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  • John Murray
  • John Murray
  • John Murray

The Virgins

Pamela Erens

8 Reviews

Rated 0

North America, c 1970 to c 1980, Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A seductive prep school novel.

'Erens brilliantly captures the dark side of adolescence . . . On a par with the likes of Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides' Independent

'Flawlessly executed and irrefutably true' John Irving

'A must for fans of Nabokovian tragedy' Irish Tatler

The events of 1979-80 reverberate around the campus of Auburn Academy and linger many years later in the mind of narrator Bruce Bennett-Jones. Aviva Rossner and Seung Jung are an unlikely couple at the elite East Coast boarding school and are not shy in flaunting their newly discovered sexuality. Their blossoming relationship is watched with envy and fascination by Bruce and other classmates, who believe their liaison to be one of pure, unadulterated passion and pleasure.

But nothing is what it seems, and as Aviva and Seung struggle to understand themselves and each other, things begin to fall apart. Their ultimate descent into shame and betrayal has disastrous consequences beyond their own lives.

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Praise for The Virgins

  • It joins the ranks of the great boarding school novels while somehow evoking the twisted, obsessive narrations of Nabokov's Pale Fire or Wharton's Ethan Frome - Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower

  • Flawlessly executed and irrefutably true - John Irving, The New York Times Book Review

  • Erens . . . has done a star turn with the prep school tale, giving it meaning for those who might not usually care about that world - Chicago Tribune

  • A beautifully written story - Vulture

  • Sinking into Ms. Erens's prose feels like slipping underwater, in a lake, in the dark: at once gradual and startling; the world outside the novel seems to give way entirely to the world within - Observer

  • It's rare to find a book that summons the delicate emotional state of teenagers . . . without being precious or cynical, but Pamela Erens' The Virgins beautifully manages that feat - Los Angeles Times

  • What happens between Seung and Aviva, this pair of star-crossed lovers, is truly horrible; the ending shouldn't be given away by a reviewer - John Irving

  • [A] subtle, accomplished second novel - Book Forum

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