Book name: Into the Fourth at Trebizon
Author: Anne Digby
Format: print, ebook
Genre: Vintage Children’s Fiction, School Story
Publication Date: 1982
Star Rating: 5/5
Anne Digby’s ‘Trebizon’ series of boarding-school stories covers quite a few years in the lives of Rebecca Mason and her friends.
By the time they go into the Fourth Form, they are all starting to feel very grown up. Part of that is a growing interest in boys.
Rebecca, Tish, Sue and the others return to Trebizon for another year. Top of the agenda is bagging two rooms with a connecting door, so that all six of them can be together as much as possible.
Unfortunately, a new girl is visiting from Sweden so Mara is forced to sleep in a single room along the corridor in order that Ingrid can share with Rebecca.
Mrs Barrington asks Rebecca to help Ingrid settle in. The Swedish girl is very self-composed, but she sticks to Rebecca all the way through the term.
Rebecca desperately wants to focus on her tennis and on supporting her boyfriend Robbie in his rugby matches. However, Ingrid claims her time on a regular basis.
Partly in order to create more space for herself, Rebecca encourages Ingrid to go to the rugby matches in her place. Little does she know what consequences that will have.
Meanwhile, Tish can only think about hockey. A seven-aside team is being entered for a national tournament, and Tish is determined to win that and be voted in as Fourth Year Head of Games.
The campaign goes badly awry when Tish’s secret master list of her chosen seven-aside team is stolen from her luggage and pinned up for everyone to see.
Tish’s apparent presumption that she would win sparks resentment, and another candidate stands against her and wins.
Tish is immensely decent about losing, and full of introspection about what went wrong. I loved her grace under fire.
However, the search for the culprit leads Tish to wrongly believe that Mara had pinned up her list for everyone to see. This causes even more bad feeling among the girls than before.
Into the Fourth at Trebizon is an interesting book in that it features, as is very common among boarding-school stories, a new arrival at the school who doesn’t fit in.
Ingrid is self-absorbed and immensely composed. She remains separate emotionally from the girls, and her behaviour towards Rebecca is both deliberate and calculated.
While many boarding-school stories feature a new arrival as unpromising as Ingrid, it is generally the case that they will eventually learn from the school’s values and fit in by the end of the book.
Anne Digby took a different style of approach with Ingrid, who we are told from the start is only at Trebizon for a term.
By allowing Ingrid to stay precisely who she was throughout, to have her leave promptly as planned without growing as a person via her experience at the school or fitting in at Trebizon, Anne Digby suggests that it is possible to have a boarding-school story where the outsider remains just that.
I was intrigued by this, as the dynamic is so important to the boarding-school story genre that I can’t remember too many stories where the newcomer doesn’t fit in by the end.
Tish’s single-minded focus on success at games was far more typical of the genre and it balanced the storyline with Ingrid very nicely. Everyone cares so much about the outcome of the seven aside tournament.
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested in reading my review of The Trebizon books by Anne Digby.
Or you might like to take a look at my review of What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge.
If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson.