As soon as I find out there’s a book about boarding school to read, I’m there. I’m just a little bit spurred on by the fact I went to boarding school myself at the age of 11 (encouraged by reading books by Enid Blyton, in fact), and so I’ll eat up any book on the subject. Harry Potter was quite a thing, after all.
S.T.A.G.S. is far from being Hogwarts, however.
The main character, Greer, is at a prestigious private school (St. Aidan The Great School, which doesn’t in real life exist), on scholarship, among many wealthy kids from aristocracy. She feels out of place and is both somehow reluctant and desperate to fit in.
She gets invited on a fancy ‘hunting, shooting, fishing’ weekend by the top group of kids at the school, known as the Medievals, and led by the dashing but snobbish and rather repugnant Henry de Warlencourt.
Greer is both blown away by the lifestyle of these wealthy young elites, who are used to being tended on by servants, and somehow as if they are grooming her to be one of them, along with two other ‘Savages’ like her. The whole weekend is filled with fine foods, and the activities of Old, (the hunt, shooting pheasant, and fishing), and connection to the outside world is abandoned. The three of these invited students suddenly seem like the hunted and the weekend turns very sour.
While the story was exciting to read in general, I have good things to say about this book and few misgivings. The premise of these three invitees being trapped with these Medievals, these kids who are sometimes so nauseating (and I’ve met some of them in my past) is spot on, and becomes frightening. The hunt and the shoot can be hard to stomach (I am dead set against these antiquated ‘sports of Old) and can’t stand the glee taken by the wealthy in thinking that these pasttimes that connect them to the past should be glorified. But I really relished how the author depicted life in the stately home, and loved how Bennett also wrote about Greer’s connection to
her father through watching old movies together (especially since I’m a film buff).
The ending was pretty clever and wound tightly in a neat bow, and overall this is a entertaining read. I think especially so for American readers, since this is highly ‘British’ in its approach and plot.
While this is already out in the UK, thank you for the early release from NetGalley for the book here in the US.