07 May 2013

Teen Tuesday

Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin (Simon Pulse hardcover, 7 May 2013).

When I was a teen, I always wanted to go to boarding school.  The books I read made it seem magical (sometimes literally) and nurturing.  Sure there were those where it was described as a humiliating, painful experience, but but the proportion of these was small.

Today, many books for teens are still set in boarding schools, but in general the experience is unpleasant.  A good example of this is Nancy Ohlin's Thorn Abbey, being released today.  It's based loosely on Daphne du Maurier's classic novel Rebecca, about a nameless young bride tormented by the perceived perfection of her husband's first wife. 

The main character in Thorn Abbey does have a name: it's Tess.  A newly transferred sophomore, she feels uncomfortable and alien until a boy named Franklin from her English class invites her to the Monday Night Movie Fest.  He introduces her to his handsome and brooding roommate Max, by whom Tess is immediately captivated. 

Against the advice of her roommate Devon, Tess and Max begin a relationship, which is troubled from the beginning.  Max is at times warm and confiding, at other times he's distant and brittle.  Tess eventually learns that Max's previous girlfriend Becca had been Devon's best friend (and had actually occupied Tess's spot in the room) before she died the previous year.  As in Rebecca, a lot of what happens is due to misunderstanding and miscommunication. 

Ohlin does a fine job of transferring the setting from an isolated English mansion to a boarding school in  New England.  The teens emotions are powerful and realistic, and the characters believably fluctuate from self-assurance to self-doubt, from excited glee to extreme angst.

Hopefully, if readers have not already discovered Du Maurier's novel, this will lead them to it.

FTC full disclosure:  Many thanks to Edelweiss and SimonPulse for the advance copies. 


  1. I love Rebecca! I've read it a few times. I always think that it's so interesting that the protagonist doesn't have a name in the novel (which makes her seem all the more insignificant compared to the "perfect" previous wife, Rebecca, of course!).

    "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . . ." That gets my blood racing. I could pick that book up again right now and start reading!

    Thanks for telling us about this new novel.

    1. I love REBECCA, too, Jan. That's one of the things that drew me to this book. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you get a chance to read it.

      Thanks for reading my blog!


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