Winner of the Betty Trask Award, the NZ Society of Authors' Best First Book Award, and the Adam Prize; a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award; and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Orange Prize.
Set in the aftermath of a sex scandal at an all-girls’ high school, Eleanor Catton’s internationally acclaimed award-winning debut is a provocative and darkly funny novel about the elusiveness of truth, the slipperiness of identity, and the emotional compromises we make to belong.
When news spreads of a high school teacher’s relationship with one of his students, the teenage girls at Abbey Grange are jolted into a new awareness of their own potency and power. Although no one knows the whole truth, the girls have their own ideas about what happened. They obsessively examine the details of the affair with the curiosity and jealousy native to any adolescent girl, and they confide in their saxophone teacher, an enigmatic woman who casts a withering eye on the dramas that unfold – both real and imagined. When the local drama school decides to use the scandal as the basis for its year-end show, the real world and the world of the theatre collide. As the story moves back and forth between the two schools – and characters slip in and out of different personas – the boundaries between public and private, fact and fantasy begin to dissolve.
Sharply observed, brilliantly crafted, and infused with a deliciously subversive wit, The Rehearsal is at once a vibrant portrait of teenage longing and adult regret, and a shrewd exposé of how we are all performers in life. It introduces Eleanor Catton as a boldly inventive new voice in contemporary fiction.
ELEANOR CATTON was born in 1985 in London, Ontario, and raised in Canterbury, New Zealand. The Rehearsal is her multi-award-winning debut novel. Catton currently lives in Iowa City, having won a Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to study at the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop.
"A wonderful debut by a truly exciting new writer — The Rehearsal is compulsively good and while at the same time being immensely readable it also continually calls into question the relationship between so-called 'reality' and fiction, and the very nature of truth itself."
— Kate Atkinson
"This astonishing debut novel from Eleanor Catton is a cause for surprise and celebration: smart, playful and self-possessed, it has the glitter and mystery of the true literary original."
— The Guardian
"Eleanor Catton has not only shaken the bars but broken through."
— Glasgow Sunday Herald
"A book as brainy as The Rehearsal usually doesn’t have the emotional heft to match its smarts. But New Zealander Eleanor Catton’s debut novel – I can’t believe it’s her first book – will make you gasp, think, laugh, wonder and then weep. . . . I haven’t been this impressed with a debut fiction writer since Ann-Marie MacDonald released Fall On Your Knees. This year’s must-read."
— NOW magazine (5 "N" review)
“A bravura performance. . . . As wickedly provocative as it is elaborately crafted. . . . [A] sensational novel. There is nothing ordinary about it.”
— Toronto Star
“Imagine Sue Sylvester’s lines from ‘Glee’ delivered by Judi Dench and you’ll begin to capture the tone taken by the teachers in this mordant debut novel.”
— New York Times
“The Rehearsal is something completely different. It’s almost impossible to classify. The closest comparison might be Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl, or even The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, but The Rehearsal stands alone. . . . Eleanor Catton has begun on a very high note. I have a feeling she’ll sustain it.”
— Globe and Mail
“A tour de force. . . . The combination of beautiful writing and inventive, nontraditional structure . . . make it a dazzling debut.”
— Booklist (starred review)