The Divines by Ellie Eaton - A Book Review

Happy Publication Day to The Divines by Ellie Eaton! This book is a powerful look at what happens when one woman reflects upon her time spent in an English boarding school as her twentieth reunion approaches.

Plot Summary

The Divines are the girls of St. John the Divines, an elite English boarding school. The Divines were famous for their hair flipping, chain smoking and harassment of teachers. Josephine, now in her thirties, spent five years at the school and receives an invitation to the upcoming reunion of former students of the institution that was closed in disgrace with her graduating class. Now married with a daughter of her own and living in California, Josephine is undecided on whether or not to attend. She hasn’t even spoken to any of her former classmates in fifteen years. The invitation evokes a strong need, however, to reflect upon her time as a Divine. The story is told from multiple timeframes - as a student, as a newlywed and the present. As the memories surface , Josephine’s life begins to change: she begins having difficulties with her marriage, she can’t concentrate on her work and most importantly her self identity is challenged.

Book Review

I enjoyed reading this book. The character development was excellent. I appreciated the insight Josephine gleamed from others when they spoke of how she was perceived while at school. Where the book excels to me, however, is in observing Josephine’s personal insight into her true identity as the book progresses. On a more critical note, while I found the antics of The Divines were at times humorous, there was also evidence that some of these girls could be unkind to the point of bullying. The way they treated the staff and town’s residents was abhorrent, strongly suggestive of a pretentious upbringing likely fuelled by their time at the school. As a result, I found the characters were not likeable - a must have for me in order to be fully invested in a book. Additionally, the story felt a little long in parts and I found myself wanting to return to Josephine’s current storyline.

Audiobook Review

I listened to the audiobook edition of the book which was narrated by Imogen Church who gives a very good performance. I appreciated her ability to voice several characters and found her pacing to be excellent. I listened to the book at my usual 1.25x speed which I found to be comfortable. I would not hesitate to recommend the audiobook format to those readers who enjoy this format.

What I Liked About The Divines

  • The development of the characters
  • Josephine's change in self identity
  • The way that Josephine eventually gained insight
What I Would Have Like to be Different

  • Likeability of at least one character
  • A faster pace to the book to keep the reader's interest.

I Recommend This Book To:

Fans of Literary Fiction or Women's Fiction.


Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Audio for the ARC of this audiobook in exchange for the honest review provided here.

My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

Add The Divines by Ellie Eaton to your Goodreads shelf

Similar Books I've Reviewed:

Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford
All the Acorns on the Forest Floor by Kim Hooper
The End of the Day by Bill Clegg
Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Thanks for reading!  Have you read The Divines by Ellie Eaton?  Let me know your thoughts!


  1. A character where you notice their developments throughout the story helps make for a good one. And where you have an extension of lovable characters, it makes for a reread.

  2. Your review is insightful. The story sounds interesting and intriguing as well. Congrats and Good luck to Ellie Eaton on publishing her debut novel.

  3. This sounds exactly the sort of book I'd love - a return to school and multiple time frames to keep me guessing. Also, that's a stunning cover pic, Jodie!

  4. I love women’s fiction so will definitely check this out! Thank you for sharing / I love books set in boarding schools! ❣️

  5. I've seen this around but never knew if it was worth the read! Definitely sounds like one for the list, thanks for sharing.

    Anika |

  6. Thank you for this very organized and clear review! This book sounds like it would be of interest to me. The boarding school/flashbacks to the past remind me a bit of The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, which I really enjoyed.

    1. Thanks Sharila! I appreciate your comment and the book recommendation!

  7. This review was very informative and I'd be interested in reading this book. For me it's the different time periods that are set in the book. Great piece.

  8. Oooh this sounds like something I'd enjoy and your review was so in depth. Thank you for sharing.

    Tash - A Girl with a View

  9. I love literary fiction, especially stories that often take place in England or have roots in English schools, so this book interests me! I love that you share your honest thoughts while not revealing any spoilers. :)

  10. I like the sound of this, they don't have to be likeable for me to enjoy it most of the time so I don't think that would be an issue. I love that it's set over three different periods of her life too. Great review!


  11. This sounds like something that I would really enjoy. I love that your review has spiked my interest without giving too much away.

  12. This seems like a really good story. I'll like to read about how Josephine developed from her time in school till she's married.

  13. Ahh it's a shame that the characters didn't work for you - I'm the same that I want to be able to engage with the characters. I'm glad that it didn't undermine the entire book for you though. Great review!

  14. You gave such an amazing review of this book. This sounds like the type of book I would love to read. I'll definitely give this book a try. Great review x!