Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Daughters of the Revolution
  • Written by Carolyn Cooke
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780307741462
  • Our Price: $15.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Daughters of the Revolution

Buy now from Random House

  • Daughters of the Revolution
  • Written by Carolyn Cooke
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780307594730
  • Our Price: $24.95
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Daughters of the Revolution

Buy now from Random House

  • Daughters of the Revolution
  • Written by Carolyn Cooke
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307596611
  • Our Price: $11.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Daughters of the Revolution

Daughters of the Revolution

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Written by Carolyn CookeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Carolyn Cooke

eBook

List Price: $11.99

eBook

On Sale: June 07, 2011
Pages: 192 | ISBN: 978-0-307-59661-1
Published by : Vintage Knopf
Daughters of the Revolution Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Daughters of the Revolution
  • Email this page - Daughters of the Revolution
  • Print this page - Daughters of the Revolution
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Categories for this book
Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
fiction (6)
fiction (6)
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

From the O. Henry Award–winning author of the story collection The Bostons—a New York Times Notable Book, Los Angeles Times Book of the Year and winner of the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers—an exquisite first novel set at a disintegrating New England prep school.

It’s 1968. The prestigious but cash-strapped Goode School in the town of Cape Wilde is run by its aging, philandering headmaster, Goddard Byrd, known to both his friends and his enemies as God. With Cape Wilde engulfed by the social and political storms of integration, coeducation and the sexual revolution, God has confidently promised coeducation “over my dead body.” And then, through a clerical error, the Goode School admits its first female student: Carole Faust, a brilliant, intractable fifteen-year-old black girl.

What does it mean to be the First Girl?

Carolyn Cooke has written a ferociously intelligent, richly sensual novel about the lives of girls and women, the complicated desperation of daughters without fathers and the erosion of paternalistic power in an elite New England town on the cusp of radical social change. Remarkable for the precision of its language, the incandescence of its images, and the sly provocations of its moral and emotional predicaments, Daughters of the Revolution is a novel of exceptional force and beauty.

Excerpt

He begins with a bang at the center of his story. It’s spring of that revolutionary year, not too far in. Meringues of snow line the sidewalks, but a freshness cuts the air. Goddard Byrd—known to his friends and enemies as “God”—has just emerged from an afternoon at the Parker House Hotel, a virile, uncircumcised male of his class, upbringing and era. His prostate gland and his praeputium have not yet been removed, and he is unburdened, just now, of Puritanism’s load. He has drunk a glass of gin, then lain with Mrs. Viktor Rebozos—whom he must remember to call Aileen—and both of them are better for this exercise.

In bed, she tells him he is a bear, all paws and claws. She insults him, purrs, climbs on top. She wants to know if he could be any wild animal, which would he be?

An animal? He would be a tiger!

(She would be a gazelle.)

He likes himself better this way, his natural shyness tempered by adrenaline. She is more fl exible than he, more at ease, depending on the occasion—more pliable. Women are pliable, he thinks; they revel in the shifting relations required by husbands,
children, lovers, others. (How can this be a matter of opinion?) He can’t tell Mrs. Rebozos these things; she might eat him alive.

They lie together in the fading afternoon light, the March grisaille. “The most beautiful words in the English language are sex in the afternoon,” she tells him, and he can’t, in the moment, find reason to correct her. Mrs. Rebozos’s tongue darts suddenly across his left nipple, and God rises with an animal roar, his body fire and ice.

She smiles. “I read that in The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana.”

“Do it again,” says God.

Her tongue and lips move excruciatingly over his body, describing ancient erotic techniques from the Orient. He rises obediently as a snake in a basket. God lifts his head to look at her, and feels an organ breach (liver? spleen?). She is so gamine, indeed! She looks like a boy. Almost. Short hair. Hoops in her ears. All of it signifying what? Maybe nothing. Eventually, he pins her to her back, which she seems to enjoy, and humps her in the familiar way, running breathlessly toward a goal, which he reaches.

“You’re beginning to get it, my earnest missionary,” she tells him afterward. “Let’s hope it’s not too late.”

They share a plate of cold roast beef, a famous roll. Naked, quivering a little, she wraps a blue knit scarf around her shoulders. “My dark secret,” she says. “All my life I’ve been drawn to misogynist coots like you. Like a taste for black coffee—incredible when you think about it.” Even God is surprised that a free-spirited woman such as Mrs. Rebozos would so defi antly stand beside an old man, in his shadow, eat meat with him and be his prize!

“I have to go,” he says into her ear. “You could stay all afternoon; you could have a bath.”

“Just a quick shower,” she says. “I have a women’s thing. Last week, we inspected our cervixes. Mine looked like an eye.
It blinked.

God tries to conceal his horror. At three, he descends, leaving Mrs. Rebozos to enjoy the rented room, whose extravagant price stabs him when he thinks of it. (In spite of the evidence, he imagines her as feminine, passive, mysterious and inert. Women
in their beds, Rorschach blots on luminous sheets.)

He advances through the lobby and rolls into the street like a well-oiled man on wheels. The atmosphere of hostility and depravity beyond the doors of the Parker House stings him like a slap. The street is fi lthy; even the city fathers are off their game, lax or stoned. Girls in paper dresses—temporary dresses for temporary girls—giggle at him. He’s harmless, they think, the last of a dying breed.

God passes gently into a haze of mustard-purple-maroon and marijuana fumes. In spite of the expense of the hotel and the crudeness of the street, he feels deeply at home in this world. It is divided and antagonistic, fi lled with human hatreds bred by race, religion and economics; he loves it anyway.


From the Hardcover edition.
Carolyn Cooke

About Carolyn Cooke

Carolyn Cooke - Daughters of the Revolution

Photo © Courtesy of the author

Carolyn Cooke’s Daughters of the Revolution was listed among the best novels of 2011 by the San Francisco Chronicle and The New Yorker. Her short fiction, collected in The Bostons, won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and has appeared in AGNI, The Paris Review and two volumes each of The Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. She directs the MFA writing program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
Praise | Awards

Praise

 
“Lifts the bell jar off the rarified world of traditional male prep schools. . . . Wickedly funny.” —Ms. 
  
"Mordantly funny and coolly streamlined, deeply humane and slyly wise." —St. Petersburg Times
  
“Ferocious, astonishing. . . . [Cooke’s] profound, honest compassion for all her characters, men and women, makes them so engrossing, you almost forget what they’re up against.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[Daughters of the Revolution] shimmers with intimate and revealing detail.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Cooke writes with such delicacy and control, such luminous warmth, that the only disappointment comes when the book ends.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Carolyn Cooke writes with knives and feathers. She slices into her subjects so we see the insides of them and she dusts off the everyday covering to reveal the true contours beneath. Her Daughters of the Revolution is bristling with smarts. Read it slowly and savor the gift this author gives her readers: fierce intelligence, sly humor and not a moment of missing the folly in life.” —Susan Minot, author of Rapture
 
“Wise [and] exquisitely spare.” —Marie Claire
 
“Cooke's writing is so sensuous and alert that it would be easy to miss the novel's symbolic qualities.” —The New Yorker
 
“So smart, so visceral, so sexy. . . . Absolutely brilliant.” —Kate Walbert, author of A Short History of Women 
 
“[A] charming, provocative, intelligent novel” —Hudson Valley News
 
“Fiercely intelligent.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“If you read just one book of fiction this year, this should be the one.” —The Portland Press Herald
 
“This smart, sexy, sarcastic, sophisticated novel from Cooke . . . defies genre comparisons but has particular relevance.” — Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Cooke’s writing flows and sparkles.” —The Washington Independent Review of Books 
  
“Exuberant bad behavior runs like a life force through this book, in which every sentence is chiseled exactly.” —Sarah Stone, author of The True Sources of the Nile

Awards

FINALIST 2011 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Reader's Guide|About the Book|Author Biography|Discussion Questions|Suggestions

About the Book

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group's discussion of Daughters of the Revolution, the debut novel from acclaimed writer Carolyn Cooke.

About the Guide

“So smart, so visceral, so sexy . . . Absolutely brilliant.” —Kate Walbert, author of A Short History of Women
 
From the O. Henry Award–winning author of the story collection The Bostons—a New York Times Notable Book, Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and winner of the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers—an exquisite first novel set at a disintegrating New England prep school.
 
It’s 1968. The prestigious but cash-strapped Goode School in the town of Cape Wilde is run by its aging, philandering headmaster, Goddard Byrd, known to both his friends and his enemies as God. With the nation engulfed by the social and political storms of integration, coeducation, and the sexual revolution, God has confidently promised coeducation will come to Goode “over my dead body.” And then, through a clerical error, the Goode School admits its first female student: Carole Faust, a brilliant, intractable fifteen-year-old black girl.
 
A ferociously intelligent, richly sensual novel about the awkward collision of privilege, tradition, and the possibility of radical social change, Carolyn Cooke’s debut is remarkable for the precision of its language, the incandescence of its images, and the grace and gravity of its themes. A distinctive new voice in American fiction.

About the Author

Carolyn Cooke’s short-story collection, The Bostons, was a winner of the 2002 PEN/Robert Bingham award for a first book and a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award. Her fiction has appeared in AGNI, The Paris Review, and Ploughshares, and in two volumes each of The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She teaches in the MFA writing program at the California Institute of Integral Studies and lives in San Francisco.

Discussion Guides

1. Who is the main character in this novel? Why are the EV sections told in first person?

2. There are several unusual character names here: God, Heck, Mei-Mei, EV, Pilgrim. What is the metaphorical significance of the names?

3. For God, “loss was one theme: the headship of the school, the battle over girls, memory, prostate, lung, teeth, foreskin.” What are some other themes in the novel?

4. What does the title mean? Who are the daughters of the revolution?

5. Discuss the class issues raised throughout the book. What effect does money have in determining one’s place in society as opposed to gender or ethnicity?

6. Why isn’t the story told chronologically? Discuss how the author plays with time.

7. What do you imagine happens to Archer Rebozos in the years following the accident?

8. Goddard Byrd swears that the Goode School will admit girls “over my dead body.” Is God a misogynist?

9. God sees a phrase written in graffiti: “Are we not drawn onward we few drawn onward to new era?” What does it mean? Mrs. Rebozos points out that it’s a palindrome. Why is this significant?

10. Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick comes up again and again over the course of the novel. Carole Faust compares herself to the whale, calling herself a “fearful symbol.” What point is the author making with this connection? What is the role of literature in the novel?

11. In what ways does Carole represent the radical changes of the 1960s?

12. EV says, “Mei-Mei thought my father’s death was a story about accidents, threats, loss, abandonment, risk. ‘Be careful,’ she used to tell me . . . ‘Don’t die.’” It sounds like she thinks her father’s death was about none of those things. What did it mean to her?

13. Several times, we are told that Mrs. O’Greefe had her own nipple grafted onto her forehead. What is the significance of this act?

14. Discuss EV’s trip to the Caribbean island, which ends with the news of her roommate’s murder. What does the reader learn during this section of the book? Why is the reckless EV safe while the cautious Jess dies?

15. Mei-Mei points out the similarities between Pilgrim and God. Why does EV choose a man like Pilgrim?

16. After she has sex with Pilgrim, Mei-Mei wonders if she had ever been a good mother to EV. Do you think she was? Why does she sleep with Pilgrim?

17. Why does God get circumcised? How does it bring about his downward spiral?

18. Discuss the character of Mrs. Graves. Why is she so devoted to God? What does she get out of their relationship?

19. In her speech at the end of the novel, Carole says that God is “the secret of my success.” How so? Do you think he knew this?

20. When Mei-Mei tells Carole about Heck’s accident and the life jacket, EV is shocked, because it “changed our whole story into a story about power and economics, about our lesser equipment and poorer tools. I’d misunderstood everything.” How does this one detail make such a difference? Why hadn’t Mei-Mei told EV about it before?

Suggested Readings

Old School by Tobias Wolff; Testimony by Anita Shreve; Skippy Dies by Paul Murray; Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld; Moby-Dick by Herman Melville; Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag; The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

  • Daughters of the Revolution by Carolyn Cooke
  • June 05, 2012
  • Fiction - Literary
  • Vintage
  • $15.00
  • 9780307741462

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: