Gossip of the Starlings, by Nina De Gramont
Gossip of the Starlings treads familiar ground-- like many books as of late, it explores prep school society, wealth, and how adolescents develop without their parents close by. Our narrator, Catherine, is a senior at Esther Percy, a prep school for the wealthy and elite. When Skye Butterfield, the beloved Massachusetts senator's daughter, befriends her instantly, Catherine's life changes. Skye is wild and frenetic-- although she has always been prim and proper, she quickly begins snorting coke with Catherine and sneaking off campus. Catherine seems to realize that her restless energy is troublesome, but Skye, like her father, who is described to have a charm that is equalled by JFK, easily charms (if not manipulates) others, including Catherine, into bad situations, such as kayaking on the ocean in the middle of the night and having an affair with an older man.
Not everyone is swayed by Skye's charms-- Catherine's best friend and boyfriend are instantly wary of her-- but all are affected by Skye's need to act out and to make some sort of impact, no matter how notorious, on the universe. However, it seems that Skye doesn't necessarily want to cause harm to Catherine and her friends; Skye naively describes her relationship to Catherine as "just fact." Nevertheless, Skye's actions are poorly thought out an cause harm to everyone. At a time when the Cold War was brewing and fear was running rampant, Skye seems to have an unconscious need to make things happen, no matter how destructive, when the rest of the world is cowering and in stasis. She is in some ways empowered, but the power is naive and not wielded wisely.
Catherine is an everywoman, albeit, an rich, talented everywoman, who, like many adolescents, is swayed more by her attachments to people rather than logical thought. Gossip of the Starlings is a captivating book, but at times it was hard to believe that Catherine would act so suppliant to Skye, considering her intelligence and what is at stake during her senior year (she is, it seems, to be one of the best young equestrians in the country, and of course Skye's actions affect her equestrian career in a way I can't share here), but Skye is a fascinating enough character to partially overlook Catherine's lack of brain power. It's worth picking up-- if you read it, let me know what you think!
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