Stella by Helen Eve
I knew from the very beginning that I was not the target demographic for this, the first novel from Helen Eve. I came across it because Helen is an alumnus of the MA Creative Writing course where I work.On the face of it, this is a story of girls’ adolescence at a public school, but it is more than that. It begins with an epitaph taken from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations that quotes Estella Haversham, and the similarities between that character and this book’s lead, Stella Hamilton, are obvious. We are even told, explicitly and directly, in the first page that we are not to like our title character.
For myself the book does lurch between chapters that detail the minutia of girls’ lives at a Public boarding school and the politics that ensue when new girl Caitlin arrives from New York, to other chapters of genuine mystery and intrigue that hint of something darker.
References to Great Expectations continue, but I felt that the book owed a lot too, to Dangerous Liaisons and its modern-day Hollywood retelling that is Cruel Intentions. The book was a very powerfully written, accomplished tale that despite not being my usual cup of tea, I did enjoy.