‘The Girls’ – Emma Cline

The Girls

 

Due for publication in June 2016, this debut novel is definitely one to watch.

The opening of the novel creates a real sense of desire and perfectly recreates the intensity of being 14.

Evie Boyd is something of a spoiled rich kid, left pretty much alone by her divorced parents and not really fitting in anywhere. When she first sees Suzanne in a park the attraction is evident. Suzanne seems to represent everything that Evie wants but doesn’t have…freedom, confidence, a group etc. Slowly, Evie ingratiated herself into Suzanne’s group and we watch as she gets drawn under the spell of the charismatic cult-leader Russell.

After establishing this almost dream-like setting, Cline shifts her focus into the present. We now see Evie as an adult, alone. Here we learn a little more about what happened to Evie in the summer of 1969, and how her life was intertwined with some truly dark events.

Alternating the focus of the novel between past and present allows the adult Evie the opportunity to reflect on her experiences, but I wonder whether it keeps us just that little too distanced from it all. At times I felt we lost some of the innocence of young Evie as the adult narrator looks back on these times.

The novel is loosely based on the Manson murders, but I think the focus on Evie means this remains at the fore throughout. This was a complex and quite beautifully-written novel, and it seems an assured debut. My only reason for not rating it 5 stars was that I felt the ending was just a little too convenient for Evie.

Thank-you to NetGalley and Random House for the advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

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