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Sunday, October 2, 2016


As a debut novel, this is a most impressive beginning. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Emma Cline’s debut novel The Girls has deservedly received excellent reviews from major publications, focusing on her quality of writing and her insightful look at the story of a young girl who became involved in a cult.

The story is set in Northern California at the end of the 60’s and deals with Evie Boyd who lives with her mother (who is divorced from her father) and their relationship is far from functional.

One day in the park she notices a group of lively girls with long unkempt hair who are dressed with bohemian casualness. Amid much laughter, they set about scavenging in a dumpster outside a restaurant before they are chased off. Their attitude and freedom of lifestyle makes such an impression on her that she eventually leaves home and becomes involved in their cult, developing a strong fascination for Suzanne who is one of the leading figures.

As things develop she becomes strongly influenced by the head of the cult - the story is strongly based on Charles Manson - and is soon involved in the sex games he plays. However, things develop to a very dangerous level.

Cline’s writing is astute and her perception of Evie’s feelings and experiences make for riveting reading. For a debut novel, this is a most impressive beginning.

The Girls by Emma Cline is published by Chatto & Windus, part of Penguin Random House. ISBN 10: 1784740446 / ISBN 13: 9781784740443 – Caroline Smart