The Rehearsal Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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'As debuts go, this one is astral - as well as teasing, intelligent and knowing - Catton anatomises brilliantly the psychology of youth, its sexual mores, it's posing pretentiousness, its worries, its bravado - So much accomplishment carried so lightly' Scotsman 'It represents a starburst of talent and the arrival of an author wholly different from anyone else writing today' Sunday Times 'Timeframes overlap and collide in this ingenious ontological kaleidoscope of a debut, but the experimentalism - which demands that the reader keep all her wits about her - is tempered by a real knack for narrative and a cast of painfully familiar teenage characters who are all desperate to be as confident, cool, charismatic and funny as possible. These are qualities that the extraordinary Eleanor Catton has in spades' The Times 'The Rehearsal is no rehearsal. It's a supremely confident piece of writing - the clarity of its thought and language make it a definite contender for debut of the year' Independent 'Brilliant - What Catton does so strikingly, and in such honeyed prose, is to capture the essence of adolescents - Catton has formidable talent' Daily Mail 'This astonishing debut novel from young New Zealander Eleanor Catton is a cause for surprise and celebration: smart, playful and self-possessed, it has the glitter and mystery of the true literary original - the prose is so arresting, the storytelling so seductive, that wherever the book falls open it's near-impossible to put down' Guardian
'A wonderful debut by a truly exciting new writer' - Kate Atkinson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is quite confusing to read, as you are never really sure which scenes are part of the play and which are `real'. I'd read about 50 pages of the book before I realised that chapters starting with a day of the week were about the school pupils and ones titled with a month were set in the drama school, but although this information helped a lot I was still confused about many things.
The book realistically portrays teenagers, managing to capture that uncertainty and awkwardness. I was particularly impressed by the insecurites of a younger sibling:
"No, Isolde says, `I will make the same mistakes, but by the time I do they won't seem interesting because you'll already have done it, and I'll only be a copy.'"
The teenage banter was witty and insightful, but the plot was almost non-existent. I was particularly disappointed by the ending, as the book just stopped without reaching any real conclusion.
I am still trying to decide if I liked The Rehearsal or not. I can't work out whether this book is genius, or just trying too hard to be clever. If The Rehearsal had been written in chronological order I suspect it might have been a fairly average read. Does confusing your readers make a book incredibly good, or does it just hide any flaws in a cloak of confusion? Despite my uncertainty The Rehearsal is the most impressive book I've found on the Orange long list so far and I'd be happy to see it win.
Overall I enjoyed reading this book for the individual passages, but it was too clever to work as a novel for me.
Deeply unusual and quirky, The Rehearsal centres around a high school sex scandal that becomes the fodder for a drama school play. Private lives tangle with public performance, and the scandal and its effects play out in the whole community. What's real and what's performance? It's sometimes hard to tell, but the sharply witty dialogue and the oddly compelling (but not always appealing!) characters keep you intrigued and guessing how the two will collide.
I have to say that, had I not read this book, I would be sceptical about the whole premise. It sounds a bit too 'clever clever'. And yet - The Rehearsal makes for a great read; it's gripping, funny, smart and moving at the same time.
Catton's novel is filled with drama tutors who are acutely aware of their own performances; insecure adolescents grappling with their sexuality and social lives at the same time; and teachers who manipulate their students, like puppets, for murky (and sometimes suspect!) motives. The most alarmingly odd and compelling character, a saxophone teacher whose commentary pervades the book, pronounces that young adulthood is merely a "rehearsal for everything that comes after".
Sharply drawn characters, a compelling plot and atmospheric dialogue makes this an excellent read. The Rehearsal is definitely unusual and fairly literary (as you might expect, as it's published by Granta) but it's also a funny, poignant and highly relevant contemporary look at what it means to grow up in the media-dominated 21st century.
My initial impression was that the book was intriguing. Here's the saxophone teacher addressing a mother: "I require of all my students, that they are downy and pubescent, pimpled with sullen mistrust, and boiling away with private fury and ardour and uncertainty and gloom ... If I am to teach your daughter, you darling hopeless and inadequate mother, she must be moody and bewildered and awkward and dissatisfied and wrong."
Intrigue soon gave way to frustration. I lack the patience and the inclination to ponder the improbable, non-linear plot. I also lack the patience to work out what is real, what is imagined, and what it might all mean. The insurmountable hurdle was that I just could not care less about any of the characters. About halfway through I resorted to reading the plot summary on Wikipedia. Never a good sign. At that point, I started to skip ahead. I was invariably struck by the simple and accessible quality of the writing, but also how this was married to a tedious "plot" and dull characters.
Plenty of people love this book. Some of the scenes are intriguing, and the book is very well written, ultimately though its lack of credibility and coherence was distracting and annoying. I suspect the extent to which a reader might enjoy this book would largely depend on his or her tolerance for ambiguity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very different to the award winning novel, but a unique and ironic analysis of teachers and student interactions.Published 8 months ago by SH
Found it difficult to engage with this. Quality writing and premise, but just couldn't connect with characters and format.Published 10 months ago by CR
Life is too short to spend any time on this. Music teacher and pupil seemingly going nowhere. I gave up.Published 13 months ago by C Ritic
Every time I read it , or listened to it , it made me feel like I was in prison ; not a good feeling at all!Published 18 months ago by Alexandra Baily
Hmm... all very clever I'm sure. But there were a few too many moments where this novel felt like it was taking the moral and intellectual high ground. Read morePublished 18 months ago by megmerrett
I don't read highly acclaimed authors very often; mostly because I end up hating the 'wonderful' novels. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Beth