Eleanor Catton - The Rehearsal (4 stars)

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Eleanor Catton - The Rehearsal

(Granta)

Eleanor Catton’s debut novel is a labyrinthine tale of a high school sex scandal, exploring the ways in which it becomes part of the pupils’ lives and is purloined by students at the nearby drama school who use it for their end of term play. The premise – sex scandal in a high school – isn’t particularly original, but the way Catton manipulates the theme and weaves the parallel storylines together, provides it with a new narrative and slant.

Written without the clichés associated with depictions of teenagers – there are no X Factor-esque divas at drama school or embarrassing attempts at teenage speak – this is tangled and intense, sinking into the teenage psyche in a striking depiction. That has to be a place in which you want to spend hours, though, because the book is an immersion in teenagers, their every thought, interplay and feeling.

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