Review: The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton


The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton

The Rehearsal

Title: The Rehearsal

Author: Eleanor Catton

Release Date: May 17, 2008

Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 320

Source: City of Literature Class

All the world’s a stage – and nowhere is it that more true than at an all-girls high school, particularly one where a scandal has just erupted. When news spreads of a high school teacher’s relationship with his underage student, participants and observers alike soon take part in an elaborate show of concern and dismay. But beneath the surface of the teenage girls’ display, there simmers a new awareness of their own power. They obsessively examine the details of the affair with the curiosity, jealousy, and approbation native to any adolescent girl, under the watchful eye of their stern and enigmatic saxophone teacher, whose focus may not be as strictly on their upcoming recital as she implies.

5 out of 5 stars


I loved this book. I was so pleasantly surprised about this and I REALLY want to read more from this author. For my class I had to write a book review about the book, so I’m just going to copy and paste that here…. :)

In Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, The Rehearsal, two storylines are followed that eloquently and seamlessly blend together throughout the novel. Catton, an author from Canada, studied English at the University of Canterbury and completed her Master’s degree in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. The Rehearsal is Catton’s master’s thesis for her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

The Rehearsal opens with a saxophone teacher talking with a parent about her daughter during music lessons. This conversation quickly unfolds and becomes the basis of the first storyline. During a music lesson with the saxophone teacher the main character, Isolde, is introduced. Isolde makes an excuse about not practicing for her lesson by confiding in her teacher that her older sister, Victoria, was raped by the instrumental music teacher at their high school, Mr. Saladin.

Many of the students that went to school with Victoria and Isolde made it apparent that the relationship between Victoria and Mr. Saladin was consensual. The students claimed to have seen the couple together on multiple occasions, and it is later found out that the two are still seeing each other. Because there was a news story leaked about the inappropriate relations between teacher and student, Isolde and some of Victoria’s friends are required to go to counselling sessions with the school’s guidance counselor to talk about what happened. Isolde meets a girl named Julia at the counselling sessions and they form a friendship.

The second storyline opens with a first-year college student named Stanley auditioning for the Institute for drama. He wants to become an actor, and going to this Institute is his dream. He goes through the audition process and learns that he gets into the school. The first-year drama students have to put on a show with no help from professors, and decide to take the local news story about the relationship between Victoria and Mr. Saladin and turn it into a play.

Isolde and Stanley meet and start dating; Isolde is fifteen and Stanley is eighteen. A few short weeks later Stanley gets called into one of his instructor’s offices and is questioned about his relationship with Isolde. The saxophone teacher saw that the two were forming a relationship and was concerned about Isolde’s safety. Stanley brings it up to Isolde and the two have a fight about it. To try and not make Stanley angrier, she invites her parents to go to the first-year student play with her. Neither she nor her parents know that the play is based off the affair with Victoria and Mr. Saladin. After watching the play, Isolde and Stanley’s families get together to talk about it and its content…

I was pleasantly surprised by this book because the first few chapters were quite slow and confusing with the different stories. While reading the beginning I was distracted by the fact that the language used in conversations was unrealistic. There were too many metaphors and large words to be a real conversation between high schoolers, but as the story progressed, so did the writing style. The Rehearsal has strong themes of sexuality, and there are many references to being lesbian or gay.

The main character Isolde is uncertain about her sexuality and uses Stanley and Julia to experiment to see if she likes men, women, or both genders. The saxophone teacher, who never gets a name throughout the novel, is also represented as lesbian, which put a unique twist on the story which I was not expecting.

The saxophone teacher had fantasies about one of her friends who she has been in love with, and places herself and her female students in her fantasies as well. This reminded me of the relationship between Victoria and Mr. Saladin. I thought it was interesting with different ways Catton used sexuality and intimacy throughout the novel.

Stanley and his fellow first-year students also dealt with sexuality and gender roles during the play they wrote and performed. One of the objectives with the play was to use a prop chosen by last year’s students to use as a main theme or motif to guide the play. The object was a deck of cards, so they spun that into drawing cards at certain points of your life in order to determine sexuality and gender. This was beautifully explained during the brainstorming process of figuring out what to make their play about.

One of my favorite things about this book was the fluidity of time. During the first storyline, the sections were broken up by days of the week, where in the second storyline they were broken up by months. My interpretation of this was that time passes differently at different ages. Because you haven’t experienced much life when you’re young, every single day seems long and monotonous, but as you get older time seems to go faster. It doesn’t seem like you break it up into days or weeks even, but months or periods of your life.

There was also fluidity with time in the sense that some scenes were repeated but from another perspective. Because time was represented differently in both the storylines, there were some discrepancies between when events actually occurred. It gave the reader a sense of knowing more than the characters, and that made the reader want to continue reading to find out when every person would find out information.

The characters in this novel were beautifully broken, and made you want to know everything about them. All the characters were struggling with something different, but didn’t know the best way to deal with their problems. Some of the opinions they brought to the foreground of the story made me really have to think about what I was reading, and how I felt about the issues they were bringing up.

I am extremely impressed with Eleanor Catton as this is her debut novel. The themes that were discussed were talked about eloquently and fit together with the whole story wonderfully. As I read I try and make predictions about the way a story is going to go, and I couldn’t seem do that with this. Every page contained something new and interesting that added to the story. Overall I enjoyed this book immensely, and I look forward to reading more works from Catton in the future.

Review: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha Shannon


The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)

Author: Samantha Shannon

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 466

Source: TBR Pile

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

5 out of 5 stars


Why did it take me so long to pick this book up?! I knew that it was going to be amazing, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I did a buddy-read with Kenedie from afangirlsbookshelf on Youtube and we both really loved it. We emailed our thoughts after every chapter and there was so much to talk about with this book! I loved so much about this book I don’t even know where to start…

This story follows Paige who is working with a group of clairvoyants in Scion London in 2059. The voyants are in danger because no one wants them to be living in London, so they have to hide their gifts in order to survive. Paige and her crew are all rare voyants, and Paige is a dream walker. She can connect with the aether and see inside people’s dreamscapes. All is well until she gets captured by the Rephaim and taken to Oxford. She has to learn to live with the Rephs and find out how to leave safely. She learns to trust those around her in order to survive…

Again, this book was AMAZING. I just want to read the whole entire series, and plan on reading the books that are out as soon as possible. It’s been awhile since I’ve wanted to read a whole series back to back, but I just need to know what happens next!

The characters in this story were so interesting and so unique. Every person in this book had their own voice and their own personality, and I feel as though that’s hard to come by sometimes. I loved Paige as a character. It’s crazy to think she’s only 19… Umm that’s only a year older than me… I’m impressed with her.

The plot was so intricately written, and there are plenty of opportunities for old scenes to be explained in the future novels. The writing style kind of reminded me of Cassandra Clare. I was hooked the second I started reading this book, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the books!

Series:

The Pale Dreamer (The Bone Season #0.5)

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3)

On the Merits of Unnaturalness (The Bone Season)