Book Review – All Girls by Emily Layden

First published, February 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story is set in an all girls boarding school in New England where, as the students arrive for the new school year, boards have been erected all around the area of the school, stating that a rapist works there.

What follows is a well-written story, with multiple perspectives and many characters, as they approach adulthood with their own issues, personality traits and problems and – it’s a bit muddled.

When the ending comes it’s a bit tepid. By that point, I was working so hard trying to remember who everybody was that I just wanted all the pranks to have been carried out by a teacher, government official or a member of the alumni. Some sort of massive twist as a payoff would have felt a bit more… well, a bit more. It just seemed like so much of the book was about the girls that the story slipped out of focus. The writing is highbrow and very detailed, and the characters are elitist but they have their own sense of community.

It just lacked substance for me.

“Mrs. Brodie seems to fit the room she occupies, which is not to say that she is cavernous but that she is equally impressive: tall, thin, with angled cheekbones and beady, dark eyes. Today she is in her standard uniform – a kind of androgynous set popular among series and still-working women in their sixties and seventies, khakis beneath a turtleneck and a red cardigan, topped with a patterned silk scarf in a loose knot, centred at her sternum. Louisa imagines that Mrs. Brodie was pretty in her own way, once, in the way that skinny and angular people are.”
from page 83-84, Vol. CCII, Issue No. I, All Girls by Emily Layden