Monday, 17 August 2020

Book Review: The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Amanda Kennedy

Having just finished reading The Betrayals, I feel as though in a daze. It was such a wonderful, well-crafted and brilliant tale of "alternate" historical fiction which I couldn't put down. 

The setting is that of a boarding school, presumably in an alternate reality of 1930's England, where for the first time a female has been appointed Magister Ludi where previously only men have been allowed to study the Grand Jeu - a spiritual game combining philosophy, mathematics, music and literature. There are flashbacks to a decade previous, where the schools' two brightest students, initially rivals, slowly begin to form an allegiance. Yet there is tragedy, in more forms than one, which change the course of their lives forever, and the ghostly voice of a little girl who haunts the halls. 

There's so much to enjoy in this finely-tuned novel: politics, religious persecution, the role of women in society, the meaning of friendship and love, and above all, betrayals. I found it fascinating, immersive and utterly wonderful. 

For anyone seeking further insight into the practice and nature of The Grand Jeu, read Collin's afterward in which she explains how she was inspired by Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. This was for me an unfamiliar title, though now having this insight I am able to appreciate The Betrayals even more.

Rating: 5/5

Amanda Kennedy / Book Blogger, Writer & Editor

Amanda is a lifelong learner and book lover who lives in the North of England with her family and several cats. She writes book reviews, literary news and bookish articles here on All My Pretty Books.

To learn more about Amanda's own work, visit her personal website.

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