Author of The End of Mr Y is back with new novel set in the grounds of private schools, Russian oligarchs and eating disorders on social media. Scarlett Thomas has given us the pacey and riveting Oligarchy, which has tones of contemporary fiction and yet, also thriller, a novel that is considered The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for the digital age.
Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. Her widely-acclaimed novels include PopCo, The End of Mr Y and The Seed Collectors. She has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, shortlisted for the South African Boeke Prize and was once the proud recipient of an Elle Style Award. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing & Contemporary Fiction at the University of Kent in the UK.
It’s already the second week of term when Natasha, the daughter of a Russian oligarch, arrives at a vast English country house for her first day of boarding school. She soon discovers that the headmaster gives special treatment to the skinniest girls, and Natasha finds herself thrown into the school’s unfamiliar, moneyed world of fierce pecking orders, eating disorders, and Instagram angst. When her friend Bianca vanishes, presumed suicide through eating disorder, a looming darkness descends upon the school.
Swimming parallel to the stories of Tasha and Bianca is the story of Princess Augusta, the White Lady whose portraits?featuring a hypnotising black diamond?hang everywhere across the school. She fell in love with a commoner and drowned herself in the lake, and her ghost is said to haunt the dorms. But the girls don’t really know anything about the woman she was, much less anything about each other.
Scarlett Thomas captures the lives of extremely privileged teenage girls seeking to be loved and accepted in all that haunts their day to day living. With the help of her diet-obsessed classmates, Tash must try to stay alive?and sane?while she uncovers what’s really going on. Whilst also trying to develop some further relationship with her father who simply sends her a card to buy her own “essentials” there is the dual mystery of his life and the reasons affecting his inability to meet with his own daughter.
With an intriguing synopsis, dark humour and pacey writing style, you will want to read on after picking up Oligarchy to find out more about the fate of these girls and the truth behind Bianca’s disappearance. A sinister yet brilliant read.
Oligarchy is available now, published by Canongate Books