“The Guineveres” is a first novel by Sarah Domet, about a group of girls who for a variety of reasons have been abandoned by their families and are living in a convent. Four of the girls unbelievably are named Guinevere and that commonality is enough to bring them together as best friends. The girls must live in the Convent until a family member comes to get them or until they become 18 years of age. Vere is telling the story two decades after the events she is describing and well after they have attained their independence.
There are six sets of girls living in the convent–the Sads (parents died), the Specials (still had contact with their parents), the Poor Girls (extremely poor parents), the Delinquents (big trouble), the Almost 18 (speaks for itself) and the Guineveres. Each group is a world unto itself.
When we first meet the four Guineveres (Ginny, Win, Vere and Gwen) they are trying to escape the convent by hiding in a float at a parade capping off the celebration of the Assumption of Mary. Needless to say the girls get caught and do not escape! As punishment for their attempt to escape, the girls are placed on a three month JUG in the convent’s Convalescence Ward, which houses the elderly and dying. While they are tending the old dying people, five soldiers, each in a coma, are brought in. There is a war going on and the Convent’s Convalescence Ward is needed as part of the “War Effort”. One of the soldiers regains consciousness and is sent home, along with an almost 18 year old girl who has also been assisting in the Ward. When the Guineveres see that they could leave as an aid to a convalescing soldier, they each adopt one of the soldiers as their own, referring to them as “Our Boys.”
Religion and life with the nuns is an inextricable part of daily life throughout the novel. The girls become the first girls they know to become altar servers and enjoy a close and rewarding relationship with the Priest. The novel includes six interludes consisting of tales of various saints.
Throughout the book the girls dream about life outside the convent. As time goes by, each of the girls has unique experiences and attains a life separate from the others. At various turns each leaves the convent and moves on.
Domet does not tell us the time frame for the story, the location of the convent or which war is being waged. The novel is captivating and Domet is a talent to watch. The book was released October 4 and can be reserved at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking on http://encore.cuyahoga.lib.oh.us/iii/encore/record/C__Rb11216867__Sguineveres__P0%2C1__Orightresult__X7?lang=eng&suite=gold