Published: February 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5
St. John the Divine was an elite all-girls boarding school. Generations of women from the same families attended this school. Bad attitudes and misbehaving was the norm. No one respected or listened to the teachers and no one feared any consequences. They called themselves The Divines.
Josephine, now in her thirties hasn’t spoken to another divine since the school shut its doors after a scandal rocked the community. But a recent visit to the area on her honeymoon stirs up memories and emotions about those days and there are more bad than good.
It also starts affecting her marriage and her career. It turns out that what she remembers about her time at the school is not the whole story and little by little the truth is revealed.
This book tackles a number of different issues that teenagers deal with. From peer pressure, bullying, exploring sexuality, toxic relationships.
As well as strained relationships between teenagers and parents.
This story was different to what I was expecting and was more of a coming-of-age story than mystery.
“I put my head down.
Kept on walking.
Never looking them in the eye.
They were townies. I was Divine.”
Each student comes from a long history of Divines, their mothers and grandmothers were Divines as well.
They think that because they come from money and are privileged, that they can act in any way they like. They think they can say what they want and do what they want without consequences.
They are rude and disrespectful to the teachers.
The can be terribly mean to one another and there is also the divide between the towns people or ‘Townies’ as they call them and the Divines.
The Divines come from well-off families and the towns people rely on them to keep their economy afloat. The girls spend their money at their shops. Some of the towns people work as maintenance people at the school.
Narrated by Josephine, It alternates between the present with Josephine as an adult and the past when she was still at school.
I didn’t really connect with Jo as a character, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the overall story. I don’t expect to love every character in the books I read and I think if that did happen, it wouldn’t be as exciting. Even the though it was such a long time ago, Jo seems almost obsessed with her school days and she is clearly still haunted by her past. Even though she is married and has a child, she can’t seem to move past what happened while she was at school.
I think it’s interesting how different people interpret the same situation and you learn that the way Jo remembers the past is different to those of her peers.
It made me think of my own high school career and how I remember it and how it might differ to my peers.
That ending was also not what I was expecting and it wasn’t always a comfortable read. Some parts are quite detailed and raw so be warned. There’s no sugar-coating, but it was utterly engrossing. Overall, I enjoyed this unique debut novel, it was unlike anything I have ever read before and I look forward to what Ellie has in store for the future 😊
Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.