The Girls is this summer’s hottest, hyped new novel. Rumour has it Emma Cline was paid $2 million for this novel. And she’s only 27. Of course I had to have a read.
And for the most part, it justifies the hype. The girl can write.
It is the summer of 1969 in California. Evie is a fourteen, hanging out in dusty playgrounds. Her path crosses with the eponymous girls, including their charismatic ringleader Susanne. Evie gets sucked into the whirlpool of a glamorous and dangerous cult; all sex, drugs, and incense swirling around a communal ranch.
Some of this is pretty sensational and lurid, as you’d expect from a book about a Manson style cult. The best bits are those that focus on Sophie’s female relationships; with her mother, her father’s new lover, the teenage girl she encounters as a middle aged woman, and of course Susanne. Cult leader Russell is almost incidental to all this.
We’ve all experienced bullying group dynamics, the pain of being dropped by a friend and feeling uncomfortable in your skin. Cline captures what it is to grow up an insecure teenage girl, all in gorgeous prose.
Irrespective of the summer of love and killer cults, these things are universal.
Read: To remember what it is to feel like an unsure teenager