THE LAST OF EDEN by Stephanie Tolan


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Turnbull Hall is one of those fictional girls' boarding schools where each girl is deeply into pursuing her special interest--be it art, poetry, hockey, or boys. At first the lines seem too distinctly drawn and narrator Mike (Michelle), a poet, and her talented artist roommate Marty too mature in their commitment. In any case, Marty's art blossoms under the close tutelage of Priscilla Kincaid, a famous painter new to Turnbull; and the only blot on the girls' sophomore year is a vindictive rumor (begun by a girl caught with Mr. Kincaid, the school's first male teacher) implying that there is more than common interest to the art student-teacher relationship--and so, by association, more to the roommates' friendship as well. Then into their junior year comes ""weird,"" plotting, Sylva, playing at first on Marty's serious religious streak, luring her away from her art, worming her way into Marty's life and eventually her bed. Mike is devastated; but unlike Marty she has other relationships--with a teacher, a boy, other girls--which help her recover from Marty's ""betrayal."" There is unfortunately a teacher's last-page discourse on homosexuality, a bit too obviously didactic at that point, though not unlikely given the teacher and her friendship with Mike. But otherwise, once Tolan has put her characters in motion, she lets them get themselves into just the sort of intense boarding-school drama that would concern and rivet all involved. Those who judge such works politically might object to the casting of Sylva as evil seducer; but Tolan's girls are too thoughtfully contemplated and their experience too well rooted in circumstance, place, and personality, to fit anyone's scheme.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1980
Publisher: Warne