For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.
I very much enjoyed It’s Always The Husband and with She Was The Quiet One the author brings that same immersive sense of the story but with a very different tale, still though completely character driven and very compelling.
I’ve always been a sucker for boarding school stories, this book takes two sides of that theme and throws in an emotionally charged murder. On the one hand we have two sisters, very different in personality, who fall into a war both with each other and with themselves. On the other we have a married couple, both staff at the school, where dangerous secrets are everywhere.
This is a twist on a very current subject , with themes of power and responsibility, love trust and loyalty, with a side of sibling rivalry and a huge dose of emotional trauma.
I was fully engaged with the sisters- Michele Campbell has the knack for making you fully see all sides of the story, playing with sympathy, changing the rules with every passing chapter. It is clever and thought provoking and it was striking that the “bad guy” in it all was never really hidden but lived fully in plain sight on the pages, the other characters dancing around them.
She Was The Quiet One is tense and melancholy, beautifully plotted and written, with some fascinating characters and an addictive, perfectly paced plot.