The Truants
‘Where do I find Crime?’‘Crime doesn’t have its own section,’ said the librarian without looking up, ‘it’s all under fiction.’In this seductive coming-of-age debut, Jess Walker, a young and uninitiated first year student, falls in love with two great story-tellers. One, Alec, a journalist in exile, the other, Lorna, a charismatic literature professor. Starting out under the flat grey skies of an east Anglian university campus and ending up on an idyllic Mediterranean island, The Truants is about a group of clever and eccentric misfits who yearn to break the rules. As Jess’ experience of infatuation and betrayal, disappearance and loss gives way to a breathless search for the truth, she finds herself detective in a twisted crime of the heart. Unsettling, challenging, surprisingly funny and beautifully written, The Truants is a compulsively readable literary debut with a twist – and a dead body to boot.

The Truants Details

TitleThe Truants
Author
ReleaseAug 8th, 2019
PublisherPutnam
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary

The Truants Review

  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    For some reason, I found myself thinking about the view of the golf course out of the bay windows at Milton View. How I’d stared at it for eighteen years, yearning for a bigger world to live in, thinking I could find it through books, clawing at make-believe in the hope I’d draw blood. Dear God, I thought with a sudden shiver. Was this the “real world” I’d been trying to find? the name-drops to donna tartt and muriel spark are great bait, as though i needed any bait to read a campus novel about For some reason, I found myself thinking about the view of the golf course out of the bay windows at Milton View. How I’d stared at it for eighteen years, yearning for a bigger world to live in, thinking I could find it through books, clawing at make-believe in the hope I’d draw blood. Dear God, I thought with a sudden shiver. Was this the “real world” I’d been trying to find? the name-drops to donna tartt and muriel spark are great bait, as though i needed any bait to read a campus novel about obsession with charismatic and unstable figures, betrayal, and tragic seeeecrets. this is not a thriller; it’s a slowly-building character-driven narrative whose dramatic happenings are on a somewhat smaller scale than The Secret History and whose emphasis is more upon the shifting interpersonal dynamics of its characters than on its mystery angle. the set-up is very conventional for a book of this genre: jess is an eighteen-year-old girl with personal and academic ambitions, desperate to escape her banal middle-class hometown of milton view, norfolk, where “everything ugly or interesting was edited out,” and to avoid turning into her quietly unfulfilled parents.For the most part, my parents seemed to me neither noticeably happy nor unhappy, but behaved with each other much as many of my friends’ parents behaved: like two adults without much in common who happened to be thrown together on a long car journey. Drawn-out conversations about logistics, silences filled by the welcome distraction of other voices on the radio, and the recurrent niggle that things would be better if they had taken a slightly different route. beguiled by a book of literary criticism called The Truants by dr. lorna clay, she enrolls in the university of east anglia to study under this woman she so admires, ending up in lorna’s agatha christie seminar,“Murdered by the Campus.” once there, she quickly befriends georgie—a buxom socialite as careless and wealthy as any fitzgerald character, whose excesses in both drugs and alcohol pair well with her equally dramatic emotional excesses. georgie begins dating alec—a hearse-driving south african post-grad journalist whose work frequently puts him in dangerous situations. jess mistrusts him as much as she is intrigued by him, even as she begins dating geology-student nick, and the four become surface-level inseparable, despite all the cracks in the foundation of their friendship. lorna’s teaching style is one that blurs the boundaries between classroom and personal space—a practice which forced her to leave her last position, the details of which are murky and scandalously titillating. lorna sees something in jess’ raw clay, or in her naked adoration of her, that is appealing enough to befriend and mentor her, intensifying jess’ covetous regard. bad things happen, as they must, as jess is led into the selfish irresponsibility of youthful folly, and when everything begins falling apart, lorna shuttles jess away to her italian-island hideaway, where many shattering seeeecrets will come out. this is a coming-of-age story about consequences, pedestal syndrome, and the loss of illusions. jess is the narrator, looking back over these experiences six years later, and as such, it is her story and her insights, even though she is the least interesting character in the book—although nick’s ‘you are what you study’ emotional rock-steadiness is also pretty undramatic. compared to the magnetic personalities of lorna, georgie, and alec, jess is an emotionally immature blank slate; a quiet observer just starting to come into her own; test-driving her emerging self in the shadowy proximity of these larger-than-life personalities upon whom she is pinning her unhealthy fascinations. others see more depth and promise in her than the reader encounters on the page, which might be down to her self-effacement and insecurity in the thrall of more grandiose personalities. her role here is almost voyeuristic in nature, a position made literal by her first encounter with nick—making eye contact with him as he intercourses a woman who is not georgie in the back of his hearse, but continues in figurative echoes throughout—a girl attracted to confident, charismatic people, an outsider yearning to be what they are, watching and admiring, blind to the flaws beneath their shine. weinberg writes about this tender developmental stage beautifully—all the testing of wings, pushing of boundaries, the self-destructive habits of newly felt independence, the vitality of college friendships and the manifestations of love in all its different forms. there are so many great lines here; she captures the pain of heartbreak perfectly—not just the icepick immediacy of one’s own personal heartbreak, but also in a more academic remove, during a lecture about christie’s mysterious eleven-day disappearance after learning of her husband’s infidelity:”The whole country was looking for her. Five hundred police officers and fifteen thousand volunteers. But what she wanted, desperately, was the attention of one person.” Lorna looked at us, her eyes very shiny. “Agatha wasn’t breaking down or seeking revenge. She just wanted him to be thinking about her. All the time, like he used to.”as far as campus novels go, and i’ve read more than a few, this one may be less flashy than many, but it’s a point in its favor that it’s not trying to be a The Secret History reworking. it has a quiet intensity that i found compelling, and it is an excellent, very promising, debut.come to my blog!
    more
  • Louise Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Jess Walker is middle class and about to start university. She chose the university due to her obsession with the academic Lorna Clay, whose book "The Truants" is about writers having to push themselves to reach their goals. The Truants is about a clever group of misfits who yearn to break the rules.The concept sounded just right. Young people trying to find themselves in each other. The book is told from Jess's point of view. There is the usual mix of campus stuff going on but some of it was no Jess Walker is middle class and about to start university. She chose the university due to her obsession with the academic Lorna Clay, whose book "The Truants" is about writers having to push themselves to reach their goals. The Truants is about a clever group of misfits who yearn to break the rules.The concept sounded just right. Young people trying to find themselves in each other. The book is told from Jess's point of view. There is the usual mix of campus stuff going on but some of it was not what I expected. The book is well written. The characters are messy. I did like this book but I also found myself wanting more. I will read more from this author in future.I would like to thank NetGalley, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) and the author Kate Weinberg for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    I had been saving this for a sunny day, and I read it on a sunny day, and it was perfect; my memories of it will forever be infused with a sort of glow that could've come from the weather or from the story – perhaps a combination of both. The Truants is another Secret-History-esque campus novel, this one set at the University of East Anglia, where deliberately bland protagonist Jess gets close to a lecturer she idolises and becomes embroiled in a thorny love triangle. (You know the drill, and yo I had been saving this for a sunny day, and I read it on a sunny day, and it was perfect; my memories of it will forever be infused with a sort of glow that could've come from the weather or from the story – perhaps a combination of both. The Truants is another Secret-History-esque campus novel, this one set at the University of East Anglia, where deliberately bland protagonist Jess gets close to a lecturer she idolises and becomes embroiled in a thorny love triangle. (You know the drill, and you probably know from that sentence whether you'll want to read this or not.) It's a formula that rarely fails to engage me, and this is a good treatment of it, following the tried-and-tested beats and adding just enough spikes of excitement to keep you guessing. Reading it in one long, glorious gulp is the best way to go: it's difficult to believe in some of the characters and their behaviour, but for a few engrossing hours I was able to set all that aside and just soak up the fantastic storytelling.I received an advance review copy of The Truants from the publisher through Edelweiss.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
    more
  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    This is my ideal summer/beach/switch-off reading: it's literate without being literary and has enough love, sex, desire, secrets, death, grief and obsession to keep the pages turning rapidly. Essentially this is a campus novel and a tale of growing up, and is excellent on depicting sexual chemistry and friendship.There are lots of implausibilities most obviously the idea of a university lecturer becoming best friends with an 18 year old undergraduate she teaches so that they socialise and holida This is my ideal summer/beach/switch-off reading: it's literate without being literary and has enough love, sex, desire, secrets, death, grief and obsession to keep the pages turning rapidly. Essentially this is a campus novel and a tale of growing up, and is excellent on depicting sexual chemistry and friendship.There are lots of implausibilities most obviously the idea of a university lecturer becoming best friends with an 18 year old undergraduate she teaches so that they socialise and holiday together. But if you can swallow this, then you're in for a satisfying read that is both warm and compelling.
    more
  • Travel.with.a.book
    January 1, 1970
    Kate has written a prose to be remembered for a long time! We devoured the writings of The Truants with a dazzling moment, her stories are so interesting and elaborated really great! The dynamic of the secrets goes beyond of what we've read previously and makes the book so unique and flawless in its own way! .The mysteries are shocking and the characters are build in such a perfect way, their detailed life and emotions are so complexed! I loved the well crafted stories, all the characters were s Kate has written a prose to be remembered for a long time! We devoured the writings of The Truants with a dazzling moment, her stories are so interesting and elaborated really great! The dynamic of the secrets goes beyond of what we've read previously and makes the book so unique and flawless in its own way! .The mysteries are shocking and the characters are build in such a perfect way, their detailed life and emotions are so complexed! I loved the well crafted stories, all the characters were satisfying and intriguing to read! The depth of the emotions is so rare and addictive, you will have to swallow different and mixed emotions within this book that will be with you for a long time!.The narrator Jess which is the main character, is build in the book in a timeline and shows us her innocence self, the book is set in University campus, twists and mysteries are something to look in this book, dark sides and betrayals are filled through pages that will leave you breathless! Jess is studying English, and Lorna is a female lecturer! I LOVED the Agatha Christie's references, it made this debut a very impressive and one of our most favourite of the Year!
    more
  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★★✰✰✰ 2 stars This is the type of non-literary book that has literary aspirations yet its laboured attempts to imbue its story and characters with a certain dose of moral ambiguity and depth ultimately fall flat. In spite of its intriguing first few chapters The Truants soon followed the well-treaded path of similar campus/college novels: we have a main character who has a secret related to her past, she makes a new female friend who is more attractive and charming than she is, she falls for an ★★✰✰✰ 2 stars This is the type of non-literary book that has literary aspirations yet its laboured attempts to imbue its story and characters with a certain dose of moral ambiguity and depth ultimately fall flat. In spite of its intriguing first few chapters The Truants soon followed the well-treaded path of similar campus/college novels: we have a main character who has a secret related to her past, she makes a new female friend who is more attractive and charming than she is, she falls for an alluring man who has secrets of his own, and she also finds herself drawn to her professor, who also happens to have secrets of her own. I could have looked past the predictable and lacklustre dynamics around which the story pivots if the writing or the characters had revealed, at any point throughout the course of the novel, some depth or any other spark of vitality. Kate Weinberg's prose was competent enough but as the story is told through an unmemorable main character's point of view, much of it felt dull. The Truants reminded me a lot of The Lessons by Naomi Alderman (not a good thing). A more nuanced or interesting protagonist could have made this into a much more enjoyable novel. Our MC however is the typical forgettable young girl who somehow manages to attract the attention of people who seem a lot more fascinating than her...I write seem as I never quite believed that her guy (that's how interesting he is) and her teacher were as clever or as alluring as our narrator told us. And that's where the problem lies: she tells us that these two are such magnetic people. We are never shown exactly why they have such a powerful effect on her. This sort of introspective narrative can work...but here our MC's examination of this period of her life seemed somewhat artificial.I found this book engaging only when the characters discuss Agatha Christie. The rest is an overdrawn love triangle that is made to be far more tragic and destructive than what it is (dating for a few months when you are a first year uni student...is it as all-consuming as that?). The college aspect of the novel fades in the background, giving way to the usual melodramatic succession of betrayals and shocking secrets. If the characters had been more than thinly drawn clichés then I would have cared for this type of drama. While this novel was slightly better than other clique-focused releases (such as the campus novel Tell Me Everything and the artsy Fake Like Me) I would recommend you skip this one...maybe you could try the very entertaining If We Were Villains or Donna Tartt's seminal The Secret History or even the hugely underrated The House of Stairs.Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
    more
  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    The Truants sounded right up my street with a cast of non-conforming rebel students, but I must admit that I was astounded to find this is Weinberg's debut novel as it's such an accomplished, original book. It revolves around main protagonist, Jess, and her current feelings of being the centre of attention when she has only ever blended into crowds seamlessly to become anonymous. Campus novels don't usually work out well for me as I'm not such a big fan but this had everything associated with th The Truants sounded right up my street with a cast of non-conforming rebel students, but I must admit that I was astounded to find this is Weinberg's debut novel as it's such an accomplished, original book. It revolves around main protagonist, Jess, and her current feelings of being the centre of attention when she has only ever blended into crowds seamlessly to become anonymous. Campus novels don't usually work out well for me as I'm not such a big fan but this had everything associated with the subgenre but with more tension and the suspenseful atmosphere Weinberg creates is clearly a rare and raw talent. The intentional ambiguousness of the cast of characters will not float everyone's boat, however, I thought it made the story more mysterious and intriguing for me. Ultimately, The Truants is a coming-of-age novel that follows a group of youngsters as they navigate their way around their worlds. The characterisation is superb, the plot well constructed and the observations of the author are on point. This is a difficult book to categorise as it has elements of literary fiction, romance, young adult and thriller/mystery, but above all, it's a book that charts the growth of a group of university students who are trying to find themselves in a world where everything seems endlessly chaotic. Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC.
    more
  • Paulina (aspiringliterati)
    January 1, 1970
    ’This is the moment. Go. Grab it. Now.’I always fall for stories of passion. This, ultimately and at its very core, is one of that. What passion can do, how it can alter your life, tilt the world on its axis, the magnificent wonders it can bring to life and the catastrophes it can inflict on its victims.We meet Jess when she's entering her freshman year of college, seated on her dorm room's bed, writing an overly enthusiastic email to a would-be professor of hers — to professor Lorna whose cleve ’This is the moment. Go. Grab it. Now.’I always fall for stories of passion. This, ultimately and at its very core, is one of that. What passion can do, how it can alter your life, tilt the world on its axis, the magnificent wonders it can bring to life and the catastrophes it can inflict on its victims.We meet Jess when she's entering her freshman year of college, seated on her dorm room's bed, writing an overly enthusiastic email to a would-be professor of hers — to professor Lorna whose clever mind Jess fell in love with and who inspired her choice of undergrad school in the first place.Several pages in and after fictional vodka bottles shared, bubbly, infectious laughs heard, interesting conversations held, parties attended, strangers met and runs interrupted... Oh, I was so into it. I was invested and delighted in a way that makes you sit up straight while you read half lying down because something just happened and you can't keep still. You close your book and you open it again and the spark's still there and you're like, ‘oh my god I am loving this so much!' Only, I was like that for most of the book's length. Adding to the story that kept me at the edge of my seat just by throwing me crumbs of clues and my personal wants here and there and full on teasing, I was also (if not primarily? it takes skill at writing itself to come up with a story that good) drawn in by Kate Weinberg's style. Her words were reminiscent of Tana French and Donna Tartt (both I adore!) but they bore a tang of something else... maybe it was the realistic way the dialogue was written? With the swear words where they would have been in real life. No overly many look-it-up-in-the-dictionary words that make your head spin and glance at the cover thinking ‘nah, people don't talk like that but okay, moving on’. I had nothing to add, nothing to move on from and accept in defeat as everything was so vivid, realistic and sincere. Like I could walk into it like a scene of real life.As someone who rarely EVER even as much as sympathizes with main characters I took an instant liking to Jess. It may have had a lot to do with her desire to walk the line between risk and non-risk, her curiosity, her burning for passion. Or, well, her being very shy about it all, too if not most of all. Because who if not me would have written such an email to a professor I looked up to? Scratch that. I wrote one. Several ones, in fact. And who if not me would have madly crushed on someone for months on end like that? Haha. Needless to say I saw myself in Jess and I instantly smiled.I continued to adore her, I cheered her on as she was making bold moves (I would never have done myself) and went after what she wanted. I wanted her to break out of that shell and go. grab. it. Even if it meant mistakes made, trust broken and hearts shattered. Living, after all, happens in between all the plans we so carefully weave. Doesn't it?Other than of passion, it is, you see, a story about love. In 'The Truants' it happens to be both the wonder and the catastrophe, just depending on what your focus is. For me it was as obvious as arresting the white hot sensation creeping at the back of Jess's neck was. Her hidden, known only to her and to the reader tell that the air was sizzling and it was real, beautiful and perfect in that very moment. The one that I myself felt prickling at the back of mine, one that made me devour each and every page of this book with hunger and curiosity and just a little bit of envy, too.I can easily see readers siding with favorites of theirs and despising a character or two, or the whole bunch of them for poor choices, manipulation and sheer idiocy. You can take your pick and there's a character guilty of just that kind of deep, selfish fault. But then again without faults they would be all boring and there would be absolutely no story of self-discovery and longing to tell. We all tell stories that are only half true, we all hide our true feelings or don't talk about them at all, put on facades and soldier on with vices of different endgames helping us with the trek through life. Not that there's always an excuse and it's all perfectly acceptable. No it's not. We all just try our best to be happy. Just like them.The cast of characters, added to the ideal for its purposes setting somewhere very English in England, was what made this book for me (if you haven’t noticed after all that gushing above). There was Jess whom I adored.There was infuriating Georgie who reminded me of Dasha from 'The Bronze Horseman' but at the end of the day turned out to be just madly lost and wanting.There was Nick who was a goddamn angel, the only one of them without flaws, without faults. Nick whom we should all have to wrap us in a blanket when the storm's raging out and he's the shoulder to lean on.There was Lorna, too. The professor with air of mystery, hyped genius full of energizing sparks she sent out to steal your breath away if you were bold enough to dare and try to get close (bless you Jess for being bold).And there was, oh my, my Alec. (l said it once and I'll say it again: what is up with the name ‘Alexander’ in literature and the way it haunts me?!) He was a force, life itself, blazing hot, enticing and terrible. Need I say more? I would have been you, Jess, I get it, girl. I get it so much that it hurts.I read a partial review that said it was a book everyone would find something for themselves in. It was not wrong. The way I interpreted it could vastly differ from the way other readers may choose to see things for what they were to them. It's a skill, a sign of a talented writer doing their work well, that when you finally come up for air, having read it in one, breathless go, you end up feeling exhilarated and eager to discuss all. the. things. And that's not because you will readily find fellow readers with the same post-book ideas and you will just pat your backs and drink words from your mouths as if your own. It's much more likely that you will find discoveries and conclusions polarizing with your own. That right there speaks for intelligence the storywas written with. Last but not least I want to say 'The Truants' was like a bolt of lightning that almost hits that tree on top of a hill and makes the sky lit up. It doesn't hit it but from where you're standing it may as well have and the spectacle is grand. You snap a shot at just the right second. The beauty of nature at its most dangerous, most enhanced and ever so inviting.
    more
  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    The title refers to a book written by an enigmatic instructor at a university located in East Anglia. It also refers to the characters’ desire to shatter norms as they find their place in the world. The main character and narrator, Jess, learns much about obsession and its ramifications on truth. This is an acceptable campus novel complete with the usual secrets, deceit, and tragedy. The most compelling portions centered on discussions of Agatha Christie, triangles and disappearances.
    more
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc for an electronic copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest review."People disappear when they most want to be seen" Disappearance is a constant theme throughout this novel, the disappearance of people, of objects of thoughts and feelings. However just as important is the reappearance of these things and the circumstances of that. The novel constantly challenges the statement it makes. Disappearances in this story are often in contrast to p Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc for an electronic copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest review."People disappear when they most want to be seen" Disappearance is a constant theme throughout this novel, the disappearance of people, of objects of thoughts and feelings. However just as important is the reappearance of these things and the circumstances of that. The novel constantly challenges the statement it makes. Disappearances in this story are often in contrast to people wanting to be seen, or perhaps they are wanting to be seen but not by everyone. I would like to focus on this theme more and explore it in an essay, which I will probably do on my blog but for the purposes of this review what I want to say now is just how much I loved reading this. It was everything I look for in a novel, well written, good characterisation, natural flow of dialogue, mysterious goings on, a focus on relationships and how these change and morph.I am going to be recommending this book to anyone who will listen to me from now on, I am the nominated book picker for October for an online book club I am part of and this is going to be my choice as long as it fits in the guidelines.
    more
  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    Whether you enjoy The Truants or not probably depends on how well you react to familiarity. When I read the proof blurb by Scarlett Thomas that claimed this was like a mashup of Donna Tartt, Agatha Christie, and Liane Moriarty, I wasn’t prepared for how entirely accurate that was: it’s The Secret History set in Norwich with Agatha Christie texts occupying the place that classical Greek culture takes in the former. If you’re keen on genre riffs, and sexily unpredictable men, and the erotics of pe Whether you enjoy The Truants or not probably depends on how well you react to familiarity. When I read the proof blurb by Scarlett Thomas that claimed this was like a mashup of Donna Tartt, Agatha Christie, and Liane Moriarty, I wasn’t prepared for how entirely accurate that was: it’s The Secret History set in Norwich with Agatha Christie texts occupying the place that classical Greek culture takes in the former. If you’re keen on genre riffs, and sexily unpredictable men, and the erotics of pedagogy, pick it up. I rather enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll remember much in a month.
    more
  • Eamon Ronan
    January 1, 1970
    I was worried that this would be an inferior knock-off version of The Secret History, but in the end my fears were unfounded. The Truants is a well-written literary thriller/mystery that is indebted to similar "campus mystery" novels but still manages to forge its own path. Jess Walker is our narrator, a first-year student at a fictionalized UEA, where she befriends three other students and falls under the spell of charismatic academic Lorna Clay. The description on the inner sleeve of the book I was worried that this would be an inferior knock-off version of The Secret History, but in the end my fears were unfounded. The Truants is a well-written literary thriller/mystery that is indebted to similar "campus mystery" novels but still manages to forge its own path. Jess Walker is our narrator, a first-year student at a fictionalized UEA, where she befriends three other students and falls under the spell of charismatic academic Lorna Clay. The description on the inner sleeve of the book cover leads the reader to believe that this will be a tale primarily about Jess and her "tightly knit group of rule breakers," but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, about halfway through the novel, the narrative pivots away from the university itself, though it never completely abandons its campus roots, and the focus shifts to the relationship between Jess and Lorna. If there's one fault I found with the book, it's that the depiction of the relationships between the characters sometimes didn't ring true. Weinberg's writing is very assured and pleasant to read, but every now and then I'd pause after a chapter and think... is this realistic? Would I feel this attached to someone I had met only a few weeks ago? Is Lorna/Alec really that alluring? Similarly, I found that this book struggled with a classic downfall of "great works in works of fiction." That is, the made-up book within the novel that's supposed to have been groundbreaking and critically acclaimed upon its publication sounds, well, a bit pedestrian. The amazing, semi-famous academic Lorna Clay has penned a seminal work called (you guessed it) The Truants, but the description of the book in the novel is lackluster: "...writers needed to break the rules to be brilliant. The author was not dead: just blind drunk, very high or having sex with anyone they could get their hands on -- living life dangerously and selfishly in the pursuit of extreme insight." Lorna's book, then, is a collection of short biographies of different writers who fall under this thesis. To me, this sounds like... a Buzzfeed article, maybe? Of course, I don't expect a nonexistent academic book that's a minor symbol in a novel to have a uniquely brilliant thesis, but I do expect a bit more than this, especially since it shares its name with the title of the actual book. And, what's more, I felt as though this was an example of the book's main problem, which is that it wasn't entirely believable. I mean, I get it. It's fiction. It's a mystery/thriller. It doesn't have to mirror life exactly, if at all. But I found myself doubting the motivations and actions of the characters. (Would an esteemed professor, no matter how eccentric, spend this much time with undergraduate students?)Overall, though, I found The Truants a very enjoyable and highly readable (finished in about a day!) mystery that posed as many questions as it answered.
    more
  • Laur (Define Bookish)
    January 1, 1970
    There are shades of The Secret History in this debut novel; that heady blend of academia, keys-to-the-kingdom wish fulfilment, and delicious menace.Fresher Jess Walker is newly arrived at the East Anglian university where her hero Lorna Clay teaches a first-year course on Agatha Christie entitled 'Murdered by the campus'. Befriended by reckless aristocrat Georgie and her charismatic boyfriend Alec, middle child Jess is finally able to cast off her suburban ordinariness. As she becomes entangled There are shades of The Secret History in this debut novel; that heady blend of academia, keys-to-the-kingdom wish fulfilment, and delicious menace.Fresher Jess Walker is newly arrived at the East Anglian university where her hero Lorna Clay teaches a first-year course on Agatha Christie entitled 'Murdered by the campus'. Befriended by reckless aristocrat Georgie and her charismatic boyfriend Alec, middle child Jess is finally able to cast off her suburban ordinariness. As she becomes entangled in the lives of her new friends and strives to impress the dazzling Lorna, Jess finds her moral boundaries shifting and a tragedy waiting to unfold.Part coming-of-age novel, part campus thriller, what follows is a masterclass in plotting. The Truants hides its secrets in plain sight, often with a wry wit that only reveals itself in retrospect. This is a story about storytellers: narrator Jess, framing events for us from a vantage point some years later; hearse-driving journalist-turned-student Alec; author and campus superstar Lorna; and master plotter Christie herself, her own mysteries exerting subtle influence over this story and its telling.It's not often I want to reread a book as soon as I finish it. The Truants is a true page-turner, keeping me up late on a school night, breadcrumbing clues towards the darkness at its core. Yet it's also rich and layered enough to make me want to linger with its characters awhile longer, to dig deeper and find what I missed on the first pass. Ambiguous, absorbing and utterly compelling, this one's a new favourite.
    more
  • Alfie Fletcher
    January 1, 1970
    From the first sentence this debut genius Kate Weinberg has you wrapped around her pen. There's something about the depth of the emotional connection between reader and character. I sit, in the sun, reading this novel, and I think I'm by myself. But then Jess walks past, then Lorna and Alec and the rest of Weinberg's gorgeous creations. Upon closing the book, they really really live on, as the tittilating ending continues to tango. This book is a waterfall of emotion, and the easiest five stars From the first sentence this debut genius Kate Weinberg has you wrapped around her pen. There's something about the depth of the emotional connection between reader and character. I sit, in the sun, reading this novel, and I think I'm by myself. But then Jess walks past, then Lorna and Alec and the rest of Weinberg's gorgeous creations. Upon closing the book, they really really live on, as the tittilating ending continues to tango. This book is a waterfall of emotion, and the easiest five stars I ever gave.
    more
  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    A must-read for fans of The Secret History &/or Agatha Christie &/or any “campus” novels. Intriguing—I couldn’t put it down!
  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    *Maybe a 3.5? Not sure yet. Full review to come closer to publication in 2020!
  • Lynn Williams
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this. RTF.
  • Pile By the Bed
    January 1, 1970
    There were probably campus-set mysteries that focussed on groups of students before Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but this seems to benchmark for this type of book. Kate Weinberg’s debut novel The Truants has broader influences than this, including the life and works of Agatha Christie, but the shadow of the campus novel still hovers in the background.Jess Walker has eschewed the established English universities to come to a small, concrete campus in Britain’s Norfolk to study English. She is There were probably campus-set mysteries that focussed on groups of students before Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but this seems to benchmark for this type of book. Kate Weinberg’s debut novel The Truants has broader influences than this, including the life and works of Agatha Christie, but the shadow of the campus novel still hovers in the background.Jess Walker has eschewed the established English universities to come to a small, concrete campus in Britain’s Norfolk to study English. She is particularly obsessed with a teacher there called Lorna Clay, a woman famous for a book called The Truants which looks at writers who broke the rules. On arrival, Jess is quickly befriended by wealthy beauty Georgia and soon finds herself in a tight knit group of four including Georgia’s South African journalist boyfriend Alec and her own new boyfriend Nick. Together, the four become truants themselves, skipping classes to barrel around the countryside in a hearse that Alec drives, drinking and taking drugs. But nothing is that simple, Jess not only knows a secret about Alec, she is also secretly infatuated with him, and the very direct interference of lecturer Lorna in the lives of her favourite students (including Jess and Georgia) puts another angle of pressure on Jess.Suffice to say the idyll cannot last and the second half of the book deals with the consequences of the implosion of the little group and, eventually some of the secrets that underlay some of the action. Lorna and her students are researching Agatha Christie so everything that happens to Jess is tinged with a Christie like air. It feels like there is a mystery here to be solved, although often the mystery element is purely in Jess’s imagination. But the real world is messy, and even where there is ambiguity, Weinberg deliberately refuses to provide a pat Christie-like explanation and tie everything up.The Truants is, at its best, a coming of age story. But rather than the usual teenager to adult this is more of a young adult to experienced adult, buffeted and schooled by the actions of others. Jess narrates the action from a six year remove, highlighting her naïveté and innocence, and allowing her to filter those experiences through the lens of hindsight. There are twists here but most of them are fairly predictable. Again, possibly because the older narrating Jess has foreshadowed them, or at least foreshadowed something.Jess’s naiveté, highlighted by her knowing six-year on narration, becomes a little wearing after a while. The reader knows it will end in tears, as do everyone around her, so when it does there is little surprise. But the shadows of Agatha Christie creates a greater depth to the material, seeding puzzles even where there may be none. So that The Truants is a solid debut, even if it does not always reach the heights that Weinberg is aiming for.
    more
  • Murtaza Kuwarawala
    January 1, 1970
    Title - The TruantsAuthor - Kate WeinbergGenre - Coming of Age FictionAgatha Christie has always been one of my most favourite mystery authors and her books have always been my first recommendation to people who are looking for books in the genre.So when I found out the book 'The Truants' is a book where the plot involves Christie's book, I didn't hesitate even once to pick it up and here is my take on the same.The Truants is a story mainly revolving around three people. Jess, Alec (Jess's frien Title - The TruantsAuthor - Kate WeinbergGenre - Coming of Age FictionAgatha Christie has always been one of my most favourite mystery authors and her books have always been my first recommendation to people who are looking for books in the genre.So when I found out the book 'The Truants' is a book where the plot involves Christie's book, I didn't hesitate even once to pick it up and here is my take on the same.The Truants is a story mainly revolving around three people. Jess, Alec (Jess's friends boyfriend) and Lorna. Jess arrives at the university mainly bcoz she is in awe with Lorna and wants to take her classes. Though initially disappointed with the course she was enrolled in (Agatha Christie's course) she makes her way to one of Lorna's favorite student. A twist in tale involving them all puts their life upside down and what happens next forms the rest of the story.While the book was pretty intriguing, you do keep going chapter to chapter wondering what's going to happen next, the book did leave a few loose ends that it had to tie up. The characters were pretty interesting to invest into, but then the book could have been a bit better had the loose ends had been tied. The central characters, Jess and Lorna, had been explored to really good depths but where the book lacked in is how the supporting characters were portrayed. Some of them kept creeping up when the time was pretty convenient.The plot though revolves around Agatha Christie's book since one of the major characters is a professor in the topic, we could hardly relate much to her fiction novels. It felt at times except for certain elements, the book took the liberty of putting in few elements here and there so that it would keep Christie's fans interested.Would I recommend this book? Ofcourse I would as it had been one of those books that I could not put down and had been well written. The only point off-putting were the loose ends which if tied up could have made this book even better.My Ratings - 🌟🌟🌟1/2 out of 5 (3.5 out of 5)Book in Few Words - Could have been Better
    more
  • Portia
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted here.I’ve been waiting for The Truants since last year when I first read a slither of a summary featured within the acquisition announcement. I even featured it as one of my top five most anticipated releases of 2019, back when I posted those in December. When I finally saw it was available on NetGalley I hit that ‘request’ button so hard. I’d been eagerly waiting to read this since winter 2018, and the wait was worth it. A lot of dark academia novels get compared to The Secret Originally posted here.I’ve been waiting for The Truants since last year when I first read a slither of a summary featured within the acquisition announcement. I even featured it as one of my top five most anticipated releases of 2019, back when I posted those in December. When I finally saw it was available on NetGalley I hit that ‘request’ button so hard. I’d been eagerly waiting to read this since winter 2018, and the wait was worth it. A lot of dark academia novels get compared to The Secret History, but this is the only one I’ve read that lives up to that lofty comparison.I always enjoy novels that take place in academic settings but this was the first one I’ve read that didn’t feel completely removed from my own life. Weinberg honed her craft at UEA and the unnamed university in The Truants is heavily influenced by her time there. Though I didn’t study at UEA myself, I have visited and I recognise a lot of the places she describes and the atmosphere that coats the campus. The early chapters in which Jess learns to navigate her new environment and starts classes with lecturers whose intellect she’s in awe of felt strongly reminiscent of my own first few months at university. I related to that internal struggle of trying to be true to who you are whilst also embracing an exciting and newly emerging version of yourself.Jess as a character is particularly well-written; she’s likeable yet realistically flawed. Georgie, too, embodied an interesting role. She’s a little wild and rebellious which when combined with her aristocratic background may initially seem a touch stereotypical (rich girl rebels against her distant parents by developing an out-of-control and expensive drug habit – we’ve seen it before) but there’s more depth to her than that. Her character comes across as real and fresh, and I found myself sympathising with her as well as rooting for her friendship with Jess. Alec and Lorna were captivating; you can understand why Jess was so enamoured with them both. They were fascinating to follow throughout the narrative.Like the Agatha Christie novels that are referenced a lot throughout the book, I always thought I knew where The Truants was going but it kept surprising me. I think if you’re even a casual fan of Christie’s like me, you’ll enjoy the references and similarities within this book. However, if you’ve never read a Miss Marple or Poirot novel, don’t worry. You might have an urge to pick one up after reading The Truants though. The plot twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, a tiny bit of information is revealed that throws the whole narrative into a whole new light. Right up until the very end I was questioning what was true and what wasn’t. Unlike Christie’s novels though, this book doesn’t end nice and tidily, wrapped up in a bow, but that’s not to say the ending isn’t satisfying. We’re given closure on major points of the novel but Weinberg’s leave us with a little room for speculation, which I loved. It means the book has stuck in my head and left me wondering, instead of being neatly packed away, all finished.I’ve read some brilliant books this month and this was the cherry on the top. A fantastic debut that’s left me eager to read more from Kate Weinberg.
    more
  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    The Truants is a novel about discovering the cost of being someone different, someone more noticeable, when you've always blended in. Jess Walker is thoroughly middle class, mostly forgotten in her large family, and about to start university. She chose her university due to an obsession with an academic there, the distinctive Lorna Clay, whose famous book 'The Truants' is about writers having to push themselves to the limits of life. Once there, she makes a close group of friends and their lives The Truants is a novel about discovering the cost of being someone different, someone more noticeable, when you've always blended in. Jess Walker is thoroughly middle class, mostly forgotten in her large family, and about to start university. She chose her university due to an obsession with an academic there, the distinctive Lorna Clay, whose famous book 'The Truants' is about writers having to push themselves to the limits of life. Once there, she makes a close group of friends and their lives tangle around each other's and Lorna's until tragedy forces Jess to question what she thought the plot of their lives was.In some ways, this has all the elements of a campus novel with tinges of thriller: obsession, love affairs, intellectual excitement, and the lingering comparison of real lives to fictional ones. In the case of The Truants, the latter is mostly around Agatha Christie and her works, which forms a fitting lens for Jess to attempt to untangle what is happening, though the novel itself isn't really a murder mystery. There are clichés, but also a satisfyingly weaving narrative that isn't afraid to leave the campus. It is a novel built around ambiguity and interpretation, and particularly by the end it isn't clear to what extent if any Jess is an unreliable narrator, especially as she becomes interested in unreliable narrators in Christie's writing.The Truants will draw in fans of campus novels (and it is always exciting to read new British ones, with more familiar university experiences), though it might not be exactly what some people expect. The use of Agatha Christie as the academic focus is a nice touch which makes you tempted to pick up some of the novels mentioned in the book and the novel has enough plot to keep readers gripped, though the characters themselves are often left purposefully unexplained.
    more
  • cailleach
    January 1, 1970
    Jess Walker enrols at university in Norwich (rather than the Oxbridge route she could have taken) in order to study under the flamboyant and mysterious Lorna Clay (who has recently mysteriously left her tenured position at Cambridge). Jess is not given a place on the module she wants to study under Clay but on her other less prestigious one about Agatha Christie 's novels and life. Jess has low self esteem so when Lorna notices her and singles her out in class it looks like all Jess's dreams abo Jess Walker enrols at university in Norwich (rather than the Oxbridge route she could have taken) in order to study under the flamboyant and mysterious Lorna Clay (who has recently mysteriously left her tenured position at Cambridge). Jess is not given a place on the module she wants to study under Clay but on her other less prestigious one about Agatha Christie 's novels and life. Jess has low self esteem so when Lorna notices her and singles her out in class it looks like all Jess's dreams about Clay are coming true. Clay encourages the idolisation, inviting Jess to her home , introducing Jess to her partner and giving her her personal mobile phone number. Clay also attends students parties and holds court among her admirers (I can't say that this chimed with any of my Uni experiences, surely it would be totally frowned upon?) Jess also becomes friends with Georgia, a wealthy , beautiful, sometimes self harming party girl who has just started dating a slightly older South African journalist who is a Reader at the uni and whom Jess falls in love with. despite dating a handsome IT sudent herself. There is a claustrophobic sense in the novel and things aren't always quite what they seem. I enjoyed the references to Agatha Christie novels (although I'm not a big fan) and certainly the plot is Christie esq. I enjoyed the first half of this book but then I felt it started to lose it's way a bit. The plot became a bit too overblown and therefore unbelievable for me. I still enjoyed it over all though. It even inspired me to look up the Agatha Christie books mentioned in the plot.
    more
  • Sid Nuncius
    January 1, 1970
    Overall, I enjoyed The Truants, but it did drag a bit in the middle especially.The book is narrated by Jess, looking back six years or so to 2012 when she was an eighteen-year-old first-year student at an unnamed university bearing a strong resemblance to the University Of East Anglia. Studying English, she falls under the spell of Lorna, a charismatic female lecturer, and also of a wealthy, drug-dependent fellow student and her maverick older boyfriend. It’s a story of love, desire, betrayal, l Overall, I enjoyed The Truants, but it did drag a bit in the middle especially.The book is narrated by Jess, looking back six years or so to 2012 when she was an eighteen-year-old first-year student at an unnamed university bearing a strong resemblance to the University Of East Anglia. Studying English, she falls under the spell of Lorna, a charismatic female lecturer, and also of a wealthy, drug-dependent fellow student and her maverick older boyfriend. It’s a story of love, desire, betrayal, lies and growing up.Kate Weinberg writes very well. The book is literary without ever becoming pretentious and she creates very believable characters with a fine sense of growing foreboding. Jess’s voice is excellently done and it’s very readable, with a death and important revelations making the second half of the book very gripping. Perhaps it’s me – as a gent in his mid-60s I’m perhaps not the ideal audience for a lengthy exploration of the emotional life of a slightly withdrawn post-adolescent woman – but I almost gave up around half way. It was all well written and well done, but it began to feel a bit familiar and drawn out. I really needed something to actually happen; fortunately, I persisted and things did happen soon enough for me to enjoy the second half very much.So, a slightly qualified recommendation but this is an impressive debut and I’ll certainly be looking out for Kate Weinberg’s next book.(My thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC via NetGalley.)
    more
  • Bookoholic.me
    January 1, 1970
    The action starts slowly, for the first 100 pages it was only "ok". Students partying and falling in love, having love triangles and problems at school. I would probably rate it as 3 but then the second part of the book definitely changed everything!!!First of all I wanted to say thank you for showing abortion as a choice. It is extremely important that every woman who is pregnant has a choice to either keep the pregnancy or have an abortion. I loved how you showed that it is an easy procedure t The action starts slowly, for the first 100 pages it was only "ok". Students partying and falling in love, having love triangles and problems at school. I would probably rate it as 3 but then the second part of the book definitely changed everything!!!First of all I wanted to say thank you for showing abortion as a choice. It is extremely important that every woman who is pregnant has a choice to either keep the pregnancy or have an abortion. I loved how you showed that it is an easy procedure to just take pills (unfortunately the main character threw up antibiotics and caught infection, but in general it should be quite easy). I can't stand people getting pregnant in movies and books and "accepting" their faith or even worse - always being happy because it's not a fault of a lump of cells that it's growing. Second, I really love Agatha Christie's books and seeing her work always somewhere in the background was great. I was curious how this book will be great for Agatha's fans and I wasn't disappointed! Especially reading the ending, wow! As for the characters, the most interesting to me was Alec, the development from a nice guy to a person full of secret... the mysterious murders around him... and the big cause in South Africa, not mentioning different un-healthy relationships. The book is a pleasant read, and the ending is truly unexpected!
    more
  • Angela Watt
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was a wonderful book. Once I'd fallen into it, I never wanted to leave. Some of the writing is truly beautiful and I found myself rereading sentences to hear them in my head again. I almost took a highlighter to them but couldn't quite bring myself to do it. I'm not a great literary reader but this has a literary feel to it.I'm not even sure how I would describe it. Is it a crime book or a book about obsession or one about growing up or about friendship or the impact of grief or f I thought this was a wonderful book. Once I'd fallen into it, I never wanted to leave. Some of the writing is truly beautiful and I found myself rereading sentences to hear them in my head again. I almost took a highlighter to them but couldn't quite bring myself to do it. I'm not a great literary reader but this has a literary feel to it.I'm not even sure how I would describe it. Is it a crime book or a book about obsession or one about growing up or about friendship or the impact of grief or first times? I think it's all these things plus the book pulls you in in the same way that Jess is pulled into the charismatic world of Lorna and Alec. We've probably all been around those people that give off that air of confidence and charisma and it's addictive to be around. I also loved the Agatha Christie references and the way the mystery of her disappearance features in the novel linked to the actions of the characters.Even the last sentence of the acknowledgements moved me to tears. This is a real highlight of 2019 for me.
    more
  • Fi Cotter
    January 1, 1970
    You know that old trope never judge a book by its cover? Well you can with The Truants. I found the cover irresistible. It made no sense, an Addams family saloon (hearse) in the middle of a sparely forest. Of course I was intrigued and the story did not disappoint. Agatha Christie looms large, she’s really the point of the whole thing, but with such a clever and marvellous twist at the end that I gasped. There’s a hint of Daphne du Maurier too in the character of the narrator - she is as faceles You know that old trope never judge a book by its cover? Well you can with The Truants. I found the cover irresistible. It made no sense, an Addams family saloon (hearse) in the middle of a sparely forest. Of course I was intrigued and the story did not disappoint. Agatha Christie looms large, she’s really the point of the whole thing, but with such a clever and marvellous twist at the end that I gasped. There’s a hint of Daphne du Maurier too in the character of the narrator - she is as faceless as the second Mrs DeWinter, but as central to the story. However the book Kate Weinberg has written is very much her own. She brushes past Agatha and Daphne and brings the classic murder mystery format into the 21st century and makes it her own. I’m not a big novel reader but I started this at 2pm on Saturday and finished it on Sunday just as Broadcasting House was starting. (09.00 if you’re not a R4 junkie). Just buy the book and see for yourself.
    more
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Set at the thinly disguised University of East Anglia this novel mixes up the university/Secret History genre with some lush Agatha Christie.The first part of the book sets the scene, this did drag a little - maybe Norfolk uni life is a little tame compared to the US's Princetown, but I could not quite believe the personal pastoral care that the student received from her tutor. Even if she was a scheming madwoman the UK's university funding and child protection laws would put pay to any home vis Set at the thinly disguised University of East Anglia this novel mixes up the university/Secret History genre with some lush Agatha Christie.The first part of the book sets the scene, this did drag a little - maybe Norfolk uni life is a little tame compared to the US's Princetown, but I could not quite believe the personal pastoral care that the student received from her tutor. Even if she was a scheming madwoman the UK's university funding and child protection laws would put pay to any home visits from the professor.However once we got through the groundwork we are treated to the whole Agatha Christie experience - islands, storms, snakes, sinister men and dodgy deaths. Marvellous - and by this point I could suspend my disbelief, as hey, it's abroad and strange things can happen there. A good read !
    more
  • Rebecca Hughes
    January 1, 1970
    I think this book came to me at a fortuitous time. If my head had been less fuzzy, and able to focus on anything but light entertainment, then this review would be quite different. As it is, I thoroughly enjoyed racing through this poorly plotted campus thriller, featuring an English lecturer obsessed with Agatha Christie and intentional disappearances. The main character is so bland I kept forgetting her name, and every time another character said "Jess" I would have to remind myself who on ear I think this book came to me at a fortuitous time. If my head had been less fuzzy, and able to focus on anything but light entertainment, then this review would be quite different. As it is, I thoroughly enjoyed racing through this poorly plotted campus thriller, featuring an English lecturer obsessed with Agatha Christie and intentional disappearances. The main character is so bland I kept forgetting her name, and every time another character said "Jess" I would have to remind myself who on earth it was. Despite this, the rest of the characters are fun, and reminds you (me) of the unfortunate choices of friends you may also have made at university. For summer escapism, this is excellent.
    more
  • Chloe
    January 1, 1970
    Kate Weinberg's debut novel is going to fill your gaping Sally Rooney gap. At the centre of this modern-day whodunnit are four complex, clever rule-breaking characters with a perilous craving to live life against the grain. With all the debauchery one would expect from middle-class university freshers, this book will put forth questions that you didn't even know you wanted the answers to - "are white lies, even elaborate acts of deception, sometimes justified? ...Could you, if the right sort of Kate Weinberg's debut novel is going to fill your gaping Sally Rooney gap. At the centre of this modern-day whodunnit are four complex, clever rule-breaking characters with a perilous craving to live life against the grain. With all the debauchery one would expect from middle-class university freshers, this book will put forth questions that you didn't even know you wanted the answers to - "are white lies, even elaborate acts of deception, sometimes justified? ...Could you, if the right sort of pressure was exerted, kill someone?"
    more
  • Kaz
    January 1, 1970
    DNF. I read this on Kindle. Or rather, I attempted to, because I was ripped from immersion every couple of paragraphs by the words being spaced irregularly or the words themse-lves having really stran-ge placement of das-hes several times a page. Maybe this is a Kindle issue but honestly if a publishing company cannot port their book onto a digital format without the irregularities I'm not going to bother with their novel for the fact of what else would they miss?
    more
Write a review