"Miss Pym stopped breathing and stared in unbelieving fascination. No really, did any college, however physical and hearty, begin the day at half-past five! Anything was possible, of course, in a community which had use for neither bedside table nor bedside lamps, but--half-past five!"
Miss Lucy Pym, bestselling author of a book on psychology, has come to Leys Physical Training College in England to give a guest lecture. She doesn't intend to stay long, but the fresh-faced vitality and enthusiasm of the girls intrigues her. And when the seniors invite her to Sunday tea, she agrees to stay a little longer, thinking to enjoy their wholesome society.
"But I remind you that it is their last term, this. And so everything is e-norrrmously exaggerated. Everyone is just the least little bit insane. If a student is frightened by nature, then she is a thousand times more frightened this term. ... It is not a normal life they lead. You cannot expect them to be normal."
And when a terrible accident happens at the college, Miss Pym finds herself in a terrible dilemma -- does she reveal to the headmistress her suspicions that it wasn't an accident after all, or does she keep them to herself?
The mystery part of this novel only comes into play the last sixty pages. The majority of the book concerns Miss Pym's interactions with the staff and the senior girls at the college, and her observations of their fears, hopes, and jealousies. Good thing I like that private college setting! And Lucy Pym? She's delightful. There is an old-fashioned feel to this one, which makes sense since it was published in 1947, but I didn't mind that either. It's an introspective novel, with more personal interactions than any real action, but it does have a nice twist at the end. This is the first Josephine Tey book that I've read (which makes it perfect to fill my Classic by a New-To-You Author in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge), but it won't be my last.