THE DIVINES - ELLIE EATON
Title: The Divines
Author: Ellie Eaton
Published: January 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Coming of Age
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.
NICKY'S REVIEW ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Our (mostly) roaring start in the 2021 book department continues with this exceptional debut by @ellie.m.eaton. Set in a prestigious all girls boarding school, and reeling with scandals, conflict and teenage experimentations, it exceptionally weaves duo timelines based on the protagonists Jo’s struggle with suppressing her past, and embracing her present. It touched on exploration of levels of class, and social structures, which proved to be fruitful undertones. I could never quite sit comfortably, as it unilaterally denied me of any space for forethought, nor afford me enough time to concoct theories because of how fast paced it was. Whilst some of the characters left a bit to be desired, I believe that their at times, potentially intentional unrelatability was what made them endearing, and there can be no denying they were well manifested. As a self-renowned tough critic, I thought this was brilliantly executed.
TAY'S REVIEW ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
‘The Divines’ delivered all the elite education, campus-based elements of ‘Wild Child’ and the dark, competitive peer dynamics of ‘Tiny Pretty Things’ in one skillfully written work of fiction. The teenage girl experience was at the forefront of this coming-of-age story; exploring sexuality, popularity and cliques, toxic friendships, authority rebellion, isolation and loneliness. But it was the steady unnerving, sinister undertone that took it to a whole other level, never really allowing me to feel at ease. At its core, it’s a study of self-perception. Though I didn’t find her overly likable, we see the main character examine her own identity, yearn to create a version of herself that will fit in, and then later reinvent a version that will protect her from the trauma of her school years. A brilliant example of how the choices we make can haunt us even into adulthood. The ending left me speechless, in the best way. Poetic, almost. I can see this making a deliciously binge-worthy tv series.
Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending us an advanced review copy of this book.
You can find more information about the book and purchase a copy here.
OUR FAVOURITE QUOTE
“Divines could be cruel, conceited, arcane, but we were faithful to the end. We sobbed and hugged one another. Forever, we promised, always. Nothing could break us apart, proving in the end how much we underestimated Gerry. We swore on our lives. We crossed our hearts.”
OUR Q&A WITH ELLIE
Click here to read the Q&A we had the pleasure of hosting with Ellie Eaton!
Bomb Magazine Interview
Belonging, Desire, and the Cruelties of Youth: Ellie Eaton Interviewed by Kayla Maiuri