The Burning Girl

The Burning Girl

3.26 (9,594 ratings by Goodreads)
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A bracing and hypnotic portrait of the complexities of female friendship from the New York Times bestselling author of The Woman Upstairs.

Julia Robinson and Cassie Burnes have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge: while Julia comes from a stable, happy, middle-class family, Cassie never knew her father, who died when she was an infant, and has an increasingly tempestuous relationship with her single mother, Bev. When Bev becomes involved with the mysterious Anders Shute, Cassie feels cruelly abandoned. Disturbed, angry and desperate for answers, she sets out on a journey that will put her own life in danger, and shatter her oldest friendship. Compact, compelling, and ferociously sad, The Burning Girl is at once a story about childhood, friendship and community, and a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about childhood and friendship. Claire Messud brilliantly mixes folklore and Bildungsroman, exploring the ways in which our made-up stories, and their consequences, become real.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 137 x 215 x 17mm | 230g
  • Fleet
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0708898629
  • 9780708898628
  • 284,715

Review Text

Messud is magnificent on female fury . . . The Burning Girl is an astute, subtle novel that conceals an eloquent and clear-eyed rage simmering beneath its surface Francesca Segal Financial Times
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Review quote

It is a delight to be continuously wrong-footed and bowled over . . . Messud skilfully and compellingly traces the intricacies of friendship and the tragedies that erupt when lives are unmade * Weekend Australian * Lingeringly evocative, this is an indelible, heartfelt coming-of-age tale whose ample insights are braided with menace -- Craig Brown * Daily Mail * This fierce, melancholy book lays bare the girls' shared desire to escape their small town American home for something bigger and brighter, and reveals how things go terribly awry * Psychologies * Messud painstakingly follows the ebbs and flows of the minutiae of what it means to be and to have a friend when you are struggling to develop an adult identity -- Linda Grant * Telegraph * Messud's cut-glass prose reels you into a quietly shocking narrative that chillingly portrays female coming-of-age as a terrifying loss of freedom * Metro * An exceptionally well-written and emotionally powerful account of one such loss, in which the intense friendship between two prepubescent girls fails as they move from the clarity of childhood towards the uncertainties and dangers of adolescence . . . This novel serves as an examination of the power of the storyteller as much as a reworking of the classic themes of innocence betrayed and love lost . . . Exhilarating, because of Messud's sheer intelligence, the richness and beauty of her prose and her understanding of the art and value of storytelling. It is a haunting, stunning novel and deserves every prize -- Anne Chisholm * Literary Review * This is a taut, sure-footed and sobering exploration of girlhood * Daily Mail * Gripping * Vogue * Claire Messud's elegant, understated new novel . . . Messud brilliantly renders the uncertainty of Julia's sense of identity . . . beautifully evocative * Times Literary Supplement * Lingeringly evocative, this is a heartfelt coming-of-age tale whose insights - into girlhood especially - are braided with mystery and menace * Mail on Sunday * This fierce, melancholy book lays bare the girls' shared desire to escape their small-town American home for something bigger and brighter, and explores why it went badly awry * Sunday Express * This is a terrific novel, beautifully written and crafted; I don't believe Messud could write a duff sentence if she tried -- Kate Saunders * The Times * Two best friends from childhood are forced on to different paths in The Burning Girl. But Claire Messud's moving writing makes it so much deeper, and gets us to think about growing up, friendship and how girls are treated by society * Good Housekeeping * Messud's gift is to understand the nuances of female relationships and believe that they are worthy of sustained and unhurried attention * Evening Standard * A novel that packs a massive punch as it delves into the devastating results of a fractured friendship * Woman & Home * The Woman Upstairs was a clever, audacious portrayal of an untrustworthy protagonist. Informed by the same sophisticated intelligence and elegant prose, but gaining new poignant depths, this novel is haunting and emotionally gripping * Publishers Weekly * Emotionally intense and quietly haunting * Kirkus Reviews * A novel of deep emotional intelligence . . . There are insightful, psychologically astute meditations throughout the narrative, written in the precise, elegant prose we've come to expect from this master storyteller . . . The Burning Girl is reminiscent of My Brilliant Friend -- Lucy Scholes * Independent * Messud captures young adolescence vividly and unjudgementally . . . this is a hard book to stop reading -- Ursula K Le Guin * Guardian * Messud is magnificent on female fury . . . The Burning Girl is an astute, subtle novel that conceals an eloquent and clear-eyed rage simmering beneath its surface -- Francesca Segal * Financial Times *
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About Claire Messud

Claire Messud is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of five other works of fiction including, most recently, The Burning Girl, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.
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Rating details

9,594 ratings
3.26 out of 5 stars
5 10% (927)
4 29% (2,815)
3 43% (4,082)
2 15% (1,450)
1 3% (320)
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