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Madam

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  5,706 ratings  ·  1,341 reviews
A darkly feminist, modern gothic tale pitched against a haunting backdrop, and populated by an electrifying cast of heroines

For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 18th 2021 by St. Martin's Press (first published February 18th 2021)
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Lucy There are queer characters whose experiences contribute to the overall story, but it's not a major part of the plot.…moreThere are queer characters whose experiences contribute to the overall story, but it's not a major part of the plot.(less)
Risha Not really a social commentary! I would lean towards thriller/mystery but it’s quite slow!

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,706 ratings  ·  1,341 reviews


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MarilynW
May 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Greek mythology is one of the many overriding themes of this story. The part where women are so brutalized and villainized that they are considered heroic for scorching their world and others with their own reign of revenge, brutality, violence, and death, is the part that Rose, a new Classics teacher at the celebrated Caldonbrae Hall, is most thrilled to teach to her female students. Rose seems to esteem and worship the women of mythology who murder others, including their
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Debra
May 16, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, netgalley
Over and out..

I am doing something very unusual for me. I am putting this book down. I never dnf a book - you have a higher probability of seeing a unicorn in the wild than seeing me put down a book - until today.

I have been applauding other reviewers for deciding not to finish, when a book does not work for then and continued to force myself to read a book I was not enjoying....until today

I wanted really badly to like this book. I was intrigued by the synopsis and high hopes for the book. Unfor
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Michael David (on hiatus)
Caldonbrae Hall is an all-girls boarding school in Scotland. It has been a prominent school for over 150 years. 26-year old Rose Christie is the newest teacher they’ve had in years, and also the youngest. She is hired on as a Classics teacher with a Latin focus. As excited as she is for this new journey, she quickly realizes that not all is as great as it seems.

The students she teaches treat with her with disrespect, the Headmaster barely gives her the time of day, and the rest of the staff are
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Jayme
For 150 years Caldonbrae Hall (called Hope by the staff) has been an all girls boarding school, preparing young ladies to emerge “resilient and ready to serve society”.

Or at least-ready to serve a certain component of society.

All the male teachers are called Sir, and all of the female teachers will be addressed as “Madam”.

You will “buy into” their traditions or you will pay the price. That refers to both the students and the staff.

So, when a new Head of Department is needed for “Classics” the
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megs_bookrack
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
When 26-year old, Rose Christie, gets hired to teach Classics at the illustrious, Caldonbrae Hall, she's understandably nervous about the placement.

Caldonbrae, a traditional boarding school for girls, is a far cry from the public schools Rose has taught in previously. Indeed, from the start, she's out of her element.



Her trepidation doesn't improve as classes begin. The young ladies treat her with contempt and an overall lack of respect.

She is astounded that such well-groomed girls would think it
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Ceecee
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5

In 1992 Rose Christie is employed at Calonbrae Hall, a boarding school in Scotland for girls of wealthy and influential families. She is to be the new Head of Classics, a step up the career ladder and a good promotion as she’s only in her mid twenties. She soon learns the school is not the place she thought or hoped it might be as they try to control her in various ways as they churn out girls more suited to the social ideas of the nineteenth century than the late twentieth.

I had high hopes
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Anna Klein
Dec 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus for the digital ARC of this book!

Trigger warning: paedophilia, child abuse, sexual harassment

God, this was hard to get through. I was very willing to give this a fair chance, would even say I was excited for it, but the longer I read the worse this got. Some of my issues with it, in no particular order:

-The racism and tokenisation of people of colour, and tied to that, the main character Rose's white-saviour attitude. The diverse representation in this book con
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Jenny Lawson
Mar 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
This genre is totally my jam but I had a hard time not wanting to throttle the characters sometimes. 3.5 stars
Emma
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
As a trainee history teacher who also wants to teach Latin and Classics, this book was irresistible. A prestigious boarding school, a new Classics teacher, some kind of dark past with the potential for murder most foul. It was ticking all the right boxes.

BUT... I could see where this was going long before the main character- and I doubt I'm the only one. Rose, our heroine, is a terrible teacher and an awful narrator, ineffective at every damn thing she tries to do. The plot is patchy and full o
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Ellie
Caldonbrae was less of a school, and more of an elite institution containing its own churning practices, a forever fortess turning within itself.


Madam is such a beautifully atmospheric book, and it's one of my favourite things about it. The oppressive gloom of Caldonbrae Hall perching high on the cliffs above the grey sea, the bleak Scottish coastline flanking the school, the ghostly haar fogs and torrential sheets of near-constant wind and rain . . . it's a perfect setting for this female-
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Rachel
Sep 06, 2021 rated it did not like it
Mamma mia where do I begin.

Despite having a deliciously enticing premise, Madam fails on just about every level. Set at the fictional Scottish all girls’ boarding school Caldonbrae Hall, Madam introduces Rose, a bright young ingenue of a teacher who gets a job as the head of Caldonbrae’s Classics department — notably and oddly, she’s the school’s first outside hire in over a decade. She arrives at Caldonbrae and quickly discerns that there is fuckery afoot.

The entire function of Rose’s characte
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Alexis Hall
This was … a thing I read? I’m not sure it super worked for me, despite it seeming to be the sort of thing I’d like? Since it centres on a naïve young classics teacher joining an elite board school of the gothic AF variety that, of course, turns out to be evil AF too. That’s not a spoiler but this review will contain spoilers throughout.

So, y’know, you’ve been warned. Though I will say, the plot is kind of obvious from the get-go? There wasn’t a single twist that I didn’t see coming way, way bef
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Max
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely cleansing my palette with Madam after some of the questionable thrillers I've read taking place in schools. Madam is exceptional at using the school setting to both make it eerie and use the protagonist's own classics lessons as foreshadowing.


Rose is very rootable in the sense of how bold she is. While she is trying to maintain a job at this extremely prestigious and secretive school, she is outspoken and ready to take a stand. While it may not come across that way when you start read
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Tammy
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A brooding boarding school in Scotland, a teacher who left under circumstances no one seems willing to discuss and students who know more than they are letting on. I couldn’t resist reading it. According to the publisher this novel contains “shades of The Secret History, The Stepford Wives and a dash of Circe.” Well, yes and no. There is a small group of students studying the classics at an elite school. So, there’s that but the teacher is in over her head, the students are less than willing sch ...more
Kristy
A gothic boarding school tale that falls flat

Rose Christie is nervous but excited when she's hired on as the new Head of Classics at Caldonbrae Hall, a boarding school for girls in Scotland. A renowned establishment for 150 years, Caldonbrae is a far step above Rose's current teaching gig and will offer a chance to help her mother, who is struggling with MS. Rose is the first external hire in over a decade, making her an immediate outsider, along with her youthful age. She quickly feels over her
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Madeline
Sep 07, 2022 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ugh
File under: LOL, you tried.

(Although when I decided to read this book, I broke my cardinal rule of "don't read books that claim to be 'for fans of The Secret History' because that is always, always a lie" so who's the real idiot here?)

The true tragedy is that, because this book relies so heavily on The Twist, I can't fully get into all the ways the novel fails on every possible level, because to do so would require spoiling The Twist - yeah, I can write a review and hide it because of spoilers,
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Provin Martin
Mar 03, 2022 rated it liked it
This was neither the best nor the worst book I have ever read. It’s a story about a teacher (rose)at a prestigious private all girls school. All the teachers are referred to as Madam, which can be quite confusing. Rose teaches the girls about Greek goddesses in an attempt to instill power and self-sufficiency into them. Although the school is quite odd, it gets even more odd when Rose finds out the school is just preparing the young women to be wives. This makes some of the classes very absurd. ...more
luce (so' morta dentro)
DNF 25%

When netgalley approved my requested for Madam I was low-key ecstatic. However, my giddiness was short lived.
This was not the Gothic story I was hoping it would be...the 'boarding school' setting leaves a lot to be desired and although on GR this novel falls under the LGBTQ+ genre this is not a queer novel (even if I haven't finished it I have a feeling that there may be one side character who is queer). I probably could have been fine with Madam not being a very Gothic or sapphic read b
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Nadia
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Caldonbrae Hall, a prestigious girls boarding school with a long history and tradition located on a remote Scottish peninsula, has hired a new teacher, which had not happened for a decade. Rose is a young Classics teacher who is very excited and honoured to be chosen to teach at Caldonbrae. However, as soon as she arrives in Scotland, it is obvious that this is an unusual school, and education does not appear to be the main focus here. 

Rose's story is enriched with mythological tales of strong w
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Chandler Baker
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Imagine if Donna Tartt and Margaret Atwood got together to write a creepy, suspenseful novel about a school for young women in the Scottish Highlands. The result is Madam, a book I couldn't for the life of me put down. Brooding and unsettling, Wynne paints a gorgeous picture that only serves to camouflage the dark secrets she's hidden within. ...more
Quirkyreader
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
First off, I won this as a goodreads giveaway. Thank you St. Martins Press.

This book gripped me from the first and I wanted to finish it in one sitting.

If you liked “The Handmaid’s Tale”, this goes way beyond it. Mostly what I though was unnerving about this story is that parts of it might actually be true.

Read it and find out what I mean.
Carrie
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Madam by Phoebe Wynne is a gothic historical mystery/thriller set in a boarding school on the Scottish cliffs. Of course with my love of creepy boarding school thrillers I thought I would love this one but unfortunately as the saying goes we can’t love them all.

Rose Christie is the first new teacher hired at the elite Caldonbrae Hall in over a decade. At 26 years old Rose is proud to be the new head of the classics department but stepping into the halls of Caldonbrae Hall Rose quickly begins to
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Mara
I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this one - it is set at a creepy all girls boarding school in Scotland where things are *not as they seem* and I liked that there was an element of purposeful disorientation on the part of the author. That said, I think the delivery on the promise of the premise was not as strong as I would have liked, and I think the metaphor, while relevant, was rather on the nose. Still, this kept my interest and I think for a debut, this was pretty entertaining
Katie Colson
Nov 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This has Catherine House vibes.
It’s eerie and you’re not sure why. Everyone’s in on it and you’re the only one in the dark. It’s claustrophobic and suspenseful. You’re trying to connect dots but then you wish you hadn’t.

I really enjoyed this. I’m not sure why it has gotten such mixed reviews.
Ashley Daviau
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I had a feeling I’d enjoy this book but I had no idea that I’d love it so much that it would become a contender for my favourite book of the year! It might be classified as a slow burn in true gothic mystery fashion but it was absolutely riveting and I never felt like I wanted the pace to pick up, a slow burn was perfect for this story. I was hooked from start to finish and I couldn’t put the book down, I had a deep burning desire to find out how it would turn out. I really couldn’t have loved t ...more
Ellie Spencer
Rounded down from around 3.5 Stars

Madam follows Rose, the new classics teacher at a mysterious and foreboding boarding school. Tradition, class and secrets run rampant throughout the school. Nothing is as it seems, and the power the school holds over Rose's life is more than she could have ever expected.

I absolutely loved the setting of this novel. The boarding school in the wilds of Scotland felt deeply disturbing and was a perfect back drop for a thriller. I found myself speeding through the
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Bandit
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was done a great disservice on Netgalley by being categorized as women’s fiction. I almost passed it by, but gothic mystery grabbed my attention, especially with this being October and all and sure enough…definitely not women’s fiction. I mean, it’s written by a woman and features primarily all female cast, so maybe technically, but not in any way that matters. What this book is…is a work of feminist dystopian fiction, handmaids in boarding school. Because so much of feminist dystopias ...more
Yvonne G
Mar 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Light a fire they can’t put out”

OMG! I really just don’t know where to begin with this review. I generally try not to research any reviews by my fellow readers until I have finished reading a book for myself and having now done that, I realise just how divided opinion is about both the storyline and writing style. For me personally, the only slight disappointment, if you can call it that, is the length of the book, which might have been a little overdone, although I’m not sure it would have had
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Sheila
2 stars--meh. Interesting idea but poor execution. Rose, the main character, annoyed me with her passivity. Characters acted and spoke in a manner that didn't feel realistic. I should have believed the other reviews of this one. ...more
Jasmine
Apr 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

I was so excited to read this novel, but I mostly ended up becoming frustrated with it.

The reader is introduced to Rose Christie who has recently been hired to teach Latin at the prestigious and highly exclusive boarding school, Caldonbrae Hall in Scotland. Rose soon discovers that in addition to the school being extremely elitist, it is just as outdated and more nefarious than she ever could have anticipated. She finds out that female teachers are addressed as “Madam” and all male te
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Phoebe Wynne studied Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London and Education at King’s College, London. She worked in education for eight years, teaching Classics in the south of England as well as English Language and Literature in Paris, France. Phoebe left the classroom to focus on her writing; she went on to hone her craft in writing classes in Los Angeles and in London.

Phoebe has dual
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Articles featuring this book

In literature, the term “Gothic” is a notoriously slippery designation. Ask a dozen English professors what it means, and you’ll get a dozen...
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“We must use the errors of the past to reflect on our own future” 3 likes
“Clearly that's how they do things. Besides, nepotism is how Britain is run, so why shouldn't we benefit from it?” 1 likes
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