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Daughters of the Revolutionby Carolyn Cooke
Synopses & Reviews
From the O. Henry Award-winning author of the story collection The Bostons—a New York Times Notable Book, Los Angeles Times Book of the Year and winner of the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers—an exquisite first novel set at a disintegrating New England prep school.
Its 1968. The prestigious but cash-strapped Goode School in the town of Cape Wilde is run by its aging, philandering headmaster, Goddard Byrd, known to both his friends and his enemies as God. With Cape Wilde engulfed by the social and political storms of integration, coeducation and the sexual revolution, God has confidently promised coeducation “over my dead body.” And then, through a clerical error, the Goode School admits its first female student: Carole Faust, a brilliant, intractable fifteen-year-old black girl.
What does it mean to be the First Girl?
Carolyn Cooke has written a ferociously intelligent, richly sensual novel about the lives of girls and women, the complicated desperation of daughters without fathers and the erosion of paternalistic power in an elite New England town on the cusp of radical social change. Remarkable for the precision of its language, the incandescence of its images, and the sly provocations of its moral and emotional predicaments, Daughters of the Revolution is a novel of exceptional force and beauty.
"Cooke's flinty first novel, coming nearly 10 years after her much-acclaimed collection, The Bostons, grapples with another set of crafty New Englanders, all involved, one way or another, with the Goode School of Boston in the late 1960s: head Goddard 'God' Byrd, a seductive male chauvinist of nearly retirement age, is dead set against allowing girls into his beloved institution despite being himself the product of radical New England reformers; Heck, product of 'a brilliant class' at Goode, dies in a suspicious accident at sea while boating with his best friend, Rebozos, widowing his young bride, Mei-Mei; and Heck and Mei-Mei's daughter, EV, becomes an essential narrator, observing her widowed mother's clumsy affair with Byrd, and growing friendly with the first girl admitted to the school in 1969, Carole — the half-black teenage daughter of Rebozos, it turns out. Each of the characters offers his or her own trajectory, moving through the 1970s and into the '80s, from Carole's political and artistic iconoclasm to EV's sexual initiation and move to New York, through to 2005, when Goode's transformation comes full circle. Though these taut narratives live in the book more as discrete stories than as moving parts of a novel, they are individually excellent. Cooke delivers on every page. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Carolyn Cookes short-story collection, The Bostons, was a winner of the 2002 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers and a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award. Her fiction has appeared in AGNI, The Paris Review, Ploughshares and in two volumes each of The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, she teaches in the MFA writing program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
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