Callin’ Baton Rouge

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And here we go go go. I am mildly saddened because I think that the version of this recap that I started on my laptop had some gold in it, but that be the way it is, so let’s begin this hayride, shall we?

Pearl in the Mist opens with a letter from Ruby to Paul. In it, she rehashes some of the plot of Ruby (and I was wrong, we do get one last mention of Lyle), and tells him that she and Gisselle are going to Greenwood, an exclusive boarding school for girls outside of Baton Rouge. Ruby makes sure to mention that yes, she really does wish that she and Paul weren’t half-siblings, so that she could run back to the bayou and build a life with him (somewhere Beau’s ears are burning), but, alas, they are, so she wants to make sure that they stay friends. Plus, she’s sure that Gisselle feels the same, as she’s been asking about Paul ever since meeting and inappropriately flirting with him at the end of Ruby. No, Ruby, I don’t think that’s what Gisselle is thinking at all. This is Gisselle we’re talking about here. Ruby closes the letter by asking Paul to pray for her.

The plot proper begins with Ruby waking up from what is apparently a recurring dream. She’s in the bayou, floating along in a pirogue, and it’s particularly dark and scary, there are skeletons (?!) and whatnot, and she can hear a baby crying for its mother. (FORESHADOWING) She drifts toward a shack, where she can see the baby in a hammock, and it has a pearl-colored complexion. (FORESHADOWING) As she gets closer, the shack starts to sink into the SWAMPS, and just as she’s about to reach the baby, it sinks completely and then she wakes up.

FORESHADOWING

Thank you, Swamp Thing.

Almost immediately upon waking, Ruby has to run interference for the maid, Wendy, because Pierre sent Wendy to get Gisselle ready for the trip to Greenwood, and Gisselle is pretending to be asleep. Gisselle (SHOCKER) is being a giant brat about going to Greenwood, and lights into Ruby about how it’s all her fault. She also makes sure to tell Ruby that Beau is going to have a field day while she’s away, so she might want to consider that. Ruby is her usual “I don’t own Beau and he doesn’t own me, and I’m not bothered at all lallalallallalala” self about this, and Gisselle is frustrated by her reaction. Ruby goes down to get breakfast and learns that Daphne will be taking her meal in her room, as she doesn’t care to be bothered by the whole “My stepdaughters are going away to school” thing. Ruby talks with her father a little about Gisselle’s brattiness and about how much better it will be for everyone once the twins are away at school. Oh! Oh, first though, Ruby makes sure to check her dad out before she talks to him. Oh that girl. And I love how everyone in this family is consistently trash-talking Gisselle. I know she’s a bitch, but damn guys. Especially you, Pierre. Way to bond with your new daughter by giggling behind the first one’s back.

Ruby goes into the kitchen to say goodbye to Nina, who gives her a dime on a string to wear around her ankle to protect her. Ruby reminds us yet again that she totally believes in voodoo because her Grandmere Catherine was a swamp healer, and she thanks Nina. Gisselle finally comes downstairs for breakfast. Afterward, the girls and Pierre prepare to leave for Baton Rouge. Daphne makes an appearance to warn her stepdaughters not to embarass her or their family name, and tells them that they’ve been spoiled by Pierre and that the best possible thing for them to is to be away from him. Ruby retorts that it’s in fact better for them to be away from Daphne, and she and Gisselle go outside. Note: Gisselle has packed so much stuff that Pierre had to rent a van to follow behind them. I love her.Beau comes tearing up at the last minute to give Ruby a guilt trip about going away to school and to give her a locket with pictures of the two of them inside. D’awwwwwwwwww! They head out to school, with Gisselle refusing to look around or wave to anyone, and she complains about having to leave New Orleans and all of her friends behind. Ruby points out that none of Gisselle’s so-called “good friends” came to say goodbye to her, or even called, but Gisselle insists that they were too upset to do so. I’m sure she’s right about that, aren’t you?

Blah blah blah they drive to Baton Rouge. Pierre tries to teach them some local history as they drive, Ruby sucks up, and Gisselle whines. We learn that Gisselle has launched a campaign to turn Ruby against their father, pointing out that he not only cheated on his wife, but he then allowed his father to buy his illegitimate child and never argued against it. Though Gisselle’s points are many and strong, Ruby just loves Pierre so gosh-darned much that she sees past all of that.

They arrive at the school and go in to get the twins registered. Gisselle bitches that she can’t wait to get their information (I mean, she’s in a wheelchair! Don’t these people have souls??), so Pierre pulls some strings and gets their packets early. They get back in the car and pull up in front of their dorm, the Louella Claiborne House, where they meet the dorm mother, Mrs. Penny and their quad mates. The introductions go on for a bit, so here’s a quick rundown:

Yeah, that's right.

Center: Mrs. Penny, who is the typical flustered dorm mother. She expects (and believes) that all of her students are innocent little angels from the best of families, and is easily befuddled and overwhelmed.

On her right is Kathleen Norton, who, we’re told, everyone calls “Chubs” (though she tries to get a “Kate!” in there), as she’s a bit thick and is known for her over-snacking. Kate is Jacqueline’s roommate.

Above Kate is Samantha, who, Mrs. Penny is quick to tell us, is from Mississippi. Well my very stars. She looks much younger than the rest of them, and is the most innocent, something Gisselle immediately picks up on and seeks to exploit. Samantha is Victoria’s roommate.

Next to Samantha is Jacqueline Gidot, who is the instigator and gossip-monger of the group. She’s the first to be a snot about Abby, even before she’s arrived.

Not pictured, since she’s so unpopular that they wouldn’t let her in the picture, is Victoria (Vicki), Samantha’s roommate and the resident Mookie. She wears glasses! She doesn’t shower that much! She studies all of the time!!! She and Gisselle are immediately at odds.

The final girl in the quad, who has yet to arrive and is set to occupy the only single room, is Abby Tyler. Mrs. Penny acts strangely when she’s mentioned, and the rest of the girls don’t know anything about her, or why she’s got the single room. Kate offers a hesitant thought about Abby, one that is quickly shot down by Jackie, as Greenwood doesn’t allow “them” in, no matter who protests. That’s all we hear about Abby at the moment, but SPOILER, who’s left in the picture? And do you think this will be handled at all subtly or non-ridiculously? Yeah.

Mrs. Penny and Pierre go off to get Ruby and Gisselle’s things settled. Vicki wants to know why Gisselle brought so much stuff, since they wear uniforms, and Gisselle flips out that she will do no such thing. She also scoffs at the school’s demerit system, as no one can punish her by making her clean anything, what with the wheelchair and all. Ruby spends this whole time rolling her eyes at Gisselle’s commentary. Gisselle wants to know what the Greenwood girls do about boys, which makes Samantha turn bright red, since the very mention of boys confuses and scares her. Vicki tells the sisters that there’s a dance with a proper boys’ school once a month, and Gisselle remarks “How peachy! Once a month, just like a period!” which makes Samantha blurt out “What??” and Gisselle takes the opportunity to ask if Samantha even knows what a period is. And on Gisselle, Vicki, Jackie, and Kate’s laughter, Samantha’s embarrassment, and Ruby’s horror, it becomes time for the girls to go to orientation. Ruby and Gisselle say goodbye to Pierre and it’s all very sad, but whatever. I tire of Pierre.

Just before they head over to the main building, Abby arrives. She’s very pretty, with a dark complexion (which Ruby attributes to spending lots of time at the beach) and long dark hair, and Ruby likes her immediately. Abby agrees to let Gisselle store some of her stuff in Abby’s room, and they all start walking over. On the way, Abby volunteers to get Gisselle’s things for her when she wants them, and is extremely upset when Gisselle asks if she’s practicing to be somebody’s maid. FORESHADOWING. Ruby snaps at her sister and tries to ignore her as they walk, chatting with Abby about boyfriends. She shows Abby her locket, and Gisselle points out that since Beau is so very handsome, he’s probably already with someone else. I’d say she’s bitter, but she kinda has reason to be. At the assembly, Gisselle complains about every little thing, almost getting the whole group of them in trouble. They go back to their dorm and Gisselle flips out when she learns that none of the girls have ever tried to sneak out or do anything against the rules. She accuses them all of being virgins (!). When she learns about the Greenwood custom of keeping the tea bags from the teas at Mrs. Claiborne’s house (three bags makes you a Tea Queen!), she just cannot handle it and addresses the following glory at her sister:

“Start what? Living? You’d like me to be an obedient little Greenwood girl and roll around quietly in my wheelchair with my mouth shut, my lap full of dried old tea bags, and my knees bound together, wouldn’t you?”

I love her so much.

She asks around for a cigarette, and when no one else smokes, she decides to share the ones that she smuggled in and she, Kate, Jackie, and Samantha go to her room to smoke. Vicki’s already fled. Ruby decides to go through the things of Gisselle’s that are being stored in Abby’s room, just to make sure she hasn’t brought anything else that she shouldn’t have. She also decides that the best plan of action is to tell Abby her and Gisselle’s secret CAJUN backgrounds. Girl cannot keep her mouth shut. They all go to dinner a little later, and afterward Gisselle and her new clique go to listen to records and Abby and Ruby go for a walk along the lake. Ruby pushes Abby to tell her the secret that Abby’s clearly harboring (and has referenced vaguely several times), and I do mean she pushes. Girl nags, like, Mary Worth levels of nagging, and finally Abby tells her.

Abby’s grandfather married a black woman from Haiti, making Abby’s father mixed, though he was able to pass as a white man. He married Abby’s mother (who is white), and they’d planned to never have children, worried that his heritage would come out, but they ended up having Abby anyway, and they move constantly to keep their secret, since whenever they stay anywhere too long, people start to figure it out. Most recently, the family of Abby’s ex-boyfriend found out, and her family moved again, sending Abby to Greenwood, hoping that sending her to such an exclusive school would forever keep her above such rumors. Ruby thanks Abby for confiding in her, but their sweet moment is interrupted by the introduction of Buck Dardar, the Native American groundskeeper, who lives in a shack by the lake and who chases them away as it’s after curfew. We’re informed that he’s pretty hot. Giggling, Abby and Ruby run back to their dorms.
Coming up: Art teachers, tea, and more of Gisselle’s bitchery. Stay tuned!

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Shannon says:

    Wait, what? Abby has to move when people start to figure out she’s a quarter black? Because that’s the worst thing in the world? Jay-sus, these books are so BAD!

    1. Megan says:

      Well, it is Louisiana in the 1960s, I’m not even entirely sure that her parents’ marriage was legal, terrible as that is. Plus, it’s a social thing, I guess.

      1. Shannon says:

        Oh, oh, I keep forgetting this is supposed to take place Back in the Day.

  2. Becca says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m hopelessly Canadian, but I never got why it was such a big deal that Abby was like a quarter black. Must be a deep south back-in-the day thing to have that be super controversial. When me and my fiance were watching the news we saw this story about how there isn’t a lot of colour in fashion. Both of us thought they were referring to the clothes which were like bland beiges and greys, but they meant skin colour. I guess that makes both of us hopelessly Canadian 😛

    1. Shannon says:

      When me and my fiance were watching the news we saw this story about how there isn’t a lot of colour in fashion. Both of us thought they were referring to the clothes which were like bland beiges and greys, but they meant skin colour.

      This whole thing just cracked me up. I’m terrible.

      1. Becca says:

        LOL We both thought it was pretty funny too when we realized what they were actually talking about. I’ve never thought of black people or any race as being coloured people. Whenever I hear that term I can’t help but picture someone covered in Dusty Rose or Majestic Blue crayons or something.

  3. Tintin LaChance says:

    Whoa, did I totally miss the part where Gisselle ends up in a wheelchair? Oops.

    1. Megan says:

      It happened towards the end of Ruby. She was in a car accident whilst high.

  4. Sadako says:

    Huzzah for swamp thing and the facts of life! the facts of life! 😀

    1. Megan says:

      I was googling pics of Mrs. Garrett for Mrs. Penny and then I realized that they all had to be in there.

  5. In this book I ended up wishing I could have read the tale of Abby instead of Ruby lol And then she just vanished… Well, I’m starting All that Glitters now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed 😛

    1. Megan says:

      I wish there had been SO MUCH more about Abby, she’s basically the only normal friend poor Ruby ever had.

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