A sometimes hilarious, sometimes very moving account of life in a progressive school. Intellectual Alice, the orphaned sister-in-law of the headmaster, is bullied by her often filthy-rich, rebellious classmates. When 'spoilt-brat' American millionaire's son Winthrop T. Sheen arrives at the school, he to his surprise also gets bullied, and forms an unexpected alliance with Alice. Meanwhile Denis 'Grub' Viner, a gifted pianist and the 'joker' of his year, also finds himself gradually attracted to Alice, at the same time being led by his friend Johnny Tore into bullying both her and Winthrop. Loosely based on the myths of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur and of Ariadne and Dionysus, this is compulsive reading. I particularly liked the way that Craig depicted how friendships and romances form in an enclosed environment like a boarding school, and her portrayals of needy, brilliant, Classics-loving Alice and of Grub, with his passion for music and his gradual understanding that being popular isn't as important as he's always believed. And Winthrop, the over-confident American, was a brilliant creation - both obnoxious and at times oddly sympathetic. I also liked Craig's final explanation of why Johnny Tore was such a bully. The descriptions of day-to-day life in a progressive school had me laughing out loud. And there are plenty of coups-de-theatre in the last section of the book!
I hope Craig brings back Grub and Alice in one of her future novels (they are mentioned in several of her other books, but don't feature much) - I want to find out more about what happened to them after they left the school!