The Girls

All posts tagged The Girls

The Girls – Emma Cline

Published October 21, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

What did I think?:

One of my favourite parts of the month is when I buddy read with my fellow bloggers. I read books with my sister, Chrissi Reads very regularly – we have a Banned Books, a Kid-Lit series and a “Talking About” feature and more recently, I’ve started a monthly buddy read with my good friend, Janel from the wonderful blog Keeper Of Pages. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person a couple of weeks ago at a Quercus Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening that she kindly invited me to and I’m delighted to announce that she’s just as fabulous in person as she is on her blog. Our buddy read for last month was The Girls by Emma Cline and although it wasn’t a five star read for us (like the majority of our co-reads have been) we both still thoroughly enjoyed it and there were parts of the narrative that DEFINITELY made a lasting impact that I’m still continuing to think about today.

Emma Cline, author of The Girls.

I don’t want to go too deeply into the topics this book covers, the synopsis above from Goodreads does that more than adequately and is just teasing enough not to give anything further away. I think what I would like to talk about is how this book seems to have divided readers, especially in the strength of reviews/difference in star ratings it has received. The average rating for this novel on Goodreads is 3.47, kind of a middle-of-the-road rating which I’m both surprised by and not surprised by at all, if that makes any sense? First of all, I don’t think this novel is for everyone and I believe that explains the difference in opinions that people clearly seem to have. It seems like for The Girls, you either really like this book or you don’t get on with it at all. As I scanned my eyes down the page for star ratings the vast majority seemed to be either 4/5 star reviews or 2 stars. Why is this? Perhaps, in part it’s down to the pacing of the narrative which is quite slow, methodical and written at times almost like a stream of consciousness which I realise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

1960’s America, the time period in which The Girls is set.

Image from video: The Top 10 Defining Moments of 1960’s America @ https://www.watchmojo.com/video/id/11930

Personally, I really enjoyed this novel. I have to admit, it took me a little while to get used to the writing style and the hazy, almost other-worldly feeling that I think perfectly embodied both the mind of the cult and the drugs that fourteen year old Evie Boyd was exposed to once indoctrinated within Russell’s unique little group. We see Evie as both an adult (where she has a startlingly similar mindset to her adolescent self) and the time period of the late 1960’s where she meets, becomes infatuated with Suzanne and enters the dangerous world of the cult for the very first time. It’s true to say that Evie completely frustrated me at points and I found myself wanting to shake her for certain things that she becomes involved with but whenever I felt this way, I reminded myself how intensely vulnerable I was too as a teenager.

It’s amazing how much influence certain people can have over you when you are a more naive, trusting individual and by the end of the novel, I was genuinely shocked by how much I had in common with Evie after all. It was quite a sobering and illuminating reflection but also had the effect of making me connect with her character on a deeper level so as a result I enjoyed this novel even more that I might have done without this frightening similarity in parts of our personalities!

As a piece of literary fiction, I feel like The Girls is almost like a work of art. Not everybody is going to enjoy it but there are going to be others that see something in it so fascinating that the story will linger in their memories for some time to come.

Thank you to Janel @ Keeper Of Pages for another brilliant buddy read! Check out her amazing review of The Girls HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Previous buddy reads with Janel @ Keeper Of Pages 

The Fireman by Joe Hill – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

 

The Girls by Emma Cline was the forty-ninth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

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Talking About The Girls by Lisa Jewell with Chrissi Reads

Published August 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery and the games people play: the gripping new novel from the bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this author before starting this book?

BETH: Hmm, I don’t think I had any preconceptions but I definitely had expectations. Lisa Jewell is a favourite author of one of my favourite bloggers, Cleopatra Loves Books and I always meant to read one of her books. I was super glad when Richard and Judy picked it as one of their books for Summer 2016 as you know we follow this list religiously and I knew I was going to finally get the opportunity to read her! Now that I have, I can see what Cleo is talking about and I’m going to make it my mission to read her back catalogue… er… eventually!

BETH: How do you think the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel? Does this have any bearings on what happened?
CHRISSI: What an interesting question! I do think that the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel, in very different ways. I feel like they did miss their father but it manifested in different ways. Grace, I believe, was more angry with her father whereas Pip missed him dearly. Her letters to him were adorable and so touching. I’m not so sure about it having any bearings on what happens but it would be interesting, if there was a father figure around, whether certain events would have played out in the same way.

CHRISSI: What do you think the location of the novel in a residential square adds to the novel?

BETH: I think it gives the story as a whole a lot more atmosphere and tension. The characters that we meet all live in very close proximity to each other and the huge gardens that surround the houses are communal. It can be a bit cliquey, and the neighbours that don’t join in with the activities are viewed with a bit of suspicion. It also offers a lot of opportunities for situations to escalate, gossip to spread and tension to rise.

BETH: This is a story about secrets – is it ever better to keep a secret than to share?
CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a particularly tricky question, especially because of the job I’m in.  As a teacher working with young children we are always taught to be very careful around ‘secrets’ for child protection issues. Unfortunately, when some bad things happen to children they are asked to keep it secret otherwise there will be trouble. It’s an awkward one. When I’ve discussed the topic of secrets with my class, I always say that there are secrets that can be fun e.g. a surprise party, but some secrets can be harmful. So in answer to the question, no- it’s not ever better to keep a secret than to share. It really depends on circumstances. Secrets can hurt people but they can also protect people. Argh. Such a tricky one.

CHRISSI: Discuss the family relationships in this story.

BETH: There are quite a lot of characters to come to grips with in this novel but personally, that never overwhelmed me as the characters were written so well that I felt I knew each one of them individually which helped me connect to both them and the story. I loved the differing dynamics between the families – between parents and children, between the siblings and how the children interacted with each other across the various families. We got a wide range of personality types, parenting styles and plot twists to keep the reader turning the pages. My favourite relationship had to be Claire with her children Pip and Grace and also their absent father whose absence is a story all of its own!
BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?
CHRISSI: I really liked Pip. I found her incredibly endearing and I thought her notes to her absent father were very endearing!
CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: No, not really and I’m so glad! I do feel a bit annoyed every time I can predict where a story is going and I love to be surprised and shocked as a reader. I thought I had everything figured out in terms of what happened but I certainly didn’t even though the author leaves tiny little breadcrumb clues through the narrative. The ending also was interesting in that it didn’t finish completely how I wanted but in that way it made it better if that makes any sense?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s writing and I can totally see why Cleo is such a fan. 🙂
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
BETH’S star rating (out of 5):
four-stars_0
CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):
four-stars_0