It's Monday, it's a new week, I have a new job (also new drabble inspiration after a long drought), and of course, it's time for a new book discussion thread!
This week is The Chalet School and Jo,
the seventh book in the canon series, first published in 1931. Picking up immediately where Eustacia
left off, this book covers Jo's first term as Head Girl. Notable events:
Jo, rebelling against the idea of being Head Girl and growing up in general, pays a visit to Gisela Mensch, who manages to talk her round to the idea somewhat.
Mademoiselle announces that as part of Madge's birthday celebrations that year, the school will be going to see the Passion Play at Oberammergau.
The prefects hold a meeting to dole out duties, and Jo proposes that Stacie, who is up at the Sonnalpe recovering from her accident the term before, be the new editor of the Chaletian,
in order to give her something to think about while she is convalescing. The other prefects agree.
Jo takes an eventful prep which includes people tilting, overbalancing, knocking over ink and books, and Elsie Carr setting off a squawker toy to cause a disturbance.
After a Guides meeting, Jack Maynard arrives to take Jo, Marie, Evadne and Irma von Rothenfels up to the Sonnalpe. On the way they meet three guests who have been observing the school with interest, and Jack realises that one of them, Frank Hillis, is an old acquaintance.
Upon reaching the Sonnalpe, we learn that Mrs Eastley, wife of the chaplain who has been conducting the Protestant services at the school, has passed away. Madge informs Jo in private that the doctors are fearful that the Robin may be starting TB, and that she will have to stay at the Sonnalpe until she is at least fourteen. She tells Jo not to tell anyone except Frieda and Marie.
After recovering from the shock, Jo blames Stacie and the incident on the glacier the previous term for starting the Robin's health issues, but Marie counsels her that if the Robin is
starting TB, she would have done so whether the glacier incident had happened or not.
Back at school, in a single day Frieda, Ruth Wynyard and Margia Stevens are doused in Stickphast, Jo causes Luise to upset hot soup over the two of them and Peggy Burnett, and Elsie Carr and Maria Marani get their heads stuck in the backs of peasant chairs and have to be sawn out by Hansi.
News comes that the Robin has been examined by a specialist from Vienna and been declared free of TB. However, when Jo goes to Die Rosen for a visit Madge tells her that the Robin will never return to the CS down at Briesau as she needs to be watched by the doctors, and so they are going to open an annexe of the school up on the Sonnalpe for frail pupils. Juliet Carrick is to come out to Austria to head it.
Jo goes wild with relief at the news of the Robin, and tells Stacie that she knows the glacier incident may only have hastened the trouble, not caused it.
Juliet joins the school for the trip to the Passion Play, and before leaving they run into the Hillises, and Mrs Hillis's brother Mr O'Hara. Jo is startled to note that Juliet has clearly met them before, and that there is a distinct iciness between Juliet and Mrs Hillis.
On the train to Oberammergau, Jo gets Juliet alone, and the latter informs her that she had been great friends with Mrs Hillis at the Royal Holloway, and had been involved with Donal O'Hara, when word reached Mrs Hillis of the Carricks' dodgy behaviour in India, and she dropped Juliet and warned Donal off her.
Arriving at Oberammergau, the prefects go out for a stroll with Juliet, and discover that Evadne, Cornelia, Elsie, Ilonka and Maria have been playing at Red Indians, and they are well and truly hauled over the coals for making such an exhibition of themselves and the school.
The school attends the Passion Play - at which Jo spots the Stuffer and Marie, last seen in Head Girl
- and afterwards Jo faints from all the emotional strain.
A week after returning from Oberammergau, the Quintette and Maria Marani discover Biddy O'Ryan, a ten year old Irish girl whose stepfather has recently died, crying on the footpath next to the school's fence. She has run away from Hall after learning that she is to go to the Cecilia Home for Orphans. The Middles contrive to feed and clothe her among themselves, and hide her in the pine woods during the day and the games shed at night.
Jo and Juliet go for a walk to Geisalm, and encounter both Biddy and Kay Hillis.
After a few days, Jo eventually discovers Biddy locked in the games shed, and marches her off to Mademoiselle, who in turn sends her to Matron to be looked after. The Middles are told off first by Mademoiselle and then the prefects, who afterwards decide that the school should adopt Biddy through the Guides, with the idea of training her to be a lady's maid when she reaches fifteen.
The Chalet School and St Scholastika's hold a boat race, which is narrowly won by the Chalet team, led by Marie. The local lord of the manor, the Baron von und zu Wertheimer, presents the cup, and takes an immediate interest in her.
Jo, revved up from the boat race, obtains permission from Miss Wilson to go for a stroll (bearing a massive Japanese sunshade known to the girls as The Red Peril) and encounters Donal again, and proceeds to give him a piece of her mind over his treatment of Juliet. After he acknowledges being at fault, Jo relents and arranges to get him alone with Juliet so that he can try to make amends. Everything goes to plan, and Juliet and Donal reconcile and become engaged.
Wanda comes out to the Sonnalpe to spend the summer with her son, Bette Rincini becomes engaged, and Gertrud Steinbrücke has caught the eye of a new San doctor. Madge also reveals that Marie Pfeiffen will be 'busy' in the winter. Finally, Jo receives a letter from Elisaveta announcing that she will also be coming out to the Sonnalpe for the summer holidays.
So, what do you think of Jo's first term in the hot seat? Do you think her rebelling against growing up is realistic? What do you think of all the anxiety over the Robin? Did you enjoy the descriptions of the Passion Play and Oberammergau? What about the Middles' antics throughout the term? Did you like the Juliet/O'Hara subplot? Discuss below!