It’s the heart of summer in Northern California. 1969 and the decade of free love and peace for all is coming to an end. Evie Boyd is a bored, lonely teenager, her crush has run off with his pregnant girlfriend, her best friend has fallen out with her and her parents have got divorced. Then she meets The Girls. Unable to recognise her new found friends as a cult, Evie is drawn into the world of free love, a ranch house, dirty and crumbling, The Girls always tripping on acid, and the charismatic leader Russell who is quick to envelope the needy Evie into what she perceives to be a ready made family.
Evie’s home life hasn’t been great since her dad left, and she sees the opportunity afforded to her by the beautiful Suzanne. Spurred on by her idealisation of the Girl, she is willing to do anything to remain part of the group.
The story is based on the Manson murders although I didn’t actually know this when reading it and know nothing about the Manson murders although I’ll be sure to look them up now. What this novel did do however was personify a utterly charismatic leader and the ease with which young people can be drawn into the circle. Convinced to commit violent crimes beyond human comprehension.
Well written, evocative and provocative, The Girls is a masterpiece of a novel. Truly unforgettable.