Set in the final days before a shocking tragedy forces an elite boarding school to shut its doors for good, Ellie Eaton’s The Divines is a razor-sharp debut that asks the question: were you really as good as you remember?
I am Divine.
My mother was Divine and her mother before that, which isn’t uncommon.
Although that was at a time when being Divine meant something . . .
The girls of elite English boarding school, St. John the Divine, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cutting in the way that only teenage girls can be. But for Josephine, now in her thirties, her time at St. John feels like a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shut its doors in disgrace . . .
But an impromptu visit reawakens blurry recollections of those doomed final weeks that rocked the community. With each memory that resurfaces, she circles closer to the ugly 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.
With the emotional power of My Dark Vanessa and the reflective haze of The Girls, The Divines is a compulsive debut exploring the intoxicating, destructive relationships between teenage girls.
‘A cool, chilling and elegant novel’ Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
‘Perfectly twisted . . . Impossible to put down’ Refinery29
‘An explosive debut’ Stylist
Compelling and very atmospheric. Really interesting on how we remember the past and carry it with us * Kate Sawyer, author of The Stranding * The Divines is a scintillating coming-of-age story about the brutal bonds of female boarding school friendships, class prejudices, and the ways in which false memories can take the place of truth. Sephine is an unflinching and utterly convincing narrator. I lapped up every delicious detail * Susie Yang, author of White Ivy * From the very first page, The Divines throws the reader headfirst into the crucible of adolescent girlhood, in all its insecurity and entitlement, brittle vulnerability and callous cruelty. Eaton turns a keen eye toward class, privilege, and trauma, but this novel is above all a ruthlessly compassionate exploration of the stories we tell ourselves about the past-our drive to assuage our regrets, even as we are reluctant to reckon with their repercussions. A confident, nuanced, impeccably paced debut * Micah Nemerever, author of These Violent Delights * The Divines is an absorbing, sharp exploration of the ways our adolescent secrets, relationships, and cruelties shape and haunt us into adulthood. Ellie Eaton's writing is thrilling and intoxicating, whether about the inexplicable power teenage girls have over one another or the challenges of defining a self outside of long-held traditions. A compulsively readable book; I couldn't put it down * Alexandra Chang, author of Days of Distraction * 'Girls are vicious,' a character in The Divines says towards the end, and Ellie Eaton has given us every ounce of that viciousness, meticulously portioned and weighed, the pain of it held up to the light. Seductive and uncomfortable in equal measure, the real raw strange runs through this book, that indigestible part of the human experience we all choke on from time to time * Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen and The Girls from Corona Del Mar * A potent novel about what it means to remember and how responsible we are for the actions of our youth. Seething with teenage sexuality, friendship and that peculiarly British obsession, class, this is an absorbing read * Araminta Hall * THE DIVINES is a cool, chilling and elegant novel that intrigues and compels the reader, while filleting the absurdities of British class hierarchy with a very, very sharp knife. In Eaton's stylish and controlled prose, the oppressive atmosphere of a girls' boarding school becomes the site of a violent and mysterious act, but also a lens through which to examine the intoxicating and unnerving power of adolescent sexuality, the dangers and consolations of friendship, and the toxic nature of the class divide. It's a terrific, entertaining and astute work and one of considerable relevance to the way we live now. * Sarah Perry, author of THE ESSEX SERPENT * Compelling and very atmospheric. Really interesting on how we remember the past and carry it with us * Kate Sawyer, author of THE STRANDING * Remembering the girls of St. John the Divine, Josephine, in her 30s, ruminates on her bullying days at boarding school. In this captivating debut novel, Ellie Eaton traces adolescent female sexuality, class divides, and the weight of formative memories on adults * New York Magazine * This elegant tale of class privilege and bullying at an exclusive girl's boarding school in the 90s makes you feel as though you are trapped alongside conflicted protagonist Josephine * iNews, Best Books of 2021 * Exploring the destructive relationships of teenage girls and the echoes they have on our grown lives, this is an explosive debut * Stylist * A dark delight . . . The Divines is perfectly twisted in its reflection of an utterly toxic environment, making it impossible to put down till you get to its end. * Refinery29 *
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