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The Rehearsal

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  3,439 Ratings  ·  545 Reviews
A high school sex scandal jolts a group of teenage girls into a new awareness of their own potency and power. The sudden and total publicity seems to turn every act into a performance and every space into a stage.
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Granta Books (UK) (first published 2008)
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Rohit It's more of a question of the living the moments and ignoring the base, like reading them as facts without any prior story but with a little…moreIt's more of a question of the living the moments and ignoring the base, like reading them as facts without any prior story but with a little knowledge of the characters and their habits as you move through..(less)

Community Reviews

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Colin Bruce Anthes
I enjoy rating and seeing ratings on Goodreads immensely, however I can't help but notice certain patterns in the ratings of books which you, no doubt, have also noticed. Classics and non-genre-protected contemporary novels can either be skyrocketed by a large fan base, or pulled down by instant 1 and 2 star ratings by people who don't find a book to be in keeping with their ideas of what literature should be. I would love to see more raters giving good books 3 or 4 stars even if it wasn't their ...more
Justin Evans
Jan 23, 2014 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Eleanor Catton is a witch. I say this out of great respect, as I was taught to do by my Fake Auntie Barbara, who is also a witch. I know that Catton is a witch because:

i) I do not care about sexuality in fiction. It's been done to death (primarily, I suspect, because it lets writers, who like to think they're pure as the driven snow, feel like victims. Most writers, of course, are wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of the rest of the human population and got that way because of a wide range of hi
Ian "Marvin" Graye
That One Perfect Kiss

At the heart of this novel (written when Catton was 22) is an illicit male teacher, female pupil relationship.

We hear little from the 31 year old teacher, so we can’t determine whether he is a latter-day Humbert Humbert.

Catton is more interested in the context and the aftermath than the act itself.

Almost all of the novel is told from the perspective of secondary school girls or young women. Hence, it's primarily an exploration of female adolescence and maturity, whateve
Paul Bryant
Feb 03, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

Since this book is partly about a bunch of teenagers trying to get accepted into a top dramatic academy, I have an excuse to tell you a recent sad-but-true anecdote, which featured my daughter’s fellow-Corridor (that’s their band) named Helena. If you’ve seen the youtube videos (and they really want you to!) she’s the very tall, very thin, quite pretty and extremely blonde one. She’s a good actress (I’ve seen her in school plays) and a good singer & dancer and she’s totally in love with acti
Jul 30, 2013 Antonomasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: indirectly, the 2013 Booker longlist
[4.5] A formidably clever book with a rubbish cover. Both the jacket and the synopsis - a scandal over the relationship between a sixth former (in British parlance) and a 31 year old teacher - look like something from the younger end of a publisher's commercial women's fiction dept. But as the polarised ratings show, those looking for a straightforward beach read will be disappointed by an experimental, theory-driven novel which speaks the unspeakable. (As with Joanna Kavenna, another intelligen ...more
Jun 09, 2015 Maxwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2015
Phenomenal! Not only is this an amazing book, but it's Catton's debut, written during her year of getting her the age of 22! Incredible.

The style is so unique, very much like reading the descriptions in a play at times. It deals with truth and fiction, masks and faces, putting on a facade, and it all centers around the arts: saxophones and theatre. I really loved the dramatic aspects of it.

It's a dual-narrative story, and the interweaving stories are crafted SO well. It's seamless. Yo
switterbug (Betsey)
Reading this debut novel was like sitting in a black box theatre watching a play, suspended in time, and often like watching a rehearsal of the play that I am watching. As the characters move into focus, the lighting techniques add a perspective to the dialog. Just like a play's story is told through dialog; lighting; and movement (called blocking in theater lingo), Catton's novel coheres and communicates through the visible frame of a theatre lens; the boundaries of the theatre are the boundari ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Basuhi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Silently seductive and unapologetically bold, a novel that carefully ensnares poetic opulence and exquisite exposition, The Rehearsal is.

"Remember that it’s in her best interests for everything to go wrong. It’s in her best interests to slip up now, while she’s still safe in the Green Room with the shrouded furniture and the rows of faceless polystyrene heads and the cracked and dusty mirrors and the old papers scudding across the floor. Don’t wait until she’s out in the savage white light o
Mar 01, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
The Rehearsal by young New Zealand author Eleanor Catton is an astonishing debut novel that is both surprising as it is enlightening. The story is smart, playful and self-possessed with a wonderful array of character's that combined with such a arresting and seductive storyline that make it that whenever you open the book you will find it nigh on impossible to put it down.

What could of been precious at best, pretentious at worst, instead thanks to superb storytelling is shocking, funny and poign
Sep 06, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most confounding books I've read in a long time. It's really well written, and filled with pages of stunning dialogue, but quite a bit of it seems to be at odds with the setting. Put another way: I find it hard to believe any of the characters in this book would say a lot of the things they say. They speak like characters, not people, and it's distracting...although apparently not distracting enough for me to put it down.
Aug 08, 2016 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Play within the Play

The Rehearsal begins with the aftermath of a sex scandal at a girls’ school where a seventh-former, Victoria, has an affair with the music teacher. It’s all about the adolescent reactions, their confusion and hostility (directed towards Victoria rather than the teacher), the awkward counselling sessions, the mothers’ hand-wringing, and it’s done brilliantly. Later, students in a drama school nearby decide to make a play out of the incident, but it becomes severely comprom
David Hebblethwaite
Aug 08, 2009 David Hebblethwaite rated it it was amazing
Where to start with The Rehearsal, a book that fizzes over with invention and exuberance; that rummages through haystacks of artifice and returns with surprisingly many needles of truth; that demands attention from its readers, but pays it all back, many times over — that comes laden with praise, every word of it justified?

We could start with the plot, though that might be something of a red herring. There’s a scandal involving a girl at Abbey Grange school and one of the teachers there. The stu
Jan 02, 2014 Nigeyb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for my book group. Or rather I tried. I came to it having just finished "Sword of Honour" by Evelyn Waugh. The extreme contrast did not help the experience. One book, a masterpiece borne out of a global conflict, the other an unfathomable enigma borne out of a scandal in a girl's school. One felt profound and insightful, the other experimental and confusing.

My initial impression was that the book was intriguing. Here's the saxophone teacher addressing a mother: "I require of al
Jul 23, 2016 Liesa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ich habe lange mit mir gerungen, ob ich „Die Anatomie des Erwachens“ lesen möchte oder nicht. Nachdem ich von „Die Gestirne“ so unglaublich begeistert war und noch heute oft daran denken muss, war ich hin und hergerissen, ob ich mich nun auch an den Debütroman der talentierten Eleanor Catton wagen sollte. Dagegen sprach für mich vor allem eins, nämlich dass „Die Anatomie des Erwachens“ so ganz anders klang, als ihr preisgekrönter zweiter Roman. Ich wollte trotzdem nichts unversucht lassen und ga ...more
Mark Zieg
Aug 05, 2009 Mark Zieg rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people open to a mind-blowing rediscovery of what is possible within the frame of a novel
Recommended to Mark by: the Amazon "books" team
This was one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a very long time. It is certainly not for everyone – the subject matter will put off some, while the innovative narrative structure may frustrate others expecting a traditionally linear story arc.

However, if you are sometimes more intrigued by the way a tale is told than the events described; if you oft find yourself lingering over a sentence of remarkable clarity and precision, wondering at the delicate interplay of consonance and connota
Jun 06, 2010 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not finish this book. It was written in such a horribly douchebagey, pretentious, snobby way that it was literally painful to read. I don't know how anyone can actually like this. I mean, I am a fan of all things new and different, but this book is literally unreadable and does not make any sense. Seriously.
Erm... Not really. Ok, so Catton has really good ideas for her book and writes pretty well, in some sort of avant-garde way.

And that's fine.

But I can't imagine, for the life of me, teenage girls talking like Catton's characters. And what was that with the saxophone teacher?!

The non-linear narrative didn't make things easy, but it wasn't that much of a problem. My trouble was with connecting all the events and knowing what happens with the characters, mainly Isolde, Julia and Stanley. In the end
Mar 19, 2010 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astonishing debut book, all the more so because the author is barely out of her teens. This novel, centering on a David Lynch-like saxophone teacher, her student, and a sensitive slightly older drama student, reveals the masks we wear, the performances we inadvertently (and sometimes deliberately) give, and the ways we finesse how others perceive us. The insights are amazing; at its core, it's about identity and longing.
I am often suspicious of effusive content in the book blurb – in this case, a “starburst of talent” along with terms such as ‘astonishing’ and ‘accomplishment carried so lightly’. This is more like marketing speak to me than reviewer tone, but although these are not phrases I’d use, they are not far off the mark. Catton seems to play with and disrupt genre forms and expectations. According the part of the blurb describing the narrative – “a high school sex scandal jolts a group of teenage girls ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Just finished this one, and I'm still trying to figure out what I think of it. There were points where I was really into it, and other parts where I had no idea what was going on. When I didn't know what was going on, I would get frustrated and lose interest in the book.

I actually really like the writing and the descriptions in the book. There were parts where the writing and language was really beautiful, and there were some interesting descriptions of things that I would never expect.

I was def
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is a long review. Just warning you. I'm too bewildered and pressed for time to write anything more tight and articulate.

I wanted to read something from the Orange Prize shortlist and this title really interested me. It wasn't what I expected, which honestly wouldn't matter except that, unfortunately, the story I did get disappointed me so much.

This is the kind of book I dread, because it leaves me confused on so many levels - not least of which is a lack of a definitive reaction from me. I
Mrs. Reed
Just because a book is imaginative and does something different doesn't mean I have to like it, and doesn't mean that I think it's well done. I don't mind time shifts, and these were fairly clearly marked, but it really threw me to never know what was real and what was made up. For example, the book started with the saxophone teacher speaking in such an absurd way to a parent, then another parent comes in: "It's the same woman as before, just with a different costume--Winter not Henderson. Some ...more
The struggle is real and I really struggled with this one. Honestly, I'm not even sure what I read. I know it's supposedly about a sexual relationship between a music teacher and one of his teenaged students at an all girls school, I guess in theory that's what it's about, but in reality, well at least in my reality, it's a hot time jumping mess.

The story starts off with a bitchy middle aged saxophone teacher telling some mother that her precious snowflake isn't ready yet to start playing the s
Eleanor Catton's debut novel is a marvelous book. I haven't yet read 'The Luminaries' so had no preconceptions but boy, can she write! The story is told in two parallel strands, one centering on a drama student, Stanley, attending his first year at a prestigious drama school and the second centering on a saxophone teacher and her pupils from a nearby exclusive girls school. At the start of the novel it has just been discovered that a male music teacher, Mr Saladar, has been caught having an affa ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skillful but I felt misled, as in I was not aware at the time of purchase that I was purchasing someone's experimental MFA workshop novel. It's not that the book is unenjoyable, or even that it's irredeemably gimmicky. While gimmicky, it is rather well done. But the all-the-world's-a-stage and the is-this-really-happening-or-is-this-actually-part-of-the-play-within-the-novel conceit of the book is also aggravating, not that interesting, and led me not to care that much.

Looking at other GR review
Matt Smith
Actual rating: 2 stars

I had a very hard time getting myself interested in The Rehearsal. For much of the first of the book I struggled to become engaged in the story. The Rehearsal begins as two different storylines overlapping and eventually merging into each other, however the chronology of events isn't always in order and I found myself periodically getting lost.

I did find the chapters that centered around the saxophone teacher and scandal at Abbey Grange to be far more compelling than those
Nov 27, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, with its shifty chronology and its disorientation and its self-consciously literary style might seem over-the-top or pretentious or off-putting, especially at the start, when you don't quite know what on earth you're reading. But Catton's writing, and the story, are engrossing enough that it worked for me. The book might be said to explain its own style, its own conception of literature as well as theater, early-ish in the book, in the following passage:
The Head of Improvisation said,
Girl with her Head in a Book
Eleanor Catton is something of a wunderkind, she won the Booker Prize last year for The Luminaries which is sitting and waiting for me in my Kindle. In the spirit of background reading however, I decided to try her first novel beforehand. The Rehearsal was shortlisted for the Guardian First Novel prize; for someone who has yet to climb out of her twenties, Miss Catton is on quite the winning streak. I was struck though in reading this novel that it could never have been written by anybody who wa ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the penultimate book I read to get through all the novels longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and I can say for certain without reading the last one that this is my favorite. It isn't possible that I could like the other one more. I enjoyed the technique of this novel, and that it somehow didn't seem so obviously a technique as I was reading it. The story is not linear, I'm not even sure which parts were real, but I couldn't put it down. I wanted to stay up and read instead of sleep, ...more
so eleanor catton was lovely and she signed my book; I missed the first talk she gave but I gather she said something about having written the rehearsal in a very different part of her life and she felt that she had been sort of a different person - I'm not sure exactly what she said, because I only heard about it secondhand, but if anything my reread of this book has only made me love it more, it's complex and fascinating and confusing and very wonderfully written.
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Eleanor Catton (born 1985) is a New Zealand author. Catton was born in Canada while her father, a New Zealand graduate, was completing a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. She lived in Yorkshire until the age of 13, before her family settled in Canterbury, New Zealand. She studied English at the University of Canterbury, and completed a Master's in Creative Writing at The Institute of ...more
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“She is a loner, too bright for the slutty girls and too savage for the bright girls, haunting the edges and corners of the school like a sullen disillusioned ghost” 59 likes
“Remember that anybody who is clever enough to set you free is clever enough to enslave you.” 34 likes
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