Well, isn’t this a dark, twisty and completely captivating tale? I didn’t know much about the plot of The Truants when I started reading. I had heard that Kate Weinberg’s debut novel drew comparisons to The Secret History by Donna Tartt – and that’s all I needed to know.
Opening sentence: ‘It’s hard to say who I fell in love with first.’
Jess’ coming of age story
Jess Walker applies to a specific university in Norwich, specifically to be taught by Dr. Lorna Clay. An enigmatic English professor and published author. Lorna’s book, The Truants, is all about people who break the rules and live exciting lives (‘And those moments of playing truant from their lives – those were the moments the Devil became divine‘), which is what this book The Truants is about too, although not always with the outcomes the characters intend.
We are hearing Jess’ story in retrospect. She is telling us about her life six years previous, when she was a new uni student, making new friends and getting to know her professor. Georgie, Nick and Alec become her close circle, with handsome South African, Alec capturing her heart. The only issue with that is that Nick is actually her boyfriend. And Alec is her best friend Georgie’s boyfriend…
You’re among Agatha fans
‘Who can tell me which of Christie’s mysteries is the hardest to crack?’
I do love a good Agatha Christie story, so imagine my delight when a little Agatha sub-plot started to weave its way into the story. Lorna is writing a book about the famous author and teaches a course about her entitled: Murdered by the Campus. So, lots of Agatha’s books and ideas are referenced, along with her quite fascinating real life story. Agatha’s themes filter through and tie back into Jess’ situation:
The triangle. A couple and then the third point, the disruptive force. Christie’s books are full of triangles, of secret loves, of betrayals amongst friends, amongst family, often amongst the sisterhood. Am I right, Jess?
The Truants is a wonderful homage to Agatha – in ways you are expecting and ways you are not. But it’s the way it layers up the lies and betrayals and the interesting pace that keeps you on your toes. Going against the general crime / mystery grain, the final section of book slows the pace down, which makes you ponder the plot a little more, for a satisfying conclusion. A clever move indeed. Agatha would be proud.
- Published by Bloomsbury 25th June 2020;
- 352 pages;
- My rating: