She’s a girl who is ‘dreamy’ (Daniel bit the Lions), speaks before she thinks (the whole Theodora/Ted/Margot going bonkers incident), and a girl who gets an entire subplot devoted to the disappearance of her fringe (one of the questionable highlights of Summer Term at the Chalet School).
But she’s not really ever described as a writer. Instead (and rather curiously I always think) Con seems to come across a bit of an enigma. She’s either a numpty (“Yes Sam, but of course you can ski on the black slope ski jump thing we sort of magically have on the ever expanding meadow, for I am yea verily thinking of a sonnet and thus cannot be concerned with your impending doom”), somebody who gets blamed for Margot flipping her lid (“I express the things we all want to say to you at this point Margot, you mayor of Crazytown you, even though I know I will be blamed for you going to DefCon One and trying to kill Betty Landon with a spatula”), or somebody who is too busy having storybook friends to have a ‘real’ friendship (“Oh Mary-Lou, what’s wrong with me?”).
And yet, this is a girl who is almost predestined to take over the mantel of her mother – the undoubted darling of the series. I’m loathe to describe her as having an Electra Complex but I feel that there’s maybe something there in that. She is competition. She is the ‘next generation’. Con is set up to be the writer – and here’s the key.
There are no other writers in the Chalet School series.
Of course there’s Amy, or Eustacia, or several others who show ‘talent’ or ‘ability’ with language, but they all tend to disappear into the ether. Stacie writes academically under E Benson and this writing is explicitly gendered as masculine (a new girl exclaims something along the lines of “E Benson? But I thought that was a man?”). Amy just gets ‘delicate’ and then bobs off to Oxford and then into the great unknown (if I recall correctly), and then, well, that’s it.
There are no other (creative) writers (that matter) in the Chalet School series save Joey. So I wonder if that’s the thing, if that’s why Con never really succeeds in the books, and if that’s why she remains such an unfulfilled character to me?
Because if she succeeded, if she became the Writer, the Maynard Writer, the one that people think of when they say Writer, then what’s the point of having Joey still around? Wouldn’t Con’s ability ‘normalise’ Joey’s? Wouldn’t it make the all singing and dancing nature of Joey ‘Superhero’ Maynard a little less … super?
Maybe, after so long with her, Brent-Dyer just couldn’t let Joey be replaced.