Emma Cline || The Girls

I had been planning to read The Girls for quite some time; the novel, loosely based on the Charles Manson group including the brutal murders, got praise all over. Usually I am slightly wary of novels that are being hyped. Often they lack qualities on either content, structure or style. It turned out I had nothing to worry about: Cline knows how to write and effortlessly combined those three elements. Cline writes beautifully, combining complex sentences and imagery; her choice to have grown-up Evie look back on her period with the cult works; the main characters have sufficient depth to convince. I had no problem whatsoever to envision Russell, the cult leader: a weak egocentric conceited man who gets a kick out of controlling young people. In his cult he is the leader of a group of young women who worship him, despite the fact that he obliges them to have sex with other men and instructs them to neglect their children. Cline show us how Evie is drawn into the group, making very clear that Evie is a perfect victim, as would any insecure 15-year old have been. Evie has many doubts and is as yet not capable of seeing the many flaws of the cult. She merely sees what she wants to see. Strangely enough the cult’s main attraction is not Russell but Suzanne, one of the women ultimately committing murders for Russell. Suzanne is everything Evie would want to be. The reader gets to know a woman who no longer has a mind of her own, who has her life controlled by a man who stuffs her with drugs. Evie on the other hand sees a self-assured young woman who does not care about common standards in society and who lives a free life with a group of like-minded people. Even when the cult runs out of control Evie refuses to acknowledge the drug abuse, the filth, the hunger and Russell’s madness. She still wants to be with Suzanne. A single lucid moment of Suzanne prevents Evie from being involved with the murders. Evie, as an adult, is very aware of the fact that she became very close to having killed herself. The strength of the novel lies in the fact that Evie is no exception, any girl could have become one of ‘the girls’, under the influence of a Russell or Suzanne . The Girls could easily have become a tear-jerker. Cline’s talent makes for a complex well-balanced novel that combines style structure and content.



About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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