Gossip of the Starlings

Gossip of the Starlings

3.5 28
by Nina De Gramont
     
 

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When Catherine Morrow is admitted to the Esther Percy School for Girls, it's on the condition that she reform her ways. But that's before the beautiful and charismatic Skye Butterfield, daughter of the famous Senator Butterfield, chooses Catherine for her best friend. Skye is in love with danger and the thrill of breaking rules, taking risks, and crossing

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Overview

When Catherine Morrow is admitted to the Esther Percy School for Girls, it's on the condition that she reform her ways. But that's before the beautiful and charismatic Skye Butterfield, daughter of the famous Senator Butterfield, chooses Catherine for her best friend. Skye is in love with danger and the thrill of breaking rules, taking risks, and crossing boundaries, no matter the stakes. The problem is, the stakes keep getting higher, and Catherine can neither resist Skye nor stop her from taking down everyone around her.

De Gramont's chilling novel is a portrait of the seductions of adolescence in all their beauty and terror. Caught in this alluring world, the girls of Esther Percy are optimistic and willful, loving and selfish, daring and cruel—all the while believing they're utterly indestructible.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"De Gramont skillfully sustains a tension that leads to an explosive ending while providing us with characters that go well beyond many recent examples of upper-crust East Coast teenage life. Think Donna Tartt and Bret Easton Ellis with the wisdom of hindsight....A compelling coming-of-age novel....[Gossip of the Starlings] excels in its honest depiction of the interrelationships among teens and with their families and circumstances."—Library Journal

"The kind of smart and riveting read that fans of a certain kind of campus drama—think Donna Tartt's The Secret History — will devour...There's romance, betrayal, a gorgeous scholarship boy and a spot-on rendering of the queasy regret you sometimes feel when friends from separate orbits meet. Grab this one and share it with your teenage daughter.” —People, four stars

"It's a rare book that draws you into the tiny, idiosyncratic world of its characters so completely, and de Gramont’s descriptions are often so vivid you'll want to give them a closer read...grade: A-."—The Washington Post

"Sparkles with an intense exuberance . . . it trumps Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace...Gossip of the Starlings will join that shelf reserved for literary classics." —Providence Sunday Journal

Publishers Weekly
In this poignant novel, de Gramont explores a loyal and destructive friendship between two girls at a New England prep school. Catherine Morrow, the book's relatable protagonist, can't believe her luck when Skye, the popular daughter of acclaimed senator Douglas Butterfield, befriends her. A symbol of idealistic American wholesomeness, Skye is quick to push the boundaries at the Esther Percy School, and soon she joins Catherine in a blur of drunken nights and cocaine binges. But as Catherine cleans up and focuses on school work and extracurricular activities, Skye spirals deeper into her addiction and has an affair with a teacher. Despite Catherine's efforts, she can't untangle herself from Skye's daring escapades, and soon the girls are again involved in dangerous situations. Though Catherine warns the reader of the story's tragic finale from the opening chapters, the ending still reverberates with heartbreak. De Gramont's coming-of-age story distinguishes itself with sincere prose and complex characters.
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Library Journal

In fall 1984, best friends Catherine and Skye have quite a few things in common-wealthy New England roots, cocaine habits, and the distinction of being expelled from other boarding schools before meeting at the Esther Percy School for Girls. Catherine is preparing for equestrian championships and juggling a long-distance relationship with John Paul, while Skye maneuvers her very public life as a popular liberal senator's daughter. Various adult supporting characters are well drawn, but the teens and their perspectives remain center stage. Against the usual high school backdrop of boys, angst, and excess, Harvard Extension School writing instructor de Gramont (Of Cats and Men) skillfully sustains a tension that leads to an explosive ending while providing us with characters that go well beyond many recent examples of upper-crust East Coast teenage life. Think Donna Tartt and Bret Easton Ellis with the wisdom of hindsight. Young adults should be a strong audience for this compelling coming-of-age novel, which excels in its honest depiction of the interrelationships among teens and with their families and circumstances. Recommended for all fiction collections.
—Jenn B. Stidham

Kirkus Reviews
Unsavory deeds at a girl's preparatory academy shatter a rare friendship between two students. Debut novelist de Gramont (stories: Of Cats and Men, 2001) employs an elegiac voice in this memorable if uneven novel based on the plethora of prep school scandals. After she's caught in bed with her impossibly decent boyfriend John Paul, teenaged Catherine Morrow is forcibly enrolled at the Esther Percy School for Girls, an austere New England institution whose effect is akin to putting all the rotten eggs in one basket. There she develops a life-altering bond with fiery redhead Skye Butterfield, the spoiled but defiant daughter of the region's Kennedy-esque senator, Douglas. "Some people can't help but pull you into their messes," warns Catherine's former best friend Susannah, and Skye quickly proves it with increasingly erratic behavior. Fueled by a voracious appetite for drugs and attention, Skye joins an environmental protest to purposefully derail her father's burgeoning political power; is nearly attacked while hitchhiking with an innocent roommate; and viciously tempts Mr. November, an unbalanced male teacher whose wife left because of Skye's machinations. Any story that begins with its heroines cutting lines of cocaine on a toaster oven can't end well. But the author inhabits her placid protagonist Catherine and her ill-fated counterpart to dramatic effect. It's difficult not to like the well-meaning Catherine despite her unwise choices (the urge to wave her away from self-destructive Skye arises frequently). This is especially true during the novel's denouement, as Skye betrays her one true friend and then pulls her final disappearing act. A subplot involving Catherine's halfheartedpursuit of an equestrian championship is distracting, as is Susannah's wildly improbable scheme to smuggle drugs from Venezuela to New England with the help of a dim-witted boyfriend. But when de Gramont focuses her gaze on her naive, doomed muses, the book soars. A transfixing confessional about the secret lives of dangerous girls. Agent: Peter Steinberg/The Steinberg Agency
People
"The kind of smart and riveting read that fans of a certain kind of campus drama—think Donna Tartt's The Secret History — will devour...There's romance, betrayal, a gorgeous scholarship boy and a spot-on rendering of the queasy regret you sometimes feel when friends from separate orbits meet. Grab this one and share it with your teenage daughter.” —People, four stars
The Washington Post
"It's a rare book that draws you into the tiny, idiosyncratic world of its characters so completely, and de Gramont’s descriptions are often so vivid you'll want to give them a closer read...grade: A-."—The Washington Post

Providence Sunday Journal
"Sparkles with an intense exuberance . . . it trumps Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace...Gossip of the Starlings will join that shelf reserved for literary classics." —Providence Sunday Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565125650
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
05/28/2008
Pages:
276
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Nina de Gramont has written a stunning story of youth at its zenith and the tragic allure of a reckless zest for life that masks something far darker. I inhaled this novel in one breath." —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

Meet the Author

Nina de Gramont is the author of the story collection Of Cats and Men, which was a Book Sense selection and won a Discovery Award from the New England Booksellers Association. Her first novel, Gossip of the Starlings, was also a Book Sense pick. She is the coeditor of an anthology called Choice and the author of several young adult novels. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington. Find her at www.ninadegramont.com.


 

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