My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Summary: 1996. Freya Seymour and Josephine Grey are invincible - beautiful and brilliant, the two best friends are on the cusp of Oxbridge, and the success they always dreamed they'd share.
2014. Josephine hasn't heard from Freya for eighteen long and tortured years. And then Freya gets in touch, wanting to meet.
Beginning with one ill-fated night, The Exclusives charts the agonising spiral of friendship gone wrong, the heartache and betrayal of letting down those closest to you and the poisonous possibilities of what we wouldn't do when everything we prize is placed under threat.
And in the end, as she realises she cannot run for ever, Josephine must answer one question: can she face the woman that she used to know?
The Exclusives is Rebecca Thornton's powerful debut novel about the pressures of life in an exclusive boarding school.
Any time a book touts boarding school best friends who are estranged after something dark happened, my interest in piqued and it's a fairly sure bet, I'll give it a read. So when The Exclusives came across my general book perusal, I checked it out. Alas, not available in the US yet. So of course my next stop was a UK outlet to buy it. I got it into my hot little hands and now that I've read it, it was totally worth it. Funnily enough, I felt this was a 3 star book somewhere in the middle but by book's end, I was firmly in the 4 star feels.
Josephine and Freya kept me turning the pages and while I did think something lacked in the 1996 thread, I was still engaged and eager to find out what happened next. I do admit to breaking off in the middle to locate the chapter of the fateful night where everything diverged for the two girls and then when I went back, I felt things were less meandering. I did wish the secret were bigger but by the final pages of the book, I felt that the secret had so damaged both, it was huge enough. I also wished there'd been more about how Freya got to the point at which we see her in the present. Actually, I'd have liked to see more of both women in a year in the past that wasn't 1996 (maybe their 10 year out mark).
All in all, this was a good look in at a female friendship as touted in the blurbs and it was well rendered how two so close could tear themselves & one another apart. It's not as deep as The Secret History to be sure but it does have more depth than Mean Girls. I'll be on the lookout for future works by Thornton. Definitely recommended.
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