An action-packed story about the trials of a privileged girlhood.
Set in late 1950s Connecticut, Veazey’s debut explores the daily life of six high schoolers at all-girl Winthrop Academy, New England’s most respected prep school. Akin to Mary McCarthy’s The Group, with a dash of Peyton Place, this spicy bildungsroman revolves around Nancy Walden, who is sent to Winthrop midway through her senior year as punishment for her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, which she initially swears never to reveal. Forced to give up the baby, Nancy arrives at the Academy angry and alienated from her family, deserted by the boy she thought loved her and fearing she will never fit in anywhere. She soon finds, however, that she’s not alone: All the girls in her angst-filled dorm have been tossed aside by their upper-class parents under the guise of receiving a proper education. These secondary characters, who could have used further development, include the attention-starved, perfect student Jennifer; food-crazed, gossipy Sheila; and the quiet Heather, bitter over her father’s remarrying so soon after her mother’s death. At odds with the girls are the well-meaning headmistress, Miss Hicks, characteristically rigid and sanitized, and the repellent religious-fanatic dorm monitor, Miss Wade, who attempts to convert all the â€œsinful” girls in her charge. Finally, there’s Jonathan Herrick, a lecherous English teacher, and Mr. Jones, the mysterious janitor who more than lives up to his nickname (â€œThe Creep”) by story’s end. Not without a few unexpected twists, the fast-paced storyline gains momentum as it progresses, but readers will have a difficult time shaking the feeling that they’ve met these stock characters before.
Predictable, but this boarding-school romp is a page-turner.