do for her, and we wouldn't be on top of each other all the time.


Quote:
"Four and the bathroom. I thought the bigger one could be her bedroom and Bessie could have the one next door. Then the two small ones at the back would give her a kitchen and a spare room and the two rooms downstairs could be study and dining-room."


Quote:
“Over in Aunt Stacie’s wing,” Margot replied. “She told Mum to park them there for the occasion and Bessie, her old maid, is keeping an eye on them. Bessie adores those three.”


That doesn't mean she isn't, just that we aren't told definitely that she IS.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 29 Apr 2018, 21:15 
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I think the Trevanions had a maid called Julia, or maybe it was Julie. I assumed Bessie had been Eustacia's maid/housekeeper in Oxford. It's not clear if "old" is supposed to mean old as in not young or old as in having been with her a long time. It sounds as if it means "not young" - in which case it's not particularly polite of Joey, and even less so of Margot, to refer to her as such :roll: .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 29 Apr 2018, 21:26 
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I think it's probably both. On the other hand, I feel this is another instance of EMBD's liking for inventing a back story, even at a very late date - i e we've never heard of Bessie before...


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 29 Apr 2018, 21:44 
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When Bessie looks after the three young Maynards, Len still feels the need to go over to check that Bessie is coping. Caring or interfering? I guess it could be interpreted either way.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Apr 2018, 10:55 
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Audrey25 wrote:
When Bessie looks after the three young Maynards, Len still feels the need to go over to check that Bessie is coping. Caring or interfering? I guess it could be interpreted either way.
Yes - and I think it's fairly typical of attitudes to domestic staff as portrayed in fiction in the first half of the twentieth century (never having had, or been, domestic staff myself, I can't say about real life). At the end of the day, the staff, unless they were something extremely senior like cook, butler or housekeeper, were not expected to have the ultimate responsibility - that lay with the employer (or as here, with a member of the family). And whatever her current position in Stacie's household, Bessie may have been an extremely experienced former nanny, or she may have been someone with little or no experience of looking after children - we simply don't know.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 May 2018, 09:49 
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Quote:
I assumed Bessie had been Eustacia's maid/housekeeper in Oxford. It's not clear if "old" is supposed to mean old as in not young or old as in having been with her a long time.


I don't know anything about Bessie, or about Stacey post-Eustacia, yet, but it occurs to me that if she was a long-term maid (even former nurserymaid?) in the Benson household in Oxford it throws a different light on Eustacia's passionate desire to stay there on the stated grounds that she could (in her own words) "manage the house and the servants quite well".
Come to that, was Bessie thrown out of a job when the house was closed up?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 May 2018, 12:57 
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Housemate wrote:
Quote:
I assumed Bessie had been Eustacia's maid/housekeeper in Oxford. It's not clear if "old" is supposed to mean old as in not young or old as in having been with her a long time.


I don't know anything about Bessie, or about Stacey post-Eustacia, yet, but it occurs to me that if she was a long-term maid (even former nurserymaid?) in the Benson household in Oxford it throws a different light on Eustacia's passionate desire to stay there on the stated grounds that she could (in her own words) "manage the house and the servants quite well".
Come to that, was Bessie thrown out of a job when the house was closed up?
I think we simply don't know, and have never heard of Bessie until Jo is talking about Stacie moving to Freudesheim and Bessie coming with her. Nor can I think of any mention of Stacie having ever had a nanny or nursemaid, and it sounds as if her mother mainly looked after her and tried out some non-traditional ideas on up-bringing: I think the expression when Dr/ Mrs Benson died was "She [Eustacia] wept decorously for the woman who had had so much to do with her training". My own feelling is that if she'd had a nanny or nursemaid and, especially if her parents hadn't had their enthusiasm for new ideas on bringing up children, she wouldn't have had so many problems. It (the upbringing) all sounds very bleak and loveless for a proud and sensitive child.

Edited for clarity


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