Last summer (or maybe even the year before that) Emma Cline’s novel The Girls was a massive hit on BookTube. Everyone seemed to be talking about it or hauling it on their channels, and the general consensus was a rapid need to read it. I could understand why; a lot of people are still massively fascinated by the Charles Manson murders of the 1960’s and this book is essentially a fictionalised account of that time. The Manson family was a commune and a cult, with Charles their leader influencing the other members into an unconventional lifestyle which resulted in brutal violence. From the outside in it is not only horrifically disturbing but also fascinating to consider just how this might have happened. As soon as I realised the book was focused upon this I knew I had to read it . . . even if it did take me a little while to pick it up!
Obviously this is very much a work of fiction, with different names and probably a much different plot line added to make the story work from a fictional point of view. There’s a lot the author wouldn’t know, thereby creating the need for any added elements or differences in her book compared to reality. Essentially however the main crux of the novel centres upon the events surrounding the Manson family. The book follows Evie Boyd, a fourteen year old girl with a somewhat fractured family life who is desperate to be noticed. She’s empty; eager to fill the summer days which stretch endlessly ahead with no clue how to go about her life. That is, until she sees the girls, each of them somewhat shabby looking, yet their power and influence irresistible. Unable to stop herself, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch they call home. It’s here she meets Russell, a much older man who seems to represent an entirely different, much freer way of life. But some things can’t be forgotten, and the events of that fateful summer will stay with Evie for the rest of her life.