cover image The Guineveres

The Guineveres

Sarah Domet. Flatiron, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-08661-7

Four girls named Guinevere, “a coincidence that bound us together from the moment we met,” arrive within two years of one another at the Sisters of the Supreme Adoration convent, in Domet’s debut novel. The story is narrated by Vere, looking back to when she “was a sensitive young girl, a girl who still had faith,” but Vere sees her own story as so bound up with the other Guineveres, she commonly uses the first-person plural. There is Ginny, “a delicate creature”; Winnie, funny and down to earth; and Gwen, the last to arrive and the most worldly of the four, a pretty girl who longs to get out, who devises a plan for them to escape through a hollowed-out float during the convent’s annual festival. The Guineveres’ punishment for their failed escape is three months of service in the convent’s convalescent ward, to “reawaken [their] sense of gratitude,” in the words of Father James. When a group of comatose and unidentified soldiers, severely injured in a foreign war, are brought in, the Guineveres develop a joint fantasy that the boys will wake and the girls will get to return home with them. Domet’s concept is strong, an homage to The Virgin Suicides with its group narration and fixation on trapped teenage girls. Though the story is a bit too long, Domet deftly weaves in the girls’ individual stories and the stories of female saints into her structure, making this a satisfying read on multiple levels. (Oct.)