Synopses & Reviews
A daring, deeply affecting exploration of the links between language and imagination, history and memory.
Catrine Evans is a thirteen-year-old American who is sent to an English boarding school after her mother dies of cancer. Thrown into a strange world, Catrine quickly discovers that the fine schooling promised by her Welsh father may be nothing but show.
As she finds herself newly alone among glue-sniffing classmates, childhood memories of apple trees and horses are interwoven with hauntings of a motorcycle accident she saw before she left America.
Schooling is Catrine's story. Fueled by an unstoppable stream of thoughts and feelings, Catrine shows us the world of Monstead School, peopled by teachers and students at once familiar and strange. Her English teacher, Mr. Betts, is remorseful for a life unlived. Aurora Dyer is a fire-haired girl with a shady past and hopeless future. Grim Ms. Maggone, the girls' housemistress, is unsettled by Catrine and regards her with a wary eye. Chemistry teacher Mr. Gilbert is an alluring and complicated presence.
Wholly original in its use of language, theatre, and art to map a girl's life, Schooling is a bold new spin on the traditional coming-of-age story, a literary tour de force.
"A thrilling, crystalline novel of adolescent consciousness, a brilliantly unflinching marriage of lyricism and erudition, a book which, like the best books, contains a whole, urgent, and unforgettable world." Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
"So gorgeous and fluid, so achingly alive, you will remember what it's like to read something brand new." Alice Hoffman, author of The River King
"McGowan works in an experimental mode. At once lush and harsh, and inventive in form, the novel reads like an extended sensory exercise. Readers who prefer a straightforward narrative may be bemused, but those willing to accept the challenge will be rewarded with a beautifully written coming-of-age tale." Publishers Weekly
"Not since David Foster Wallace's Broom of the System (1986) has a literary debut been so refreshingly inventive and successful." Booklist (starred review)
Catrine Evans, a young American, is sent to an English boarding school after her mother dies of cancer. Memories of Isabelle, the best friend she left behind in Maine, give way to dreams haunted by images of an accidental death she believes they caused before she left for England.
About the Author
Heather McGowan's play The Return of Smith was staged at Lincoln Center's Living Room series at HERE in 1997. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.