I was drawn to this book from the moment I saw the cover. It’s haunting, unfocused view of a building seen through a broken window brought to mind vague associations that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Later, I had an “ah-ha” moment while reading.
This is the first book I’ve read by Simone St. James. Not only the cover drew me to it, but the excitement of online book buddies that this author had a new book coming out made me sit up and take notice.
Book description from the publisher:
Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .
Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.
When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .
In novels that go back and forth in time with two storylines, I often feel that one of the storylines gets short shrifted or is simply a tool for some aspect of the other story. This is not the case in The Broken Girls. Both storylines are full, interesting stories in their own right. The two storylines become gently intertwined in the beginning and are both written with such care that the growing crescendo of each results in two climaxes that join together in a satisfying conclusion.
The story of the four roommates in the 1950s really captured my imagination. I hate to say much about them because I don’t want to ruin any of the natural unfolding of the novel. Fiona’s struggle with her boyfriend, who happens to be a cop, also can’t be commented upon too much without giving away some things the reader is best off encountering in the pages of the book. In other words, go out and buy it or get it from your library today.
The Broken Girls is part mystery, part suspense, part coming of age, and part ghost story. Along the way are the stories of five fantastic girls/women, all of whom I missed when I finished reading. There are some male characters, but they’re somewhat secondary to the main action. And I must add that St. James does an excellent job of incorporating historical events and circumstances in a way that is brutal, yet seemingly realistic and truthful.
I loved this book and will definitely seek out more novels from Simone St. James.
Thanks to the publisher, Berkley, I’m happy to announce a giveaway of this novel!
Giveaway rules: If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Broken Girls, please leave a comment below expressing your interest. If your comment does not link back to an account through which I can contact you, kindly leave your email address or Twitter name in the comments so that I may reach you should you win. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. A random winner will be chosen on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 8 am ET. Good luck!
Title: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley, Penguin Random House. On sale date: March 20, 2018
Source: Review copy
Bottom Line: A fast-paced story that’ll pull you in and keep you turning the pages in curiosity mingled with a little fear. Great for readers who like suspenseful crime fiction mixed with some history and a little paranormal activity.