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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
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The Broken Girls

by Simone St. James

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4516034,319 (4.15)29
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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Simone St James has a lot of wheels turning in 'The Broken Girls', her sixth novel. Idlewild Hall in the present day is a third rate boarding school that closed decades ago. Fiona, whose sister was found dead on its grounds, is driven to investigate why it may be reopened and face her own doubts as to the guilt of the man who was convicted of her sister's murder. The novel weaves in and out of the past to explore the bond between four girls in the post WWII era and the tragedy that strikes one of them. Through all of this there is the legend of Mary Hand, whose spirit is said to haunt the school and infects the lives of those who hear her.
This was a chilling, suspenseful novel that makes the most of its setting and characters. St James balances her cast of characters in two timelines and makes the most of her setting. I liked how the supernatural touches didn't take over the plot of the novel. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 21, 2019 |
This was quite the mix of genres. There was a bit paranormal, some romance, mystery, suspense/thriller and history. The story is told using two timelines. In 1950, Idlewild Hall is a boarding school for girls. Whether they were orphans, their family didn't want them (illegitimacy) or they were incorrigible, Idlewild is where girls can be sent and often forgotten about. They're all damaged and hurt in their own way. Some of them put on a good face and are given a wide birth by the other girls, some are shy and quiet and the brunt of taunts. A group of four girls are rooming together in 4C. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, attitudes and personalities, they form a bond that can not be broken in life or death. The 2014 storyline surrounds the mysteries of Idlewild, the discovery of a dead body in the well and the stubborn refusal of Fiona to blindly accept the death of her sister and the conviction of her boyfriend. She insists there is more to the story and she will not stop digging until she gets her answer.

The characters in the past were likable as they were often hidden away for reasons that were not their fault. They tried to survive and develop the first real friends they had. The ones in 2014 were not the easiest to like. Fiona can rub people the wrong way and her boyfriend/detective seems to be afraid to do the right thing. The new owners of the Idlewild Property are secretive and again, hard to believe and like. The beginning of the story is a bit slow, but do not give up on this one. It was an engrossing read and as the story unfolded, I was riveted. I could not wait to see what was going to happen next and ended up reading more than half of the book in just a few hours, staying up long past my usual bedtime. Of course, I can not write this review without mentioning Mary Hand, the ghost. Mary Hand Mary Hand, Dead and buried underland. She'll say she wants to be your friend. Do not let her in again. Mary Hand is something of a legend among generations of Idlewild Girls. Many have claimed to see her. Some have heard her speak. Some have been shown things. One thing is for sure: once you meet the ghost in black that haunts the grounds, you will never forget her.

This is definitely an enjoyable read that was much more than I ever expected. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a little of everything, a mystery that's emotional and a bit spooky. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss.
( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
I read this book because it kept appearing as a recommendation. The book goes back and forth between a boarding school in Barrons, VT in the 1950s and present day. The legend is that the school and its grounds are haunted by Mary Hand who lost her baby. One of the girls in the 1950s story is killed in the very beginning of the book. Another woman in the present day story lost her sister 20 years earlier on the grounds of the school to a murderer. How do the stories relate to each other? What really happened 6o years earlier and 20 years earlier? Are the killers brought to justice?
This was the first book I read my this author. It was interesting but ghost stories are too far fetched for me. The ghost story / haunted grounds did add to the story line.

#TheBrokenGirls #SimoneStJames ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
The story opens in Vermont in 1950. There is a home for wayward girls who no one wanted called Idlewild Hall. It is a bording school in the middle of nowhere. All the girls at the school believe the school to be haunted by someone named Mary Hand. They have all seen her, and Mary shows them their darkest secrets. One day, one of the girls disappears. The teachers think she has run away, but her friends know better. They are sure she has been killed, but they have no way to prove it.



Fast forward to 2014 - a young journalist named Fiona is obsessed with a case that is 20 years old. Her sister was murdered, the man is in jail, but Fiona still doesn't have closure. She keeps revisiting the site where her sister's body was found looking for clues. Her sister was murdered on the grounds of Idlewild Hall, which has long been closed down and rotting.



Soon, Fiona finds out that a rich benefactor has bought Idlewild and plans on restoring it to a girl's school. Fiona contacts the new owner and tells them she wants to write a story about the school and the past. What is unearthed during the restoration starts to piece together the past of Idlewild and the missing girl, and also Fiona's sister.



This was a good book - not great. The story was a little loose, and the events move around quickly leaving some holes in the plot. The story lines often felt undeveloped. The overall idea was great - I did have a few moments of chills since it was a ghost story - but not enough to make this into a great book.



It is a fast read, and easy to follow. I wouldn't run out and recommend it, but overall, I think it was a fine read. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
Finally! - a murder mystery and a ghost story which is intelligent, well-written, creepy, believable, suspenseful, and wrapped up in a logical and satisfying manner. Books like these are so rare. Kudos to the author! ( )
  flourgirl49 | Dec 22, 2018 |
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This book is for my mother, the greatest heroine of my life. I love you, Mom.
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The sun vanished below the horizon as the girl crested the rise of Old Barrons Road.
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More than sixty years after one of four friends in a reputedly haunted boarding school goes missing, journalist Fiona Sheridan resolves to learn her sister's fate before a harrowing discovery is made.

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