Author: Ellie Eaton

Narrator: Imogen Church

Publication Date: January 19, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Description

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.

Book Review

The Divines by Ellie Eaton is a great novel about a girl’s boarding school and the woman one of the girls grows up to be.

The Divines is the story of Josephine. Josephine is a married woman. On her honeymoon she runs into someone that knows her from high school. She went to St. Joseph the Divine, an all-girl elite British boarding school. This causes Josephine to think of old memories from The Divine. The story alternates between the past at The Divine and the present in Los Angeles.

The Divine is full of mean girls. Josephine (Jo) is a member of a mean girl clique that picks on her roommate, Jerry. Jo ends up becoming friends with someone outside the Divine which causes her to be an outcast.

I really enjoyed The Divines. It is a coming of age novel where the main character experienced every possible problem imaginable. The story also discusses Jo’s problems in adulthood. The Divines really focuses on what happened in the past and how that affects Jo in the present.

There are so many lies and rules broken in The Divines. The girls all go by nicknames that could be boy’s names. Jo experiments with her sexuality. The girls have their first sexual experiences. Drinking, smoking, sex, and the morning after pill are all present in The Divines.

The Divines demonstrates the differences between different classes. The elite boarding school is full of rich people. When Jo starts hanging out off campus, she discovers how less wealthy people live.

I loved the format of The Divines switching between past and present. Eaton does a great job showing the reader how Jo’s past actions affect her all these years later. Mistakes Jo made in boarding school affect her marriage even though she hasn’t told her husband about her past.

The Divines is an enjoyable book that teaches the reader about human nature at the same time. Sometimes instead of learning from their mistakes, people are haunted by their past.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Imogen Church and loved her narration. Imogen is one of my favorite narrators and she did a great job narrating The Divines.

Thank you NetGalley and Harper Audio/William and Morrow for The Divines. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

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.

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18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Divines

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