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Daughters of the Revolution

2.6  ·  Rating Details ·  379 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
From the O. Henry Award–winning author of the story collection The Bostons—a New York Times Notable Book, Los Angeles Times Book of the Year and winner of the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers—an exquisite first novel set at a disintegrating New England prep school.

It’s 1968. The prestigious but cash-strapped Goode School in the town of Cape Wilde is run by its agi
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jul 10, 2011 Janice rated it liked it
The description was not entirely accurate--I was expecting a tale of the headmaster and the first girl to attend the school instead of disjointed tales about characters with ties to the school. I never really felt like we got to know any of the characters--there was a detachment, a coldness about the story-telling that kept one from engaging with the characters--maybe a deliberate New England stiffness to the whole thing?
I would have actually loved a story that matched the description on the b
Jun 15, 2012 Rachelheavers rated it it was ok

Is there some MFA professor out there that is telling students not to worry about character development and plot, just focus on overly detailed sexual exploits? Because a whole school of contemporary authors, this one included, seems to think that one can effectivly replace the other. Not true.

I've said this before, but I will say it again. No one cares about your thinly veiled autobiographical references to your rich prep school or Seven Sisters College experiences. Please stop using the
Jul 29, 2011 Laurie rated it did not like it
I read this book in one day, partly because it was short (173 pages) and partly because I had nothing else to do while sitting on a bus in two hours of traffic. The beginning of this book confused me because I had read the inside jacket cover and nowhere in that little synopsis were the characters in the first chapter mentioned. I had no idea what was going on. And then we time traveled in the next chapter, and then we switched years again, and then we switched perspective, and then ... yeah. Th ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Trudi rated it liked it
An odd book. While I recognize the quality of the writing, I didn't really much like the story - kind of unusual as it's subject matter (the 60s, the feminist movement, integration, etc) is of interest to me. But I didn't make a connection with any of the characters. It's about a private boys school which is, inadvertently, opened to girls when a clerical error is made. So it concerns Carole Faust, the black girl who is the first female student at the Goode School, Goddard (God) Byrd, the headma ...more
Zeynep Nur
Aug 29, 2015 Zeynep Nur rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman
Kitabın arka kapağında yazan tanıtımla ancak bu kadar alakasız olabilirdi bir kitap. Sırf o yazıdan etkilenip alınca büyük ya da küçük bir beklenti oluşuyor ister istemez ama gerçekten bu kadar hayal kırıklığı yaşamayı hiç beklemiyordum. Kitapta bölümler farklı karakterlerin ağızlarından anlatılmış ve bu geçişler bence başarılı değil. Mevzubahis konulara aralarda birkaç cümle şeklinde değinilmiş. Bazı olaylar çok gereksizken uzatılmış da uzatılmış vs. Sevemediğim o kadar çok şey var ki hangi bir ...more
Jun 03, 2011 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it
In the beginning of this historical tale that spans the years between the 1960s to the Millennium and beyond, we meet a man with the unlikely name of Heck Hellman. A kayaking adventure and a tragic drowning set the scene for the unfolding legacy and drama of this character's progeny EV Hellman and her mother Mei-Mei.

The backdrop of this tale is a school in Cape Wilde, headed by Goddard Byrd (known as God) that plunges us into another kind of legacy: the private educational system in New England,
Jul 24, 2011 Cher rated it it was ok
The interconnected stories of “Daughters of the Revolution” read as a collection of stories rather than a fully-fleshed novel. The writing is clever but I found it disappointing that the author, Carolyn Cooke, failed to explore the ultimately unsympathetic characters leaving me without a reason to invest in this book. This novel got great reviews, but I just couldn’t connect with it. The passage about the surgically attached forehead nipple continues to irk me.
Aug 29, 2015 Asu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kitapta ilginç hiçbir yan yok itiraf etmeliyim ki çok şey beklemiştim. Sadece isminden dolayı değil konu itibari ile de kafamda yer edecek bir kitap olduğunu sanmıştım.
Kitapta aklımda kalan tek şey şu tersten de okunduğunda aynı anlamı veren cümle :

"Are we not drawn onward we few drawn onward to new era?"

"İleriye doğru sürüklenmiyor muyuz pek azımız yeni bir çağa doğru ilerliyoruz"

Sadece bir cümle için okumak da iyi neyse bakalım :P Bazen bir kelime dahi önemlidir değil mi :)
Jul 25, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Excellent tight prose and compelling characterization.
Oct 25, 2012 Robin rated it it was ok
The themes were interesting, but the characters were not. None of them were developed in enough depth to be compelling. Overall, it felt like a flat, feminist version of a John Irving novel.
Nov 21, 2015 Patrick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 2.5 stars because it had a few redeeming qualities to it. I like how the books premise is that of the old world gradually giving way to the new world.

The book starts with the newly wed marriage of Lil and Heck. How Lil wants to be more than a housewife and how she hates being called mother by her daughter. Heck was an older first year medical student while Lil was a former swimmer cum housewife. Heck had a good friend who was more privileged than he was and who had an ease about
Sep 17, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Carolyn Cooke's DAUGHTERS OF THE REVOLUTION is a revelation. Set in a New England private school for boys, the novel portrays women who are strong, lusty, intelligent, insightful, and loving. Cooke presents the novel from a variety of narrative perspectives, and the narrators are pitch perfect - Heck Hellman, the drowned medical student; Mei Mei, his wife; EV, his daughter; Carole Faust, the first female (mistakenly and improbably) admitted to Goode School, run by the imperious Goddard Byrd ("Go ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it
I can't really explain why this book grabbed me and held my attention so strongly, but I picked it up one night and couldn't go to sleep till I finished it. It's really a small story set against the backdrop of the sexual revolution, integration, and the struggle for gender equality. The action takes place over a 40 year period in the Northeast, mostly Boston, between the 60's and present time. Its focus is a boys' prep school which is fighting to hold its long standing tradition of excluding fe ...more
Martine Taylor
Dec 27, 2014 Martine Taylor rated it liked it
Based on the book blurb, I was expecting a book focused on a black teenage girl's experience as the first girl in an all-boy prep school. Instead, this book is more a series of short-stories focusing on key people from that event, across 20 years. The characters are interesting - not entirely likable or predictable - and the author seems to enjoy poking fun at her characters. The most interesting character surprisingly ends up being "God", the "venerable head" of the all-boys school, who remains ...more
Lauren Becker
Mar 25, 2012 Lauren Becker rated it it was amazing
Daughters of the Revolution is a wonderful novel filled with gorgeous, funny stories that weave together and apart through the sexual and cultural revolutions of the late 60s/early 70s. Not to be mistaken for a collection of short stories, Cooke maintains central characters in a boys' school transitioning to co-education and in EV, daughter of an early and unapologetic sexual revolutionary.

Cooke's writing is effortless, masterful, and stunning. Even supporting characters are nurtured with descr
I started Daughters of the Revolution and was immediately intrigued. However, I was disappointed to find that each chapter read more like a short story, and less like a novel. While the stories are interconnected, the feel for me as a reader was that they were disjointed. It was difficult to follow the transitions, the narrators, and the characters. I wanted to know more about each, but then a few short pages later, he or she was gone - not to reappear for 50 or 60 pages. There are a few histori ...more
Nov 24, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it
What this book did for me, personally, was contextualize the term revolution with feelings and emotions that largely deal with voids of all kinds. It occurred to me, most poignantly through our unseemly-yet-not-indefatigable lead, that our relationship with a void is primarily how we do deal with revolutions. Throughout the book, I began seeing how different characters may see loss in ways that I had not truly (or fully) considered. When the characters confront revolution through interactions wi ...more
Jan 29, 2012 Lindsey rated it liked it
This would be a good book for a book club. I would enjoy discussing the book's perspective on feminism, class, power and patriarchy, which I appreciate as being powerful and well-done. Reading it by myself I wasn't able to grasp the full depth of it. There is a lot of symbolism that I did not fully grasp, such as the odd names of all the characters and what that meant.

The characters largely depressed me, except for Carole, who I found fascinating and of a unique perspective. I was annoyed at tim
Jun 21, 2011 Jeanne rated it liked it
Recommended to Jeanne by: EW
Let me begin by stating that this novel is not what the review described it as, nor is it what the blurb on the dust jacket portrayed it to be.

First, and foremost, this is more of a collection of interconnected stories than a novel.

Our stories begin with the tragic drowning of Heck Hellman--husband, father, medical student, and graduate of Goode School in the town of Cape Wilde.

What follows are the stories of Heck's daughter, EV, and wife, Mei-Mei, Goddard Byrd, the head of Goode School, and Car
Adam Wagner
Jul 05, 2015 Adam Wagner rated it it was ok
This book left me frustrated and, ultimately, unsatisfied. If it had portrayed itself as a series of interlocking stories rather than the story of a prep school's integration, it would have been more on point. Furthermore, none of the characters are developed, instead falling into the trap of doing terrible things and expecting us to understand them. The only two people I found sympathetic were the headmaster's ex-wife and the school's first female student (the details about the art exhibition t ...more
Jun 08, 2011 Ashley rated it did not like it
Gave up on page 132. The book started out promising. Not my favorite, but it at least held my attention. As the story lines moved along their interest dwindled and I was unable to keep up with the intellectual rhetoric. I understand the plot centers around the 1960's feminist movement. However, the method which the author takes in attempting to recreate this enviornment I do not think best highlights the struggles occuring at this time period. There is too much going on, too many characters, too ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Janet rated it liked it
The inside cover states that this is a story about the first female, who happens to be black, at a boys prep school in the Northeast. The novel tells her story but many others and is written more as a series of short stories about characters lives and their connections over several years.

I gave the book only three stars because I didn't love it, and although I could not really relate to any of the characters, they are staying with me and I find myself thinking about them now that I have finished
May 13, 2012 Nadia rated it liked it
Somehow, this is not at all what I thought it would be. Very disjointed, for one thing. I'm still trying to find a thread that ties it all together. Perhaps it will be apparent once I've finished the whole thing - if I get that far.

.......Ok, I did finish it. While there was a surprise I didn't see coming at the end, I'm still a little disappointed. While the writing is excellent, the book is more a collection of short stories in which some of the characters happen to overlap than a body of fict
May 29, 2011 Circe rated it it was ok
As other reviewers mentioned, the description of this book is quite misleading. It doesn't just follow Carole (who is the first girl at an all boys private school) it also follows the lives of a few other people who are associated with the school. Unfortunately, although the characters were interesting and complex I think the author was a bit too ambitious for the ~300 pages of the book. The plot is hard to follow at times when the chapters jump decades at a time and I found it hard to fully und ...more
Apr 26, 2013 Sandra rated it really liked it
Like Carolyn Cooke's first book, The Bostonians, each chapter was interealated. There were some basic characters and each was written about and how they played into each others lives. Each chapter focused on one of the characters and how one of the other affected their life. Then this was repeated with another in character in the next chapter. It was hard to put down as I felt a part of each of their lives. I felt like a fly on the wall able to see how characters lives unfolded.
Her style is ver
Mar 11, 2012 Amy rated it did not like it
Yuk! I would have put this down and not finished it, but it was only 170 pages and I haven't been to the library this week. It usually like when the chapters are told by different characters and yet they all interwine, this book however, was loosely connected and honestly never made me care. The writing had the characters so inside their own heads sometimes, it didn't even make sense. don't bother w/these Daughters.
Feb 11, 2013 Nihan rated it it was ok
İsmi ve konusu ilgimi çekmişti ve sanırım beklentim yüksekti ama yanılmışım. Dibe batmış karakterlerin etrafında dönüyor kitap ve tutarlılık diye bir olay mevzu bahis değil asla. Kopuk kopuk ve gereksiz birçok ayrıntı var. Devrim güç gerektiren bir durumdur ama kitaptaki karakterler güç kelimesinin yakınından bile geçmiyor. Kirli hayatlar... Yeraltı edebiyatına pek olumlu bir bakış açısı kazandırmadı bu kitap bana.
Mar 03, 2012 Erica rated it really liked it
This was my first departure from my usual contemporary Irish authors or the somewhat junkier "mom lit" I've been reading lately, and boy, am I glad I made the leap. Fascinating characters and a compelling story about a New England private school. Although the novel is thoughtfully constructed, the chapters, individually, felt clumsy at times (but I could also blame that feeling on my own sleep-deprived brain!).
Dec 31, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I loved the nyc apartment building stuff! plus a few times I wanted to tweet some phrases, carolyn has an amazing ear for the ridiculous sound bite - I'm really glad I got this book at the berkeley public library, had seen it at the Center for Fiction but of course was broke and so just spent a dollar on Edmund White's literary journalistic classic, States of Desire, in order to one day pass it on to somebody. A meandering review, i know.
Mar 20, 2015 Carolyn rated it liked it
Eh... Historically accurate. At times it read semi text book like. The characters were rather bland. Several sex scenes uncalled for and useless. It started out dull and I was hoping it'd get better. Still first novels are difficult. I do have great faith in this author because she has done her research. I just believe the characters should be fleshed out a bit more so I can care and empathize for and with them.
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