California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counterculture, a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life....
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?
©2016 Emma Cline (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
"The Girls is a brilliant and intensely consuming novel - imposing not just for a writer so young, but for any writer, any time." (Richard Ford)
"I don't know which is more amazing, Emma Cline's understanding of human beings or her mastery of language." (Mark Haddon)
"Emma Cline's first novel positively hums with fresh, startling, luminous prose. The Girls announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in American fiction." (Jennifer Egan)
"Emma Cline has an unparalleled eye for the intricacies of girlhood, turning the stuff of myth into something altogether more intimate. The Girls destroys our ability to consider violence a foreign territory, and reminds us that behind so many of our culture's fables exists a girl: unseen, unheard, angry. This book will break your heart and blow your mind." (Lena Dunham)
This was a push from when I started listening but I couldn't do it. It simply went from bad to worse. I wish I'd known.
This book was a struggle to finish. I kept hoping that something would eventually happen ....but nothing did. It was overwritten and overloaded with often bizarre metaphors and similes - probably trying for 'deeply profound' but for me it was just irritating. The author failed to develop the characters into anyone I could possibly care about. So relieved when it finished!
Though set in 1969, and based on the Manson gang, this is an incredible, visceral & current portrait of what it means to be a girl in this world. The powerlessness, and subsequent snatched pseudo-power conjured by sexual currency. The self destruction and sacrificing of themselves that young girls put themselves through in an effort to be relevant in any way. This book will stay with me for a long time.
"Look out helter skelter She's coming down fast"
A recreation of a crime anyone over fifty knows well, from the point of view of one of the groupies; with a recreation of Charles Manson and acolytes that is very good, but what is best about this book is the representation of the neglect some children suffer through their parents absolute disregard of their mental needs, while they tried to find their life after divorce. I think that it is the best recreation of a period that began the narcissistic race that created the first me generatio. Many people remember the age of aquarius as a freedom festival but in reality it was blind leading the blind into all kinds of unsavory experimentation among adults that totally forgot the responsibilities of parenthood and indulged in fairly self destructive practices. That affected children with all kinds of neglect and abuse.
The writer captures that very well and imagines many of the period idiosyncrasies very well, she is also a very good writer that manages to explore a young woman's sexuality without fear and in fresh ways, the violence is not titillating or overly emphasized but the moral dilemmas and the struggles and guilt are represented in a very real form.
I enjoyed the book but being from the same period, some of the plot was evident to me before it fully developed, and removed any kind of surprise. The characterizations were very good and the mood was well executed, making it more of a social study than a crime thriller.
"Uncomfortable and compelling"
This reworking of the Manson Family saga takes the concept from a different perspective. The focus is really more on the powerlessness of some of the female characters and their readiness to be manipulated. It captures characters with an often ugly realism. I found the story engaging though it is primarily focused on the mundane elements of the individuals lives, thankfully not focusing too heavily on the gruesome. In many ways it's the everyday material that creeps you out most!
This was so bad that I couldn't finish the book, despite perseverance. I hated the main character (Evie) both as a child and adult and could not empathise with her at all. When I say "main" character, she was basically the only character. The other "Girls" were all completely dippy and spaced out (no thanks to the narrator) and could barely utter more than three words at any given time.
The lowest point for me was when Evie (a 14 year old child) was about to be raped by an overweight, ageing rock star and all she was apparently concerned about was the state of her knicker elastic! It was then I decided I could take no more!
"Dreamy with quiet, sad dread"
It ranks highly, it's a good book that is well suited to the audiobook format.
It feels quite unique but has a shadow of the growing dread and pervading sense of guilt found in We Need To Talk About Kevin.
The flashback scenes were fascinating but Evie's first encounter with the 'girls' stands out in particular.
Evie and her reflections on her father were particularly poignant.
A surprisingly subtle meditation on womanhood, the disappointment of youth and guilt, with an almost incidental but seductive cult story triggering it all.
"Strange and Nothing-y"
This is a strange one to review. It is well written and evoked the feeling of summer, and the era really well. The narrator, I felt, was good. But the story seems to build up and build up, tension rises, and you're waiting ... and then it fizzles to nothing. No real climax as the story's narrator isn't actually present for it. I realise that that is done to keep her in our good books, but it makes for a poor ending.
Worth a read/listen, but don't expect too much.
Having listenend not too long ago, to "Helter Skelter" this was a well-timed book for me. Giving the perpective of what compells seemingly ordinary young people to join a cult - and drive them to the extreme. Very well written & told. This one captured and kept my attention until the very end.
"Dark and enticing"
Not what I was expecting but couldn't stop listening. I love the reader's voice and found the story believable and intriguing.
"Beautifully written, engaging novel"
I have read ones that were much more engaging and important to me but it is quite good.
I don't think I had one.
I'm not sure she adds anything. I like her voice and accent, a nice narration but not outstanding.
The only thing that was a bit annoying is that she pronounces each word so eloquently that there are these awkward mid-sentence gaps all the time. A bit like she's narrating for foreign students of English, to make sure each word is understood. Even when one word begins with the same consonant that the previous one ended in, she insists on pronouncing both with the same clarity. In the real world no-one speaks like that. No-one says things like "Susan's smile", or "climbed down", or "suspicious squint" with both the ending and beginning s's and d's in the middle pronounced clearly and separately, with a weird little gap in between.
The whole process of how Evie got emotionally trapped was very disturbing. I'm not sure if her breezy attitude to her first sexual encounters, as nasty as they were, was realistic. I could understand how a 14 year old would explain things to herself the way Evie did but it comes across if at the time it didn't even really affect her much.
All in all very nicely written, very good narration and describes very believably and realistically how a young girl might get trapped in a sect.
I have no idea how it is possible to make a novel essentially about the Manson Case boring but this writer did. there's no doubt the words are often beautifully expressed and the two stars are for those, but the lack of any invigorating plot leaves the story hanging in the breeze as if on a dry hot California day. The Mason Case is a state of America /comment on US society event and to ignore the opportunity to enfold that effectively into the novel is definitely a loss for the reader.
at the top
Evie sitting in the back of the car in the dark with suzzanne
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