Summary and book reviews of The Truants by Kate Weinberg

The Truants

by Kate Weinberg

The Truants by Kate Weinberg X
The Truants by Kate Weinberg
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2021, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

Book Summary

Seductive, unsettling, and beautifully written, The Truants is a debut novel of literary suspense perfect for lovers of Agatha Christie and The Secret History - a thrilling exploration of deceit, first love, and the depths to which obsession can drive us.

People disappear when they most want to be seen.

Jess Walker has come to a concrete campus under the flat grey skies of East Anglia for one reason: To be taught by the mesmerizing and rebellious Dr Lorna Clay, whose seminars soon transform Jess's thinking on life, love, and Agatha Christie. Swept up in Lorna's thrall, Jess falls in with a tightly-knit group of rule-breakers--Alec, a courageous South African journalist with a nihilistic streak; Georgie, a seductive, pill-popping aristocrat; and Nick, a handsome geologist with layers of his own.

But when tragedy strikes the group, Jess turns to Lorna. Together, the two seek refuge on a remote Italian island, where Jess tastes the life she's long dreamed of--and uncovers a shocking secret that will challenge everything she's learned.

Chapter 1

Dear Dr. Clay,

Having been ill for most of Freshers' Week, I have only just made it down to the English department to open my mail. I was due to start your course "The Devil Has the Best Lines" next Tuesday, but a note from the administration office informs me that due to "oversubscription" my place has been deferred to "a future date as yet unknown."

I am writing to tell you just how crushed I am by this news. Since I first read your masterpiece The Truants I have considered your scorching and irreverent commentary as something of a manifesto for life. I applied to this university purely so that I could be taught by you, and on receiving a place immediately requested to study in either of the modules that you offer this term. Since my place in "The Devil Has the Best Lines" was confirmed at the beginning of the summer I have completed the reading list, including a full immersion in the gin-soaked minds of Hunter S. Thompson, Zelda Fitzgerald, and John Cheever.

I did ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Reading The Truants changes Jess's life. Why do you think The Truants speaks to Jess so powerfully? Is there a book you read when you were a teenager that changed you? What about as an adult?
  2. At the beginning of the novel, Jess thinks of herself as "a bystander: a witness, an observer" (p. 21). Why does she see herself this way? Does this identity change once she goes to college? How does Jess see herself at the end of the novel?
  3. Why does Jess admire Lorna Clay so much? What about Lorna inspires Jess? How did you see Lorna at the start of the novel? Did you feel differently about her by the end?
  4. Both Jess and Lorna become fascinated by Agatha Christie. Why does Lorna want to teach a course on Christie? How does Christie's own life ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Weinberg paints a fascinating, uncynical picture of the kind of intense, self-destructive attractions that people may be especially prone to in late adolescence but that could crop up at any time. The Truants is a reminder that these feelings, while potentially dangerous, aren't necessarily false, and that they may be worth trying to make peace with in the end...continued

Full Review (687 words).

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(Reviewed by Elisabeth Cook).

Media Reviews

Star Tribune
The Truants is an incredibly accomplished debut. London-based author Kate Weinberg blends choice components from various types of books — campus novel, bildungsroman, crime thriller, murder mystery — and creates an intriguing composite...a well-crafted page-turner full of love triangles and vicious circles, secrets and suspense. Escapist fiction of the highest order.

Publishers Weekly
Weinberg writes incisively and evocatively about infatuation, heartbreak, and grief, but what begins as a tense, taut, character-driven slow burn succumbs to coincidence and melodrama. Weinberg aims high, but misses her mark.

Library Journal
Though the outlines of the story are familiar, Jess is eminently sympathetic and likable, and Weinberg skillfully depicts the headiness of the transition to college life. The ending feels needlessly protracted, however, as Jess spends several years during and after college (and following what should be the climax of the novel) attempting to solve the mystery of what happened her first year.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Weinberg has written one of the best thriller debuts in recent years, with all the cleverness of Ruth Ware (and, yes, even Christie herself) and a dash of Donna Tartt's edgy darkness. Though Christie fans may be particularly delighted, this propulsive, pitch-perfect thriller has something for everyone.

Booklist (starred review)
Echoes Donna Tartt's The Secret History, Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, Richard Russo's Straight Man, and Katie Lowe's The Furies. The mystery at the novel's core befits Agatha Christie [and] unravels at a nearly perfect pace...This slow burn of a novel explores the headiness of favoritism and the danger in meeting one's heroes.

Author Blurb Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You
This is a remarkably assured debut, deftly plotted and with vivid, compelling characters that leapt off the page. I had no idea where it was going to end up - but I knew I would be satisfied, and I was. I look forward to seeing what Kate Weinberg writes next.

Author Blurb Alain de Botton, author of The Course of Love
A deeply affecting, artfully written, and entirely gripping story...The novel combines the best elements of a crime thriller, a campus novel, a love story and a psychological study. It is always beautifully and surprisingly written, has a perfect sense of plot, and is consistently clever. Weinberg is a major talent.

Author Blurb Carol Goodman, author of The Lake of Dead Languages and The Night Visitors
A mesmerizing novel of infatuation and betrayal, reminiscent of Muriel Spark and Donna Tartt. Kate Weinberg makes a stunning debut!

Author Blurb Meghan MacLean Weir, author of The Book of Essie
At once thrilling and heart breaking, The Truants is a novel that beautifully captures how easy it is to wound those we love and be wounded by them, and the long, anguished road to forgiveness that follows.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Disappearance of Agatha Christie

Agatha ChristieIn Kate Weinberg's The Truants, the main character, Jess Walker, suggests to her professor, Lorna Clay, that famed author Agatha Christie's "hardest to crack" mystery may have emerged not in her writing, but in her life. Jess is referring to the time that Christie disappeared for 11 days, later claiming to have suffered memory loss, an event that remains the subject of much debate and speculation.

Christie was 36 years old at the time of her disappearance. On the evening of December 3, 1926, she drove away from her house in Berkshire, England. Her car, a green Morris Crowley, was later found in a ditch close to the city of Guildford (40 miles away), and Christie herself had vanished.

Christie's disappearance sparked national news ...

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