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The New Girl [Paperback]

Emily Perkins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 May 2002
Emily Perkins brings her sharp wit and compassionate gaze to small-town life; the result is a compelling and touching read.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (10 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330376012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330376013
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

In her second novel The New Girl, Emily Perkins tells a tale of three indivisible friends brought up in a small town whose comfortable childhood certainties are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a mysterious and troubling stranger from the city. It is a hot, sultry and unsettling summer in a tiny provincial town where very little happens. Or so it seems. Inseparable friends Julia, Chicky and Rachel finish school and await their exam results, worrying as much about how they will pass the summer as how they will spend the future. Boys are for sex, girls are for true friendship and what to do about now being almost grown up is a pressing matter to be avoided. Unexpectedly into their midst comes the raven-haired, red-lipped Miranda, exuding urbanity and challenging the youth of the town to a risky voyage of collective self-discovery.

In flight from her own messy sexual affairs, Miranda is intrigued by the "threeness" of Julia, Chicky and Rachel, "like crass, mall rat versions of Chekhov's sisters, they seemed utterly different yet very much at ease with one another". Her relentless curiosity extends to their parents, lovers and friends. Gradually Miranda seduces the town and those not seduced are scandalised. None are safe from the emotional upheavals sparked by Miranda's search for the personal tragedies and family secrets on which the small town is built. For some, the consequences will be fatal. For all, they will be irreversible.

The small town, sweltering landscape and unforgiving city are unnamed in The New Girl, giving the novel the enduring feel of a modern fable. Against this archetypal landscape, the emotional terrain of Perkins' characters is sharply drawn in a story that makes tangible the points of connection and rupture between people and their often oblivious impact on each other. In a style that crackles with the hormonal electricity of youth, Perkins has captured exactly the aching expectation of young women on the brink of adulthood. The intimate "threeness" of Julia, Chicky, Rachel--and all their school friends--is challenged at exactly that fork in the road where their deeply entwined amity and enmity is finally divided over who wants to stay and who wants to go. By tracing the pathways of those who attempt to get away, Perkins ensures that the difficulties of escape and the brittle realities of urbanity are not sentimentalised. --Rachel Holmes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

It is the beginning of the summer holidays in a town in the middle of nowhere. Julia and her best friends Chicky and Rachel are school leavers emerging from their girlhood and waiting for the future. They - and their parents - are excited when Miranda, a charismatic and exotically beautiful woman from the city, arrives to teach a summer class. Miranda encourages curiosity and independence among her charges, but she also casts a shadow: the lifelong bonds between the girls begin to dissipate; confidences are broken; Julia yearns for the city, for an escape from boys who drink beer and race stolen cars across the gravel down by the bridge. But Miranda has her own doubts and betrayals. She too is asking: when will I be found out? The New Girl is a novel about girls and the women who shape them; about influence, identity, individual freedom and group responsibility.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 26 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found "The New Girl" an enjoyable and stimulating read. The story follows a group of teenagers who have just completed their high school exams and are spending their last summer of 'school holidays' before they go on to work, family life or college. As they wait for their exam results they are provided with a period of time in which to reflect upon the directions that their futures could take. This process of transformation is emphasised when Miranda arrives from the city to take a class with this group which aims to help them to explore 'themselves'.

I think that Emily Perkins manages to portray 'smalltown' life very well, for example - the claustrophobia (echoed in the atmosphere and weather) of everyone knowing you and the inability to easily slip into new identities as those around you have a firm idea of who you already are; the comfort of familiar surroundings and the loyalties of the people who 'belong' there; and the built up hostilities and resentments of the town. Alongside this she presents the city as a place of opportunity, somewhere where your life can head off in several different directions. This contrasts with the stale picture of smalltown life where people seem to get stuck in a predictable pattern. However, the city is also a place where things can go wrong and then you find yourself alone.

I felt that this book gave me plenty to think about, especially in relation to the 'big' decisions we take in our life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, evocative one-sitting read. 27 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I read 'The New Girl' on the strength of the blurb and magazine reviews, and was for the most part, thoroughly pleased with the novel. Perkins has painted in Julia, Rachel and Chicky, three girls we all know, and grow to like, pity or dislike. Meanwhile, Miranda is an anti-hero for our time - deliciously self-absorbed and to a degree, quite wretched. The dialogue is tight and accurate, and the descriptions evocative. The only issue I took with it was the fact that their hometown was unnamed, so I had some difficulty in placing the scenes geographically. But that didn't hinder me in spending a whole afternoon engrossed in this novel. Highly recommended, and a novel I wish I'd written...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Read 27 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback
This book is excellent at getting under the skin of small-town life. Set over one long, hot summer, Miranda - the brash city girl - steadily turns peoples lives inside out. The POV shifts constantly, but Emily Perkins keeps a steady hand on the plot, and it shifts and turns smoothly.

Miranda isn't really a very nice person. She is easily bored, and examines the younger girls as though they are lab rats, provided for her entertainment. How they perceive her is interesting and helps the story to develop.

It's another good read from a little known writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very insightful about relationships 2 April 2006
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This engrossing story about breaking free is built around relationships that Perkins describes with great perspicacity - what makes up friendships, how daughters might relate to mothers and fathers, or husbands to wives. The plot twists unpredictably as these relationships are challenged by the arrival of Miranda, the beautiful catalyst.
Men and how they relate to their wives and daughters are scrutinised and, perhaps, implicitly criticised the most.
Worth reading, even if the device of not naming the place or geographical area grates.
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