Title: The Girls – Emma Cline
Publisher: Random House
Date: June 2016
Available from: Amazon
Set between 1969 and 2015 (ish, I think), The Girls follows Evelyn (or Evie) as she reflects on one Summer she spent effectively as part of a cult. The story is loosely based on the Manson murders and I must say, the cover is deceptive.
The jacket of this book makes it look like a chick lit fiction novel and honestly, that’s so not the case. The narrative is dreamy like the whole thing is seen through that haze on the horizon you can see on a hot day. But the approach to the subject matter is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Evie becomes enraptured by a tall, dark-haired girl called Susanne that she spots one day outside a convenience store digging through garbage. Susanne is part of a group that lives on a ranch run by a guy called Russell.
Although the basis for the group living at the ranch is the obsession with Russell, the novel actually pays more attention to the relationship between Evie and Susanne which I really enjoyed. Psychos that trick women to do bad things has been done to death, everyone knows Manson is a psychopath.
Personally, I think every woman should read this book, it’s a beautiful representation of female relationships and how deeply they can affect you. Women can have just as powerful an effect on each other as men can on them. Whether you’re a gay woman or not, sometimes your admiration for another woman can be likened to unrequited love and the heartbreak that goes with it.
Cline actually covers the female need for love perfectly in the novel when she says,
“Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.”
As I am somewhat of a 21st-century hippie, I like the comparison between the weed smoke in Evie’s youth and a discussion she overhears about different strains and growing practices.
“Greenhouse yield vs. sun-grown. Comparing THC levels in varying strains. This was nothing like the hobby drugs of my youth, pot grown alongside tomato plants, passed around in mason jars.”
The novel flashes between the 21st century and the 60’s so this is but a small segment of novel showing how the dream of the hippie died with John Lennon.
However, the two things that frustrated me were Evie’s weakness and the unsatisfactory ending. Evie, possibly as a result of her experiences, during a vulgar present day scene does nothing to shield a vulnerable girl in a difficult situation. It had me practically wailing in frustration.
Similarly, the book appears to end quite abruptly. There’s no satisfactory round up which, I suppose works with the theme. Evie is an unsatisfied, incomplete soul so perhaps her inability to act and the sudden ending is tied to her character.
All I can say to round this off is please read this book, it’s a phenomenal piece of artwork that all women need in their lives.