Kelly's Reviews > Gossip of the Starlings

Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont
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Jul 15, 08

bookshelves: read-in-2008
Read in July, 2008

** spoiler alert ** What a disaster of a book. I can't begin to comprehend what the goal or purpose of this way, and I feel like it was a major rip off a lot of other stories and rehashed terribly.

First, the over reliance on drug use as a major theme in pre-college boarding school is plain absurd. Whoever the audience is for this story is in for disappointment - this is way too adult for the high school age and way too juvenile for adults. De Garmont wants to write something similar to Curtis Sittenfield's "Prep," but falls so flat.

Second, the title has nothing to do with the book. There is one line in the entire book and in no way is this about gossipy folks. All of the characters are dry and predictable, with no depth and no interest in anyone except themselves. It's like De Garmont wanted to portray something that she wanted to convey, but failed in both respects as the story falls flat and the title does nothing more than make clear this is nothing but "show."

The writing is not spectacular. It's cliched, and it's not original. There's nothing spectacular here, and all of the hype surrounding this book (through its publisher and through press) is nothing but a means of trying to sell something that just isn't. The story line has too many elements cobbled together poorly without giving an indication of aim or aspiration in any character - Catherine apparently is a big deal horse rider, but we know so little about it. Sure it comes up, but maybe only after a few chapters. It was a total afterthought...a detail added simply because it adds to the air of the prep school. Maybe if this had actually been developed and made a reader care about Catherine's passion it could have worked but since Catherine didn't care herself (until the horse went missing, a la the end of the book), we can't care, either.

I would not recommend this for anyone. I finished it simply because I wanted to see what the disappointing ending was that other reviewers mentioned. I found the ending to be the only redeeming quality of the book: one character ends up dead (not that she was ever alive, anyway) and the others have nothing going for them. I love myself a good prep school story, but this was painful not because of that, but because of how poorly executed and planned it was. Really - high schoolers able to hop a plane to South America on a whim to get coke without a parent even knowing? Even for the early 80s, you have got to be kidding me.
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Kricket The title "Gossip of the Starlings" comes from a Shel Silverstein poem that the Skye & Catherine remember together from their childhoods. It has to do with knowing a language or a way of being when you are young, and then forgetting it as you grow up.

Catherine cared about the horse long before he disappeared- it was when he came down with colic and they connected as she nursed him back to health.


Caroline Agreed. I just finished this book last night and did not care for it. I enjoyed reading the author interview at the back of the book; it did help me understand where she was going with the story. De Gramont mentions the book A Separate Peace as being an inspiration, so that helps me understand her book a bit better, but still... I, too, cannot recommend this book to anyone. I found the character of Skye just plain strange, and I got SICK of reading about the drug use. It was depressing.


Jackie I agree!


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