Tuesday 21 May 2013

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Anton DiSclanfi's debut novel The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is published by Tinder Press on 6th June 2013 in hardback and ebook.
"North Carolina 1930: Thea Atwell is 'exiled' from her family home in Florida after a scandal that she has been held responsible for.  She is to start afresh at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls - an elite boarding school in the Blue Ridge Mountains where money, beauty and equestrian prowess count for everything.
Whilst Thea grapples with the events of the past that took her from her family home, she learns to negotiate the complex codes and social mores of a world that provides her with an education but also expects her to be married at twenty-one, in a world so rarified that it is almost immune to the devastating Depression sweeping the country.  Yet as she becomes closer to the Headmaster and his family, Thea's past returns to haunt her, is this her chance to learn from her mistakes or are some of us just programmed to put our desires above rational choices?  And if this is how life shaped us, how do we make the best of it?"
 There is something almost mystical and dreamlike about this book.  Told in the first person, Thea is something of an unreliable narrator.  Thea has spent her life cosseted by her family and its wealth, surrounded only by close family members, she has never had any contact with strangers before.
Thea believes that she will only spend the summer at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, and although she finds it very strange, suddenly thrust amongst a group of girls she has nothing in common with, she welcomes the chance to go riding every day.

This is a coming-of-age story with a difference.  Not only does Thea discover things about herself, she learns that beauty, wealth and the ability to ride better than others can affect how people judge her.  Thea longs for home and her family, especially her twin brother Sam, she finds it difficult to understand the dress codes, the behaviour of these pretty, almost alien Southern girls.  Thea is not always the most pleasant of characters, she often appears selfish and self-centred, but she is also determined and quite daring at times.

Anton DiSclafani writes descriptive prose with ease.  From the Southern countryside, to the Florida heat, all beautifully drawn and very alluring.   Her handling of adolescent girls' relationships is impressive, detailing the jealously, the closeness, the adulation with ease.

Anton DiSclafani
This is a slow-paced, character rich novel that should be savoured for it's sense of place and fine detail.

The author has drawn upon her own childhood when writing this novel, she grew up in Florida and visited
her family's cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the real Yonahlossee.

For more information about the author, please visit her webpage here.  Join the conversation on Twitter: #yonahlosee

My thanks go to Helena Towers at the Headline Press Officer who supplied my copy for review.

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