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Published by Flatiron Books on October 4th 2016
“A first novel whose tone echoes that of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides…This phenomenal, character-driven story is mesmerizing.” --Library Journal (starred review)
To four girls who have nothing, their friendship is everything: they are each other’s confidants, teachers, and family. The girls are all named Guinevere—Vere, Gwen, Ginny, and Win—and it is the surprise of finding another Guinevere in their midst that first brings them together. They come to The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration convent by different paths, delivered by their families, each with her own complicated, heartbreaking story that she safeguards. Gwen is all Hollywood glamour and swagger; Ginny is a budding artiste with a sentiment to match; Win’s tough bravado isn’t even skin deep; and Vere is the only one who seems to be a believer, trying to hold onto her faith that her mother will one day return for her. However, the girls are more than the sum of their parts and together they form the all powerful and confident The Guineveres, bound by the extraordinary coincidence of their names and girded against the indignities of their plain, sequestered lives.
The nuns who raise them teach the Guineveres that faith is about waiting: waiting for the mail, for weekly wash day, for a miracle, or for the day they turn eighteen and are allowed to leave the convent. But the Guineveres grow tired of waiting. And so when four comatose soldiers from the War looming outside arrive at the convent, the girls realize that these men may hold their ticket out.
In prose shot through with beauty, Sarah Domet weaves together the Guineveres’ past, present, and future, as well as the stories of the female saints they were raised on, to capture the wonder and tumult of girlhood and the magical thinking of young women as they cross over to adulthood.
The blurb is what really captivated me to pick up this book. Four girls, all named Guinevere, all abandoned by their families at the Sisters of the Supreme Adoration. Sounds interesting? Yes, it does. However the story was an odd one and after reading it I felt a little off.
There are a lot of layers within this story. The writing was good but also confusing. I couldn’t quite place what time the book took place in. There were no historical markers other than war (I’m assuming Vietnam/Korean?) to place the time. With each chapter it became more and more confusing. The story is also told from Vere’s point of view, and while her voice felt authentic and unique, I still didn’t really understand her.
A good debut and an interesting premise, but I’m not sure if I’ll pick up another Domet book in the future.