Author: Ellie Eaton
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: January 10, 2021
Book Description: With the emotional power of Normal People and the reflective haze of The Girls, a magnetic novel that moves between present-day Los Angeles and a British boarding school in the 1990s, exploring the destructive relationships between teenage girls.
Can we ever really escape our past?
The girls of St John the Divine, an elite English boarding school, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys, and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cuttingly humorous in the way that only teenage girls can be. For Josephine, now in her thirties, the years at St John were a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shuttered its doors in disgrace.
Yet now Josephine inexplicably finds herself returning to her old stomping grounds. The visit provokes blurry recollections of those doomed final weeks that rocked the community. Ruminating on the past, Josephine becomes obsessed with her teenage identity and the forgotten girls of her one-time orbit. With each memory that resurfaces, she circles closer to the violent secret at the heart of the school’s scandal. But the more Josephine recalls, the further her life unravels, derailing not just her marriage and career, but her entire sense of self.
Suspenseful, provocative, and compulsively readable, The Divines is a scorching examination of the power of adolescent sexuality, female identity, and the destructive class divide. Exposing the tension between the lives we lead as adults and the experiences that form us, Eaton probes us to consider how our memories as adults compel us to reexamine our pasts.
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Review: This a campus novel that examines the past and how it can haunt you long after your school years. We meet Josephine, newly married, a successful freelance writer, and it should be the happiest time in her life, however her mind keeps wandering back to her past.
The book goes between present and past. In the present we watch her husband and her move a lot, have a child and see her grow into toddler-hood. The entire time there is something that continues to bother her that bleeds into her life.
Through memories we go into her past when she was a fifth year at an elite boarding school for girls. You can consider her group the “mean girls”. From the beginning we know something has happened to her roommate, but the author slowly unravels the story of what happened.
For almost of the entirety I was completely intrigued by this story. This debut author really knows how to give us a slow burn of a story. However, ultimately, the ending was disappointing. I wanted something surprising, and my reaction was, that’s it. However there is enough material, to recommend this book. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author.