Gossip of the Starlings

Gossip of the Starlings

by Nina De Gramont


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When Catherine Morrow is admitted to the Esther Percy School for Girls, it's on the condition that she reform her ways. But that's before the charismatic and beautiful Skye Butterfield, daughter of the famous Senator Butterfield, chooses Catherine for her best friend. Skye is a young woman hell-bent on a trajectory of self-destruction, and she doesn't care who is taken down with her. No matter the transgression—a stolen credit card, a cocaine binge, an affair with a teacher, an accident that precipitates the end of Catherine's promising riding career—Catherine can neither resist Skye's spell nor stop her downward spiral.

De Gramont's chilling novel is a portrait of an adolescent girl so thoroughly seduced by a peer that she willingly follows her to ruin. Caught in a world that is both appealing and astonishing, these young women are sexual beings with the minds of teenagers: willful, selfish, daring, and cruel—all the while believing they're utterly indestructible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565125650
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 05/28/2008
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

Nina de Gramont is the author of the collection Of Cats and Men, which was a Book Sense selection and won a Discovery award from the New England Booksellers Association. Her fiction has appeared in Seventeen, Nerve, post road, and Exquisite Corpse. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter.

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Gossip of the Starlings 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nina de Gramont is a master story-teller. The portrayal of adolescence, and girlhood in particular, in this novel is searing, brutal, and lovely. And, best of all, behind the poetry and humor, there is the quiet and sure and compelling mind of a writer who is infinitely trust-worthy. Loved, loved, loved it.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Catherine Morrow, a student at Esther Percy School for Girls, a boarding school in Vermont, is befriended by Skye Butterfield, the beautiful daughter of a Massachusetts senator. Catherine¿s closest friends, Suzannah and John Paul, feel crowded out by Skye¿s presence. This situation is menacingly aggravated by this group of friends¿ pranks and drug use.At first, I felt that I couldn¿t relate to the story. After all, it was a story about wealthy, risk-taking, drug-abusing high school students. The story from the outset seemed unsettling. It was the author¿s beautiful and intelligent prose, however, which engaged me. I realized that there was more to this story than my first impression. Having been drawn in especially by its psychology, the story presented a picture of something ominous. Throughout reading the entire book, that feeling remained. Moving through the story, I began to see a deeper layer of narration. I was taken in by a story of teenagers¿ travails ¿ dealing with parents, accepting authority, setting priorities, learning about friendship, and developing one¿s own moral place in the world. These are all universal themes to which anyone can relate.As I allowed myself to accept the characters as they were, I was rewarded with the feeling that I really knew them despite their shortcomings. This made the story much richer for me and engaged me emotionally to the end.I definitely like the author¿s writing style and would recommend this book to others. I think this story would be especially interesting to people who¿ve already enjoyed such books as John Green¿s Looking for Alaska or Curtis Settenfield¿s Prep.
Voracious_Reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gossip of the Starlings I liked more than I thought I would, but not as much as I had hoped. In haiku:Young woman at schoolCorrupted by her best friendSurvives, very sad.It was a very quick read and was moderately entertaining. I found it very difficult to like or sympathize with many of the characters. It was sort of like watching a car crash in slow motion: you don't want to look, but you can't help yourself. The author had an uncanny ability to keep a dark tension throughout. Imagine boarding schools full of kids who have far too much freedom, time, money and lack any sense of morality (I mean both the students and the schools).
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was both good, and not good. The good was that de Gramont does a great job of weaving this story of tragic youth. The story moved easily, and was believable for the timeframe (today, I¿m sure the drug of choice would be something different). The not good part of the story was that I struggled to connect with either Catherine or Skye, a couple of spoiled rich girls who go through their lives without any real serious thought of the people around them. I was able to sympathize a bit with Catherine by the end, since she seems like she¿s trying to change her path, but when everything comes crashing down, it¿s hard to feel sorry for her. Sometimes it¿s hard to tell who was more drawn to who. In Catherine, Skye finds the rebellion she¿d been struggling to find, and in Skye, Catherine finds the loyalty she¿s searched for. Really, I felt most sorry for those who were trampled in their path.
miriamparker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just divine! The perfect combination of gorgeous writing and a fun plot. Plus, it's a boarding school story! Fantastic. Highly recommend!!!
goldiebear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was hoping for a little more depth in this book, but I still really enjoyed it. I was hoping for a little more of something like The Secret History and this didn't quite compare. However, the language was beautiful. This was wonderfully written. I had a hard time with the whole Latin American undertone and could have done without it. It just didn't quite seem to fit in with the rest of the story to me. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.
curvymommy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first glance, I figured this book was yet another story about rich kids run wild at their New England boarding schools. Which is not necessarily a bad thing - I do enjoy those types of books.But this one was different. Even though the main characters were rich and privileged, it wasn't in an annoying way - more like it was just a fact that was secondary to the story. The main character, Catherine, had many layers that made her more than just a cookie-cutter rich teen. Her relationships with her parents, her friends, her boyfriend, and her horse were deep and true. And the ending wasn't a happily-ever-after ending, yet it completely fit with the rest of the novel and was actually quite satisfying.The author has a lyrical, soothing writing style that propelled the story forward - this is a beautifully written novel. A quick read that will keep you engrossed. I even read it in the car while waiting in an exceptionally long drive-thru line at lunch! I highly recommend this novel - go read it! :)
RoxieF on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story starts at an all girl private school with a new student , Catherine. She was yanked from her old school for breaking the rules. Her father thought an all girl school would be better for her. She is befriended by a famous Senator's daughter, Skye. They both have their own problems and are bad influences on each other. They feel indestructible, and you just know something bad is going to happen. While I found some of the story unbelievable and felt no empathy for the characters (I thought they were all spoiled over-indulged brats), it was like a train wreck. I just couldn't look away until I got to the end.
jnavia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Adolescence is a time of questioning rules, testing rules, breaking rules and creating one¿s own rules. Catherine, a sixteen-year-old equestrian and prep-school student, has worked all her life toward showing in the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden. In regional summer circuit shows, she places first or second, but each year fails to rank in the fall indoor show, the one that would qualify her for the National show. It¿s now Catherine¿s next-to-last year to qualify. After being severely disciplined at one exclusive boarding prep school where her best friend and boyfriend continue to board, Catherine and her horse, Pippin, are now boarding at the Esther Percy School for Girls. There she meets Skye Butterfield, the lanky, beautiful daughter of popular, charismatic Senator Douglas Butterfield. Skye had recently been in the news for breaking rules at her prep school. Catherine and Skye are immediately drawn to each other and become fast friends. Intending no harm, their year is spent taking cocaine and otherwise bending and breaking the rules of the school, of their parents, of their peers, and of society. Skye, previously sheltered, because of her father¿s political career, seems unaware of the increasingly harmful consequences her escalating recklessness causes to herself and those around her. de Gramont develops each of the young characters in Gossip of the Starlings fully. The students¿ parents make only a few appearances, but de Gramont skillfully uses these appearances to distinguish how each of the students ¿ Catherine, Skye, Susannah and John Paul ¿ matured uniquely in response to their parental influences. For the most part, the plot is believable. A quick marital breakup based on unreliable hearsay may have been a stretch to further the plot. Except for that minor flaw, Nina de Gramont has written a suspenseful portrayal of Catherine, a young woman growing away from childhood poems, best friends, and dreams of equestrian glory into the world of adulthood, where devastating consequences of heedless behavior need more than a mother¿s forgiving touch to soothe the pain. Suspense is built slowly and subtly until the chilling end. Gossip of the Starlings is an excellent debut novel from a young writer.
kmoellering on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first opportunity at reading an advanced copy as part of the LibraryThing early reviewer system, so I was VERY EXCITED to get my copy. The subject was appealing to me, I am a sucker for prep school stories. The setting was also appealing, I recognized these privileged girls from the early 80s with their attitudes about money, school, drugs and boys. I had a little trouble getting into the story, but when I did, it was a fun read. It was a more serious book than I first thought, and many of the themes are extremely relevant today. Particularly, the relationship between Skye (a Senator's daughter) and her famous, charming father. This was the saddest and most interesting part of the book. In today's fishbowl society where we all know way too much about our politician/celebrities and their families. The main character, Catherine, is well developed and makes some choices that readers will cheer about, while others will make readers scream in frustration. But, this fact alone is what makes this book engrossing and believable because we all know this is how teens are! I would recommend this to readers who like stories about family relationships. school themed titles, or people who ride horses, since the main character is a competitive rider.
seph on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's difficult to feel sympathy for privileged, self-absorbed teenagers living largely consequence-free lives of reckless excess. It's also difficult to believe an interesting and insightful narrative could be told through such young and relatively inexperienced eyes. Nina de Gramont manages to evoke the reader's sympathy by telling this story through the older, wiser perception of a narrator reflecting on her younger years and how the things she and her friends took part in created far-reaching repercussions in their lives. I couldn't relate to boarding schools, riding competitions, parent-free weekends in Cape Cod and easy access to recreational drugs, but I could empathize with the universal experiences of growing up; searching for a sense of identity, experiencing the tricky mechanics of relationships and learning that our choices lead to inescapable consequences. Reading this book was like listening to a dear friend's unburdening confession, bearing witness to the narrator's memories as she nostalgically reflects on the subtle and inevitable awakening from care-free childhood to the coming of age that found her and her friends racing at break-neck speed into the accumulated consequences waiting for them. The memories and experiences were nothing like mine and yet there was still a vague familiarity in all that lyrical prose that left me feeling a little nostalgic for my own care-free youth.
amydross on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot of people so far have described the writing in Gossip of the Starlings as "lyrical," and I know what they mean. The book is dotted throughout with lines from actual poems, not to mention the airy, ethereal turns of phrase employed by the author: "imagined freedom radiating like nuclear light," "the shale of bones grinding down like mortar," "the brine off the river primal and fetid," etc. I suppose I can only wish there'd been a bit more substance amid the poetry, for I never got a true feeling for characters, the setting, or the situation. All in all, it felt too much like a grown-up's view of adolescence -- like what a mother imagines her teenage daughter must be thinking. The characters were both too sophisticated (do any sixteen year olds care that much about senatorial elections?) and too innocent (the drug interludes seemed particularly fantastical and romanticized). Worse yet, all the teenage characters were single-mindedly obsessed with punishing, protecting, or procuring the love of their parents -- really, it's just like a parent to assume that children have no other possible thoughts or ambitions.
Monica71 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was OK. It just didn't ever really go anywhere very exciting. maybe it was a bit too juvenile for me. Sneaking around (but usually not even sneaking) getting drunk and high. I just want more substance than that. Maybe I'm just too old.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is definitely a book for the younger female reader. The main characters are prep schoolers.I was hoping to like this book more. There is a lot of sneaking around and boarding school antics. There are horses, drugs and sex. It seema rather formulaic, as if it were made to order for the young teenager. Skye, is a senators daughter, Catherine is the one with the horses and blue ribbons. Susannah is Catherine's sometimes overshadowed best friend. They party, they use coke and pot, and they suffer the usual teenage angst. Then things become sticky, when a jealous lover uses information he has to create legal issues for the senators daughter, and chaos ensues.
Rickmaniac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The writing is taut and crisp. Dialogue outstanding. Subject matter - kids doing drugs and headed for (I think) destruction - can't handle it. I made it to page 78 but have elected to read something else. The characters are too tragic and sad for me.
punkypower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So, my advanced reading copy of Gossip of the Starlings came in last week, I started it Friday, after finishing Lolita. It will be out in June. It tells the story of two girls at an exclusive all-girls' school boarding school. Catherine has been kicked out of her local one on scandal, and is away from her best friend and boyfriend. She meets a senator's daughter, who seems to be the picture of goodness and light. Gossip of the Starlings will definitely become one of the books in my library where I can (ignoring the gigantic to-be-read pile) reread it over and over again, searching and finding new clues. Sure, the boarding school story has been done before. However, Nina de Gramont adds a fantastical undertone. Her characters may be doing wrong and adult things; yet, underneath they innocently clamor for Shel Silverstein and the 100 acre wood. De Gramont writes beautifully. Unlke a lot of books these days, I was able to imagine every scene she set. Her imagery and wording was beautiful and yet simple. It was a great book. I finished quickly, as it was very hard to put down.
Michele on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the whole, I enjoyed this book; de Gramont's writing style is engaging, and the plot moves along quickly. The subplots involving Catherine's equestrian competitions and the trip to Venezuela to buy cocaine were distracting and not very believable, and took away from the main story.
jentifer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A refreshing, updated (though set in the 1980s) look at rich girls at a boarding school. The themes are kind of tired but Ms. de Gramont's writing brings them back to life -- Language is poetic but not overly dense. I was transported back to 16 years old while reading due to Gramont's excellent job of reminding us what teen feels like: friendships that are dearer than family ties, sense of self that is entangled in others, and above all that desperate need to fulfill one's desires, whatever they may be, and whomever must be hurt in the process. Written for adults, but a teen would like it - mature themes (coke, sex, etc.)
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