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Gossip of the Starlings Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 10, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this poignant novel, de Gramont explores a loyal and destructive friendship between two girls at a New England prep school. Catherine Morrow, the book's relatable protagonist, can't believe her luck when Skye, the popular daughter of acclaimed senator Douglas Butterfield, befriends her. A symbol of idealistic American wholesomeness, Skye is quick to push the boundaries at the Esther Percy School, and soon she joins Catherine in a blur of drunken nights and cocaine binges. But as Catherine cleans up and focuses on school work and extracurricular activities, Skye spirals deeper into her addiction and has an affair with a teacher. Despite Catherine's efforts, she can't untangle herself from Skye's daring escapades, and soon the girls are again involved in dangerous situations. Though Catherine warns the reader of the story's tragic finale from the opening chapters, the ending still reverberates with heartbreak. De Gramont's coming-of-age story distinguishes itself with sincere prose and complex characters.
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Review

"De Gramont skillfully sustains a tension that leads to an explosive ending while providing us with characters that go well beyond many recent examples of upper-crust East Coast teenage life. Think Donna Tartt and Bret Easton Ellis with the wisdom of hindsight....A compelling coming-of-age novel....[Gossip of the Starlings] excels in its honest depiction of the interrelationships among teens and with their families and circumstances."—Library Journal


"The kind of smart and riveting read that fans of a certain kind of campus drama—think Donna Tartt's The Secret History — will devour...There's romance, betrayal, a gorgeous scholarship boy and a spot-on rendering of the queasy regret you sometimes feel when friends from separate orbits meet. Grab this one and share it with your teenage daughter.” —People, four stars


"It's a rare book that draws you into the tiny, idiosyncratic world of its characters so completely, and de Gramont’s descriptions are often so vivid you'll want to give them a closer read...grade: A-."—The Washington Post




"Sparkles with an intense exuberance . . . it trumps Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace...Gossip of the Starlings will join that shelf reserved for literary classics." —Providence Sunday Journal


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,257,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nina de Gramont is the author of a collection of short stories, Of Cats and Men, and the co-editor of an anthology, Choice. Her novel, Gossip of the Starlings, was published in 2008, and she has also written a young adult novel, Every Little Thing in the World. Nina's work has appeared in Redbook, Seventeen, Exquisite Corpse, post road, Isotope, and the Harvard Review.

Learn more about Nina at www.ninadegramont.com


Customer Reviews

Two main words for this story - confusing, frustrating.
PattiesZone
Additionally, the characters sometimes act too old for their age - it reads more like they are 30 instead of 16 in spots.
nashvillegirl
I thought I was in for a shocking tragic read, it was more sad and not totally unexpected based on the premise.
Mint910

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By TexReader on July 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading glowing reviews from other readers regarding "Of Cats and Men," I picked up a copy and was pleasantly surprised by de Gramont's talent and prose. I'm still in awe of the author's writing skill after reading "Gossip of the Starlings," but the tale failed to strike any feeling in me other than irritation. Not that the author loses her beautiful, lyrical voice in this endeavor; she doesn't. But my sentiments echo those of a previous reviewer in that it wasn't at all entertaining to read about wealthy, spoiled, self-indulgent girls with nothing better to do than snort cocaine and, in the case of one character, actively and consciously behave in self-destructive ways while seeming righteously aggrieved by the fallacies of those around her and being coldly cynical as a result. High praise indeed for Nina de Gramont's prose, but this tale left me dissatisfied.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Jacobs on July 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The best book I've read in years - de Gramont's writing is stunning, gorgeous, and she captures the struggles of being a teenager - ANY teenager - brilliantly. I may not have gone to prep school, but I know these girls, I know these feelings, the alienation, the acceptance, the dazzling friend who you love and hate at the same time. There are sentences in this book that I had to read three times in a row - and I still didn't stop reading until the whole beautiful and tragic story was done. If you want to read a book that will keep you talking, that will take you back in time and then make you pick up the phone to say YOU HAVE TO READ THIS! then get this book. Brilliant.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. S. on August 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A friend gave me this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it and identified with the characters (although it's been a while since I was a kid.) It captures that fleeting, shared sense between teenage girlfriends that you are immortal. And I didn't find the characters' wealth distracting or alienating. It functions mostly just to allow these girls to take greater risks, which ups the stakes, which kept me interested.

I never had a pony, either; but I don't hold it against a fictional character that she rides horses. Bloody _Catcher in the Rye_ begins at prep school.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bill Kupersmith on August 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
School stories have fascinated me since I first encountered Tom Brown's School Days as a child and I have always since regarded the opportunity to go away to boarding school as one of the great experiences of my life, although hardly anywhere could have been less like Dr. Arnold's Rugby than my own prep school in Connecticut. I think the key to one's fascination with one's school days rests in the word formation. Unlike an American high school, which may with luck offer an education, a boarding school forms character. As an older character in in Nina de Gramont's Gossip of Starlings remarks of his school: "Best time of my life. Uniforms, school ties, chapel every morning before classes. Lights out by ten. They didn't let us make single unscheduled move. Which is its won king of freedom. Limits force you to be creative--teach you how to be yourself while playing by the rules." Of course most of the rules a school teaches its pupils to play by--what the English call "to play up and play the game"--often turn out to be quite contrary to those of the adult world, a major theme in both George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman and Simon Raven's Alms for Oblivion series.
This novel is set in a girls school in Vermont. Charlotte Morrow, the narrator, recounts her friendship with the beautiful and destructive Skye Butterfield, daughter of a charismatic United States senator. Charlotte is a budding equestrienne who appears headed for Madison Square Garden, as well as at least Middlebury or Cornell. Skye quotes gobs of Shakespeare, as well as appearing to be an environmentalist activist who exposes the political hypocrisy of her father, who is also having an affair with a member of his campaign staff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Russell S. Woodward on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. Nina De Gramont captures the desperate, intense emotions that overwhelm all of us (male, female, rich, and poor) as we struggle through adolescence. A great book for anyone who enjoys a compelling story, beautifully told. Read it now, before the movie comes out!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nashvillegirl VINE VOICE on December 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. It has a lot of promising elements - prep schools, wealthy teenage troublemakers, horses and horse shows, drug abuse, and intense friendships. Unfortunately, for me, the book's flaws took away from its story.

The book opens at Esther Percy, a prep school for girls that the main character, Catherine, is now attending after being pulled out of her original school, Waverly, after being found in bed with her boyfriend. Catherine develops an intense friendship with Skye Butterfield, the daughter of a prominent senator and a character that is always looking for a new adventure, whether it be sneaking out, trying drugs, planning weekend trips without the permission of the school, an affair with a teacher, or joining protests against her father's plans to break a campaign promise. We see Catherine join and help Skye on some of these adventures - Skye is described as having a pull that Catherine can't resist - and we meet Catherine's friends and boyfriends from her previous school. Catherine is also a dedicated horsewoman who has tried for years to qualify for the National Horse Show, and we see her attempting to attain that goal. Sometimes, the book switches to a point of view other than Catherine's - for example, the trip to Venezula for drugs is done through the eyes of Susannah, Catherine's best friend. I won't spoil the ending, but the book culminates in a dramatic drug bust and a death, with the last pages showing Catherine reflecting on these events after she is married and has given birth.

Good points: some beautifully written passages, especially with the horse show scenes and the descriptions of the Cape and Venezula. The author clearly put a lot of thought and research into these passages.
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