The Divines by Ellie Eaton

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

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The Divines by Ellie Eaton is a coming of age story that is shocking and seductive. The book has a dual timeline and a flawed, dislikable main character that is revisiting her teen years at an elite boarding school for girls. While this debut is beautifully written, the audio version will definitely draw you in and captivate you.

The Divines by Ellie EatonTitle: The Divines
Author: Ellie Eaton
Narrator: Imogen Church
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

With the emotional power of Normal People and the reflective haze of The Girls, a magnetic novel that moves between present-day Los Angeles and a British boarding school in the 1990s, exploring the destructive relationships between teenage girls.

Can we ever really escape our past?

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.

Amazon “iBooks” ““Blackwell’s””

❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

It has been a while since I have read a true bildungsroman and The Divines is one book that explores all of the psychological and moral growth that occurs as a character becomes an adult. Josephine (or Jo as a teen) is a very dislikable main character. She is part of a school that has a long standing tradition of bullying and arrogance. Although she does see her flaws and spends the entire novel reflecting on her past, she doesn’t quite seem to have become any more likeable as an adult.

❀ Dual Timeline

The book is historical and has a dual timeline that goes from present day to the 1990s. It starts off a bit slow, but does begin to  pick up as it goes on. The entire story focuses on Josephine’s past actions and how they have affected her in the present.

❀ Fantastic Narration

Imogen Church does a fantastic job narrating the novel and I am not sure that I would have stuck with this one until the end if it had not been for the narration. I don’t usually enjoy characters like Jo, but the narrator really captures your attention and makes you want to know more.

❀ Similar to Normal People

The Divines by Ellie Eaton has a similar feel to Normal People by Sally Rooney, so I would recommend it to those who enjoy a self-reflective novel with a difficult to love main character. That being said, there is a lot to appreciate in this debut novel and the audiobook is one that is well-narrated. I am looking forward to finding out what the author has in store for us next.

About Ellie Eaton

Ellie Eaton

Ellie Eaton is a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Observer and Time Out. Former Writer-in-Residence at a men’s prison in the UK, she holds an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and was awarded a Kerouac Project residency. Born and raised in England, she now lives in Los Angeles with her family. The Divines is her first novel.


About Lori

Avid reader. Contributor to The Candid Cover. Educator.

21 thoughts on “The Divines by Ellie Eaton

  1. Angela says:

    It’s funny to think of the 1990s as being in the past, but it was 30 years ago! It’s a dual timeline that I think a lot of us can relate to.

  2. Sara @ Sara In Bookland says:

    I’m planning on reading Normal People during February so I’ll get to know if The Divines could be my cup of tea, although I already like the sound of it. I find books with unlikeable to be really challenging but in a positive way, kind of a way to explore everything you don’t want to become.

    Great review!
    Sara @ Sara In Bookland

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