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A review.   —   Books

Gossip of the Starlings, written by Nina de Gramont, is so fully realized a story that by the end of the book I was practically convinced that the story was not one of fiction but of an actual happening in this author's life. Gossip of the Starlings is a story of a teenage girl, Catherine Morrow, her last year at an exclusive prep school, and the intoxicating friendship that blossomed in that time between herself and Skye Butterfield, the daughter of a renowned senator. The friendship, fueled by drugs, alcohol, and the inability to control the seductive call of disobedience and self destruction, ultimately defines and destroys the lives of the two girls, and those who are closest to them. Written with unbelievable depth and clarity, the narrative told by the character is so complete within each moment that I found myself aching for as much self realization as this character contained.

Gossip of the Starlings is written with immense elegance and grace, for which this story in particular seems a challenging chore as the entire story happens in the fall, winter, and spring, and those seasonal elements factor heavily into the storytelling. All throughout the story we feel the cold of New England, the soggy damp of the rain, the chill of autumn, the snow and mud and grime of a long gray winter, and yet we are not left feeling bleak. Instead our hearts race with the thrill of love and adventure, our voices hush to a whisper and our feet assume a tiptoe stance as adolescence overtakes our senses and our fear of being discovered is great. The book's title is borrowed from a line in a Shel Silverstein poem called Forgotten Language. It goes like this:

Once I spoke the language of the flowers
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said.
Once I smiled in secret, at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers....
How did it go?
How did it go?

Thanks to Nina de Gramont's delicate and intricate writing, we are privy once again to the language of the flowers, and it goes something like Gossip of the Starlings.

Posted 3.5.2008 6:45:13 PM

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