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  • Published: 15 May 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784701741
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

The Girls

The bestselling debut that took 2016 by storm - a brilliant coming-of-age story with a dark heart: 'This book will break your heart and blow your mind' Lena Dunham

A gripping and dark fictionalised account of life inside the Manson family from one of the most exciting young voices in fiction.

If you're lost, they'll find you.

Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed.

It's the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.

If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live.

Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?

'Taut, beautiful and savage, Cline's novel demands your attention' Guardian

  • Published: 15 May 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784701741
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Emma Cline

Emma Cline is from California. Her first novel, The Girls, was a Sunday Times bestseller and the highest selling debut novel of 2016. It has been published in over 40 countries worldwide. In 2017 Emma was selected as a Granta Best Young American Novelist.

Her short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta and the Paris Review, where she was awarded the Plimpton Prize for Fiction, and have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 and 2018 Best American Short Story anthologies. Her story ‘What Can You Do with a General’ was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award 2019.

Also by Emma Cline

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Praise for The Girls

A coming-of-age tale like no other … the book of the summer


Stunning…thrilling… A spectacular achievement

The Times

This book will break your heart and blow your mind

Lena Dunham

The read of the summer

India Knight, Sunday Times

A tense and claustrophobic read


Taut, beautiful and savage, Cline’s novel demands your attention


An exhilarating read

Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing

Darker than anything Gone Girl had to offer


A seductive and arresting coming-of-age story...spellbinding

New York Times Book Review

An intensely atmospheric story that perfectly captures the aching loneliness and longing of a teenage girl.

Sarra Manning, Red

One of the best novels I've read about female adolescence... And as with so many novels about cults, The Girls is set to inspire a cultish devotion all of its own

Evening Standard

A joy to read… Intense, clever, beautiful

Sunday Times

Brimming with intelligence and ideas… Buy it for the Mansonesque plot but savour it for its insights

Irish Times

I don't know which is more amazing, Emma Cline's understanding of human beings or her mastery of language.

Mark Haddon

The Girls is a brilliant and intensely consuming novel -- imposing not just for a writer so young, but for any writer, any time

Richard Ford

If the cult story and adolescent rite of passage are familiar tropes, what truly distinguishes this remarkable debut novel is its lush, beautifully calibrated prose, which captures the drug-fuelled squalor of the chaotic ranch and the uncertainties of youth… Brilliant.

Simon Humphreys, Mail on Sunday

Emma Cline’s first novel positively hums with fresh, startling, luminous prose. THE GIRLS announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in American fiction.

Jennifer Egan

Set to be the biggest literary debut of the summer, you'll soon be seeing its retro cover everywhere... Cline perfectly captures the spirit and nuances of female adolescence


Heart-wrenchingly nostalgic… Brings the details of girlhood rushing back... new voice in American fiction


Precisely, gorgeously written… What sets the book apart is its exquisitely forensic portrait of what it is to be a young woman.

Alice Jones, Scotsman

With the maturity of a writer twice her age, Cline has written a wise novel that’s never showy: a quiet, seething confession of yearning and terror... Debut novels like this are rare, indeed

Washington Post

‘****… Luxuriant prose… Her storytelling ability began to weave its magic as the narrative builds to a dramatic and horrific climax.

Vanessa Berridge, Daily Express

One of my personal books of the year. Brilliantly evoking the period of the late sixties…her writing gets right into the mind of a teenage girl… I knew this was a writer I wanted to know more about.

Alexandra Shulman, Vogue

She is exceptionally good at capturing the fearful, conflicted sensibility of a 14-year-old girl… The sheer poetic lyricism of her prose is remarkable.

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

If you are an awkward, cynical person, this kind of hype might put you off, might make you look for flaws. Good luck. The Girls is fabulous... It is almost certainly the book of the summer: it is saturated with colours and the mingled smells of jasmine and decay. It's extremely readable but it has a fringed heart of darkness

Emerald Street

She delivers magnificent prose, sentence after sentence after sentence … she is a fantastic writer, her intelligence is extraordinary, with a penetration, an understanding of her subject

Linda Grant

The most hyped debut novel of the year – and it fully lived up to its promise.

Geoff Dyer, Observer, Book of the Year

Debut by an author so unmistakably in possession of great analytical intelligence and a gift for spinning theory’s straw into story’s gold.

Laura Gallagher, Literary Review

The Girls stands comparison with Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides… There is a self-aware coolness about Cline.

Patricia Nicol, Sunday Times

An intense evocation of adolescence…absorbing debut.

Lidija Haas, Sunday Telegraph

A tense and claustrophobic read that perfectly and painfully conjures the fragile expectancy of teenage girls.


A hazy, lazy, highly fictionalized but precisely, gorgeously written reworking of the Charles Manson story… The book of the summer.

Alice Jones

Cline is extraordinarily good… A beautifully written, consuming story which perfectly captures the mindset of an adolescent girl.

Alice O'Keefe, Bookseller

It triumphantly lives up to the hype

James Walton, Reader's Digest

Keenly anticipated.

Sunday Times

Cline deftly depicts the pressures that shape life as a young woman… She captures the bonds between women that both sustain and resist the violence of patriarchy… The atmosphere of languorous sun-drenched danger will stay with you for days.


Cline hypnotically unpicks the psyche of a teenage girl… Cool, dreamy and dark debut.


This is a stand-out debut from a hugely accomplished 26-year-old author. It’s beautifully written, completely gripping and perfectly catches a girl on the cusp of adulthood.


Beautiful, heady language and under-the-skin storytelling.

Kerry Fowler, Sainsbury's Magazine

A good shot at becoming the must-read novel of the summer.

Alexandra Allter, Miami Herald

Illuminates the darker side of infatuation under the glare of the Californian sun.

Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist

Vivid, exacting portrait of a vulnerable young girl coming of age.

Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

Gripping read.

Good Housekeeping

The strength of The Girls lies in Cline’s ability to evoke both the textures and atmosphere of those painful in-between times… [Cline] is a powerful interpreter of ambiguous emotional vectors, and the catastrophic directions in which they can lead.

Alex Clark, Observer

Cline’s real achievement is not so much the dread-filled journey to the book’s harrowing climax, however, but her vividly drawn central character and how she stumbles from invisible, impressionable bystander to unwitting accomplice… Cline is excellent at capturing the complex negotiations and compromises of girlhood… The Girls is a horror story for our times, a gripping and richly poetic account… Its ambition and reach are immense.

Gary Kaill, Skinny

Vividly reimagines 1960s California… Cline’s portrait of teenage girl-dom is note perfect.

Hannah Shaddock, Radio Times

Dubbed fiction’s most exciting new voice… This page-turner is a powerful insight into the culture of gang mentality… The read of the summer.

Irish Tatler

Notable for its finely wrought prose, its piercing insight into the teen mind and the gorgeous way it relates terrible things. Read it before the movie is cast…and enjoy Evie for the wonderfully written creation she is’


Gets off to a quietly thrilling start… Her sentences are often strong and lovely, indicative of voice rather than merely of style.

Dwight Garner, New York Times

Mesmerising novel… Impressive book’

Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Express

First the heady language and sensuous descriptions will hook you, then the extraordinary story of free love, intoxication and violence… Remarkable debut… The Girls brims with intrigue… It’s the intimacy and intricacy of Cline’s prose and her sharp sense of humanity that makes the book shimmer with life… The Girls is a spectacular story.

Culture Whisper

Sun-scorched coming of age chiller… Brutally convincing.

Anthony Cummins, Metro

If you’re only going to pack one book next to your swimming trunks this year, this is the one to go for… [Emma Cline] Has hit a home run with her first swing.

Joshua Burt, Independent

It’s disturbing…but you keep reading.


Wonderfully readable, and acutely observed, this is that rare thing: a beach novel of real substance.

Dan Brotzel, UK Press Syndication

The big holiday read of summer. Find a sunlounger and get started.

Sunday Times

Subtly provoking novel… The strength of The Girls lies in Cline’s ability to evoke both the textures and atmosphere of those painful in-between times; the desperate rush to fill an emotional vacuum… Cline has a talent for capturing that uncanniness, the fault lines in our sense of our stability… she is a powerful interpreter of ambiguous emotional vectors, and the catastrophic directions in which they can lead.

Alex Clark, Guardian

Thrilling… Gritty, shocking and ever so readable; more than living up to the hype that greeted its initial sale.

Running in Heels

Wonderfully readable, finely written and acutely observed.

Dan Brotzel, Irish News

One of the pleasures…is its immediacy… The book is a trancelike accumulation of intense adolescent feelings and myopic impressions… The setting is rendered both vividly and delicately… [A] Slender, absorbing book.

Lidija Haas, Daily Telegraph

If you're only going to pack one book this year, make it this one.


This chilling story of fractured innocence is beautifully written in wonderfully descriptive, sometimes dream-like prose. A stunningly powerful, spellbinding cautionary tale.

Deirdre O''Brien, Sunday Mirror

Both in person and on the page Cline is wise beyond her years. I read the book with a biro underlining phrases that I wish I could write. I am no longer jealous, I am just in awe.

Marlanne Power, Irish Independent

'I really enjoyed it... A compelling coming-of-age story... Cline focuses not on the murders themselves, but on the landscape of adolescence, accurately portraying the boredom and lassitude, the yearning and insecurities of that awkward transitional stage... Stunningly written, in fresh, youthful prose, expect to see The Girls on deckchairs, beach towels and best-seller lists over the coming months

Justine Carbery, Irish Independent

Unnervingly perceptive … Part murderous thriller, part meditation on the vulnerability of teenage girls, it’s an exquisite, insightful and chilling read.

Alexandra Heminsley, Pool

Unexpected and brilliant debut novel.

Yaa Gyasi, I-D Vice

An intense evocation of adolescence…absorbing debut novel.

Lidija Haas, Telegraph

As gripping as a thriller, it’s a powerful exploration of hero worship of all kinds, and the shapes into which girls force themselves as they attempt to grow up.

Anna Carey, Irish Times

This year's Miniaturist

Sam Baker, Pool

A fantastic writer, her intelligence is extraordinary

Linda Grant, Radio 4

Gripping novel… Cline’s debut is a real page-turner.

Olivia-Anne Cleary, Reveal

It is the language which elevates the novel to brilliance… Cline takes ordinary words and fits them together in patterns that shouldn’t work but…bring[s] a vibrancy to her prose that captivates.

Mature Times

Not the cheeriest summer read of the year, but it is one of the most powerful… Cline masterfully uses the sultriness of the season to explore the complex negotiations of girlhood.


Highly charged literary debut… Visceral, seductive and delicately seething, Cline articulates the labyrinth anxieties of adolescence and the importance of belonging with a personal, finely tuned prose and a restrained, drip-feed pace that belies her age.

Natalie Rigg, Another

A dark, erotically charged story of seduction, coercion and abuse emerges that has deliberate echoes of the Manson Family massacres in 1969… Cline brilliantly conveys the predatory cultural and sexual forces to which teenage girls are so often vulnerable. And her prose is completely to die for.


The Girls stands apart from other treatments of Manson.

Scotland on Sunday

Gripping, and highly impressive.

Stephanie Cross, Lady

Sumptuous prose… Believe the hype: she’s one to watch.

The Big Issue

The narrative is layered and complex, as even the young Evie seems to be an astute observer of human nature, who does not gloss over the less glamorous details, even in those she loves and admires. Throughout the novel, the fragility of the relationships are laid bare… [An] Immersive experience, both for the reader, and a narrator looking to reclaim some of her most vivid memories.

Conor O'Donovan, Headstuff

A gripping read.

Joannae Finney, Good Housekeeping

Cline brilliantly captures the precise, sultry prose the vulnerable and highly-charged sensibility of adolescence in a hotly-tipped debut inspired by the Manson Family massacre that – for once – justifies the hype.

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

Eloquent, coming-of-age debut… I was quite sure it could never live up to the hype. How wrong I was… Well-crafted prose… This is a perceptive, insightful and beautifully written book on the often harsh realities of the formative teenage years and a telling truth of what some will do to belong and feel loved. It is a must-read.

Jennifer McShane, Image

It unsettles and disturbs in unpredictable ways. Above all, Cline is excellent on the female coffee table book adolescent psyche and the ways in which girlhood is so often an act performed for the opposite sex… The end result is gripping, and highly impressive.

Stephanie Cross, Lady

An intense evocation of adolescence…set to be the breakout book of summer. Every page throbs with the threat of violence.

Daily Telegraph

The writing is lush and surprising.

Marisa Meltzer, Vogue

[It is] shockingly assured for a first novel.

Mark Haddon, Guardian

Already I’m hooked… The writing style…is totally engaging – shrewd and observant but with a certain softness. I’ll report back when I’ve finished, but I think this will be a great summer read.

Ruth Crilly, A Model Recommends

The Girls is compulsively readable… A strikingly accomplished debut. Evie’s voice shimmers with vivid metaphorical language… There are some truly breathtaking passages — lush and lapidary and full of startling imagery… A fierce challenge to our received notion of the 1960s as an era of peace signs, protest marches and free love, and [this] adds a note of profundity to this highly impressive first novel.

Alex Preston, Financial Times

Emma Cline's The Girls is so brilliant.

Hadley Freeman, Guardian Weekly

A compelling novel… [A] nuanced and deeply drawn character study of teenage ennui and anger… In luminous prose, the novel maps Evie’s obsessive psyche… A compelling and startling new work of fiction. Ms. Cline brilliantly shows how far adolescent loneliness can push a girl in her desire to be loved.

The Economist

[A] steamy hit.


[It] is so brilliant… The only thing more perfect about this book than Cline’s woozily dreamy prose is her timing.

Hadley Freeman, Guardian

The Summer read for you... Cline’s gorgeous novel is both stunning and shocking. We dare you not to devour in one sitting

Amie-Jo Locke, In-Style

[A] literary page-turner.

Claire Coughlan, Irish Independent

A startlingly intense, brilliant and brooding debut novel….written with luminous foreboding lyricism.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard, Book of the Year

[It is] intelligent and thoughtful.


Cline’s portrayal of the fragile teen years and the power they have in shaping the woman you become will resonate with everyone.

Sarah Holmes, Woman's Weekly

Cline’s language…is splendid at conjuring pictures.

Kathy Watson, Tablet

Cline - from California, where the novel is set, has crafted a distinct poetic timbre that devises similes galore to augment the imagery and the protagonist’s insight… Inspired, I look forward to reading more from this highly talented author. I will indeed re-Cline.


Cline’s structure…allows her to apply her acute observations about girlhood to today’s world.

Isobel Thompson, Times Literary Supplement

The summer’s standout debut… A tense, febrile imagining… The Girls is a subtle, restrained and beautifully textured telling of one of pop culture history’s most luridly hideous moments, with a heightened, dreamlike quality that tips irrevocably into nightmare.

Writing Magazine

I read this in a single sitting a few months back, and it remains my favourite read of 2016. The writing is so beautiful; the sentences perfectly formed, cumulated in a plot that slowly draws you in… Eloquent, perceptive and insightful, you won’t be able to put this one down.


This book was sublime. I read it as the last of the sunshine faded into autumn and I felt transported into 1969 California.

Max and Mummy

[A] clever debut novel… Gripping.

Jan Moir, Daily Mail, Book of the Year

[A] clever debut novel… Gripping.

Jan Moir, Daily Mail, Book of the Year

Undeniably the dazzling fiction debut of the year, this brilliant American novel is a vivid evocation of California in 1969… It is the author’s luminous prose style that excels. Exhilarating.

Tatler, Book of the Year

A spellbinding, supremely evocative coming-of-age story

Deborah Ross, The Times, Book of the Year

[A] compulsively readable debut [which] is a vivid examination of adolescence.

Rebecca Rose, Financial Times, Book of the Year

A fluent, engrossing debut novel.

A Little Bird, Book of the Year

The Californian setting is intoxicating, as laced with sunlight as filth, and its insight into the teenage girl’s mind is extraordinary.

Alexandra Heminsley, Pool, Book of the Year

A book of glistening prose.

RTE Guide, Book of the Year

Believe the hype; it is simply brilliant.

Jennifer McShane, Image Magazine, Book of the Year

A shimmering tale of adolescence and sexual awakening written in prose that aptly feels almost hallucinatory

Claire Allfree, Metro, Book of the Year

A haunting and gripping read.

Irish Country Magazine, Book of the Year

Highly recommended if you’re in need of a good read.

Jennifer Selway, Daily Express

Both shocking and subtle, its real power lies in the exploration of girlhood itself.

Kate Hamer, Big Issue

Brilliantly done… The year is 1969. Evie notices a group of scavenging girls – they belong to a nearby cult. And this cult is horrific. Think of the Manson family… A seriously excellent debut novel.

William Leith, Evening Standard

As Lena Dunham says, it'll both break your heart and blow your mind.

Hannah Dunn, Red Online

Through the story of the Manson family and their brutal crimes, Cline explores the intensity and loneliness of female adolescence with an impressive mastery of language.

Alexander Newson, Upcoming

A superb, chilling novel of doom-laden adolescence.

Simon Sebag, Week

A thrilling, savage exploration of how a teenager gets sucked into a cult led by a Charles Manson figure.

Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph

The writing is so beautiful; the sentences perfectly formed, cumulated in a plot that slowly draws you in… Eloquent, perceptive and insightful, you won’t be able to put this one down.

Jennifer McShane, Image

Few books have such a dramatic effect on me but Emma Cline’s stirring debut The Girls is one I’ve never managed to get out of my head… This is a perceptive, insightful and beautifully written book on the often harsh realities of the formative teenage years and a telling truth of what some will do to belong and feel loved. It is a must-read and one that is more than worth sitting down with a second or third time.

Jennifer McShane, Image

The novel has a number of things going for it, from Cline's gorgeous prose to her knack for plot and timing, to her way of presenting Evie's electric, often jolting moments of self-recognition. But the aspect of The Girls that captivated me the most was how Cline channels that particular period in a girl's life when she is consumed with the need to be seen, to be known—by her mother, by slightly older girls, and most often, by men.

Jennifer Schaffer, Vice

Thanks to Cline’s lyrical prose, which is at once as clear as the Californian skies of the novel’s setting and as evocative as a sunshine drenched Polaroid picture, The Girls perfectly captures the twilight years of the hippie era, where the rot of its seedy drug-fuelled underbelly shattered the dream of peace and love and culminated in a gruesome massacre that shocked the world.

Dean Muscat, Nudge

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