Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld

I would say that easily 50% of my library (available for viewing on has come from charity shops. For €10-20 euros, and a bit of luck, you can come home with a bagful of books, as well as helping some good causes. Generally, I look for authors that I like, and occasionally will pull out a novel that's new to me. It's a bit of pick and mix really. Pot luck.

Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep is one of those pot luck novels. Despite the critical acclaim and good reviews, I don't ever recollect seeing it in any of the bookstores or shops that I go to.

Lee Fiora is a scholarship student at Ault, a prestigious East Coast boarding school in USA. The book charts her 4 year journey of self-discovery at Ault, but the glorious part of her self-discovery is contained in the fact that that main character is narrating the events many years after they happen. Experience allows her to look back on her teenage self and see the events for what they truly were.

This is a true coming of age novel - but weirldly the character doesn't come of age during the narration of events - it's only by hearing the grown-up narrator's comments that you realise that she has matured. The novel really does capture the yearning for conformity and acceptance that many teenagers struggle with. Ultimately, the main character is a normal person with normal talent and this is her major appeal to the reader.

I've seen critics place this book with Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" - to me this is better. It's more accessible, more down to earth and more honest. Truly recommended.

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