Rarely if ever do I find a novel winning me over not just in a few pages, but still holding me rapt and fascinated by the last pages. I am the hardest member of the book club to appease. This novel was hyped beyond belief. This was a first novel for Emma Cline and I should only hope that even one sentence of a book I write would be a fraction as good as her work. While the biggest detraction I can speak of for Ms. Cline is that her writing is so hypnotizing that you almost forget the story. The descriptions are utterly effortless. The main character isn’t instantly likable, but I was drawn to her just the same.
The novel follows, through time, the travails of Evie, a young girl who somehow gets caught up in a cult in an act of defiance to her estranged parents. That brief sentence doesn’t do justice to the journey that the reader and Evie take as she meets a trio of wayward girls, then a cult leader. Evie portrays the poor little rich girl with ease, yet you soon discover she is not nearly as content as she could be. Her life is anything but a fairytale and when she catches sight of a striking young woman, everything changes. The author turns the crush of Evie for another woman seem like it is perfectly natural. The attraction wasn’t evident from the beginning, but as the closing pages come, it is clear that Evie is still enamored with the aloof Suzanne, even after all the tragedy that surrounded them.
I would hate to spoil what was a not entirely surprising, but very well written story. In some cases, books are written beautifully, but the stories aren’t always enthralling. In this instance, Ms. Cline wrote a terrifyingly beautiful book from beginning to end. I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote a book I really enjoyed. The prose was masterful. Every word was chosen with care and it shows. I have never given a book five stars, but this one was an easy choice to give that honor to. This book may not be for everyone, based on the content, but you’d be depriving yourself of one of the best written books from a modern author.