I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About The Book
Jess Walker, middle child of a middle-class family, has perfected the art of vanishing in plain sight. But when she arrives at a concrete university campus under flat, grey, East Anglian skies, her world flares with colour.
Drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers – led by their maverick teacher, Lorna Clay – Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken as they share secrets, lovers and finally a tragedy. Soon Jess is thrown up against the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?
The Truants by Kate Weinberg is a book about a close group of friends, a mystery bubbling beneath the surface, obsession and secrets. Our protagonist is Jess, a middle child of five whose life has been spent being the odd one out, the voyeur and the person who fades into the background. She is very bright and is Oxbridge worthy but chooses instead to go to the University of East Anglia so she can study under Dr. Lorna Clay, a charismatic English Professor who is known for being somewhat of a maverick.
Told in retrospect, Jess reminisces about her time at University and her friendships with the beautiful and exuberent Georgie, her boyfriend Alec and Jess’ boyfriend Nick. Then there’s Lorna, the alluring Professor who is able to hold people in her thrall. She holds court in her seminar room, lecturing on Agatha Christie and her novels whilst her students vie for her praise.
This is a compelling book which examines the intensity of friendships and the line between admiration and obsession. Jess is deliberately described as a bland person, used to not being noticed and able to observe rather than particpate. Under the gaze of Lorna and through her friendship with Georgie, Alec and Nick, she finds herself blossoming when the spotlight of attention falls on her.
But underneath it all there is a hint of Something Very Bad. We don’t know what but it is there, in every sentence and paragraph, a constant malevolent presence on the periphery. This is brilliant writing which draws you in to a mystery and impending doom whilst describing a group of friends who seem to be having the time of their lives.
It is a gloriously sensuous and sumptuous read. You know those books which you just fall into? This is one of those. It is immersive, compulsive, utterly readable and has a timeless quality which made me just want to keep turning the pages. The characterisation and the interplay between her characters is so strong that I read it in two huge gulps.
The Truants by Kate Weinberg is everything I love in a novel. It is beautifully written, compelling and drew me in to its world. Its setting and plot will garner comparisons to The Secret History by Donna Tartt (one of my all time favourite books) but The Truants is a book all of its own. Strong on characterisation, plot, pacing, with a sense of place and atmosphere, it is an absolute gem of a book and an accomplished and assured debut.
About The Author
Kate Weinberg was born and lives in London. She studied English at Oxford and creative writing in East Anglia. She has worked as a slush pile reader, a bookshop assistant, a journalist and a ghost writer. The Truants is her first novel.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Ros Ellis at Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a copy of the book and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for an invitation to join the Blog Tour.