The Rehearsal

Eleanor Catton (Y)

The Rehearsal
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The Rehearsal

Eleanor Catton (Y)

A dazzlingly assured and bold novel revolving around a school sex scandal …

A high-school sex scandal jolts a group of teenage girls into a new awareness of their own potency and power. The sudden and total publicity seems to turn every act into a performance and every platform into a stage. But when the local drama school decides to turn the scandal into a show, the real world and the world of the theatre are forced to meet, and soon the boundaries between private and public begin to dissolve.

The Rehearsal is an exhilarating and provocative novel about the unsimple mess of human desire, at once a tender evocation of its young protagonists and a shrewd expose of emotional compromise.


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.

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