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    Neither Insightful Nor Fun

    I did not like this book. I think Charlotte Silver intended to do for Bennington College what Mary McCarthy did for Vassar in The Group or Sigrid Nunez for Barnard College in The Last of Her Kind: to use an elite, private, originally women-only college as both the hothouse spawning intense female friendships and the launching pad to "real life" in the big city. She has failed. Instead, she has given us two pretentious caricatures who are neither witty nor amusing, but simply unlikeable, wrapping them in overblown, unintentionally parodic prose. In place of a "dark and stormy night," we have "the golden-green wilds of adolescence" and "sweet pangs of nostalgia." Of her two main characters, Sylvie and Cassandra, we are clearly meant to prefer Cassandra, yet what reader could care about this woman: "Today, Sylvie and Quinn were sitting together, doing pastel chalk drawings on the pavement. Cassandra, seeing them, thought: Oh God, am I going to have to sit on the ground? This babysitting business sometimes got a little too rugged for her, even as a spectator. She looked down at her shapely navy blue dress - much more chic than black on a spring afternoon - worn to show off her figure to Professor Sobel. It was going to be difficult to kneel in that dress without the fabric tugging." In the right hands, self-centered characters can nevertheless be charming, but they need a more down-to-earth foil if they are to avoid becoming cartoonish (think Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited). Those hands are not Silver's; her Bennington girls may be easy, but they are not funny. I received a free copy of Bennington Girls Are Easy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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