All Souls

By Christine Schutt
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151014491, 240pp.)

Publication Date: April 2008

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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In 1997, at the distinguished Siddons School on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the school year opens with distressing news: Astra Dell is suffering from a rare disease. Astra's friends try to reconcile the sick girl's suffering with their own fierce longings and impetuous attachments. Car writes unsparing letters, which the dirty Marlene, in her devotion, then steals. Other classmates carry on: The silly team of Suki and Alex pursue Will Bliss while the subversive Lisa Van de Ven makes dates with Miss Wilkes. The world of private schools and privilege in New York City is funny, poignant, cruel, and at its heart is a sick girl, Astra Dell, "that pale girl from the senior class, the dancer with all the hair, the red hair, knotted or braided or let to fall to her waist, a fever and she consumed."

National Book Award Finalist Christine Schutt has created a wickedly original tale of innocence, daring and illness.

About the Author

CHRISTINE SCHUTT is the author of the short-story collection Nightwork. Her work, which has garnered an O. Henry Prize and a Pushcart Prize, is published widely in literary journals. Schutt lives and teaches in New York City.

Praise For All Souls


"Haunting and original, Florida is a beautiful book."—Claire Messud, author of The Emperor's Children

"In Florida, Christine Schutt conveys, through an odd, beautiful, and original language, real truths about childhood and longing. She is a truly gifted writer."—George Saunders, author of Pastoralia

"Schutt''s impressionistic style, with its extraordinary gift for exquisite economy, carries the day and creates a mood and tone that are hauntingly unforgettable." (Starred)

"Readers who love language and appreciate description will find All Souls worth reading.... Anyone who wants to read a high school story that''s about more than just life as a model/fashionista/mean girl will enjoy this book."   

"[P]roves the puffy prep-school genre can shoulder real emotional weight -- and that indeed, it sometimes should."

"A very literary look at a private girls'' school on the Upper East Side."

"One of the best private school novels to appear in recent years...With commendations from John Ashbery, and sentences that often demand rereading, Christine Schutt has mainly appealed to reader who don''t begrudge a prose its small risks.  In ''All Souls'', her second novel, she makes a bid for wider appeal.  Describing the small cosmos around an elite Upper East Side girls'' school, Ms. Schutt imagines -- or penetrates -- an exclusive world at once sexy and lamentable, predictable but still mysterious.  Her subject is not any one aspect of private school culture, but its almost intangible totality, the thing that gives a school, in all its decentered complexity, an identity.  Miraculousl, she achieves this, and in a novel that is a model of succintness."

"In her latest novel, Christine Schutt once again proves herself an astute observer of human nature...Schutt seamlessly marries these girls to the unpredictable, indifferent threat of random fate, a clear, precise vision of privilege marred by tragedy."

"[B]eautifully written... there isn''t a boring sentence in here."

"Refreshingly strange.Schutt''s work... is fiercely intimate, laying bare the jagged lives of girls and women.... Schutt''s roving, kaleidoscopic vision-- often wickedly funny-- captures the quivering of all these souls in the heat of mortality.... It''s the foreign land of teenage girldom--where bodies relentlessly blossom and friendships resemble toruous love affairs-- that Schutt gets especially, achingly right.... ''All Souls'' is shot through with [Virginia] Woolf''s lyrical, restless spirit... The result is a bold, sharp story about teenage girls, class and illness, about those moments when we achieve the miracle of human connection -- and those when we don''t."

Set in a girls’ school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, this book is a wonderfully written, touching extraordinarily captivating take on the teachers’, parents’, and teens’ troubled worlds...refreshing for this genre.

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