Review | Friday 31 July 2009
The Rehearsal is a provocative, strange and remarkable book by Eleanor Catton – a 24-year-old who has won numerous prizes, a Fellowship to the Iowa Writers Workshop and has written a mature, confident first novel that I really enjoyed.
The story plays out between two schools of performing arts; an elite drama institute and a music school, where the teenage students are traumatised when one of the girls is caught sleeping with a teacher. As rumour and details of the affair spread through the music school and in the media, the drama students decide to re-enact the scandal for their end-of-year production. The two interrelated stories unfold expertly, climaxing with the end of year drama production and the music school’s recital.
This book isn’t conventional; the characters are presented like actors on a stage – soliloquies are plentiful, lighting is adjusted to suit moods, and emotions are dramatised as the teenagers rehearse their newfound roles as sexual beings. I hope you are intrigued; this is a fun novel full of razor-sharp insights and a delicious authenticity that will get you thinking.