Fiction: The Girls by Emma Cline
Published 20/06/2016 | 02:30
You can imagine the hype and publicity surrounding 25-year-old Emma Cline's $2m book-deal with her first novel The Girls. So does it deserve the fanfare? I must admit I really enjoyed it.
The Girls is a compelling coming-of-age story based loosely on Charles Manson and the Tate LaBianca murders of the summer of 1969.
These violent events are the backdrop for the story of 14 year-old Evie who, bored with her uneventful life, is mesmerised by the sight of a group of weird and free-spirited girls she sees in the park.
Living with her divorced and distracted mother, while waiting with dread to be sent off to boarding school, ignored by her ex-best friend and cast off by her first crush, Evie is ripe for seduction.
Soon she is lured into hanging out at 'The Ranch' with the charismatic but dangerous cult leader, Russell and his morally ambiguous acolytes.
Lonely, vulnerable and craving love, she falls under the spell of one of the older and ultimately murderous girls, Suzanne Parker.
Desperate to gain Suzanne's attention and approval, Evie engages in risky behaviour, stealing, drinking, doing drugs, even servicing the sweet-talking Russell.
She soon discovers however, that this counter-culture lifestyle of sex and drugs also has a dark and dangerous side.
Cline focuses not on the murders themselves, but on the landscape of adolescence, accurately portraying the boredom and lassitude, the yearning and insecurities of that awkward transitional stage.
Stunningly written, in fresh, youthful prose, expect to see The Girls on deckchairs, beach towels and best-seller lists over the coming months.
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