The story of a young woman who comes of age with an acute fear of losing her parents (the first half of the book give or take) and then joins a secret society of Shakespeare enthusiasts at Wellesley, only to become embroiled in a scandal (it's a secret society, what else is to be expected?). Basically it's a coming of age story about a very relatable and intriguing young woman as she grows into herself.
I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, particularly for a debut. I think in any book aspiring to literary fiction, especially a first book, a bit of self-importance is going to exist and that is true in this book. However, I didn't find many of the problems in it that I typically see in "wanna-be" literary fiction. I think the author certainly has what it takes to walk that narrow line between women's fiction and literary fiction that is so difficult to describe and possibly has what it takes to break into literary fiction.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the story. I loved Naomi's character and I found her compelling and intriguing as well as immensely believable. I do not think the book does itself a favor by highlighting the secret Shakespeare society aspect of the story. I found it to be much more in line with a typical coming of age at a prestigious university/boarding school novel than a scandalous secret society book, although that aspect does play out in the plot. I much more favor the comparisons to Prep and The Dead Poet's Society than I do comparisons to The Secret History.
I recommend it. It's not a fast-paced story and the reader shouldn't go in expecting a secret society thriller. But I do think the author manages to avoid the "standard fare" problems that I think frequently plague books that attempt to combine or sit the fence on the literary fiction/women's fiction border. So many of those books read exactly the same to me, but this one stands out because of the main character.
Thank you to TLC and the author and publisher for sending me a copy to review.