Eleanor Catton (Granta)

The Rehearsal is not like other novels.

The book’s multiple viewpoints and complex time lines, along with the purple prose spouted by its characters, add up to a very post-modern reading experience.

It sounds terrible in theory, but Kiwi Eleanor Catton’s debut is a bold and accomplished work which hums with exactly the kind of youthful exuberance you’d expect from a 24-year-old, first-time novelist.

Ostensibly, The Rehearsal is about the ripple effects of a school sex scandal in which music teacher Mr Saladin is forced to leave Abbey Grange girls school in disgrace after he is discovered to be having a relationship with one of 
his students.

But in fact The Rehearsal is no more about a student/teacher affair than Forrest Gump is about a man with learning difficulties.

Steeped in theatricality and rich with fascinating characters, The Rehearsal puts a big fat question mark over the idea of ‘absolute truth’, and looks at how humans blur the line between reality and performance in their everyday lives.

ALISON GRINTER