Cover Image: The Ruins

The Ruins

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Member Reviews

A great dual timeline thriller/drama that is also a coming of age story, touching down on very sensitive and difficult topics.
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The pitch had me at French chateau, but Wynne's atmospheric writing delivered more than I could have hoped. The novel feels like living in a dream, or perhaps a nightmare, and is the perfect escape for upcoming winter evenings...
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I had such high hopes for this book and although I was intrigued and kept reading it did sadly miss the mark for me. 
The parents weren’t just  unpleasant they were positively vile and their vitriol was incessant. It did become a little predictable. 
I wanted to like this book but with the abuse and dislike of all the characters  I did struggle. 
I think Wynne is a superb writer and Madam was one of my favourites last year. 
I’ll definitely be reading the next book and hope I love it more
Thank you for the opportunity to read this book and share an honest review
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Im not sure this book was exactly what I was expecting, it is very different in tone from Madam. Its told in two timelines, a 1985 French summer and 2010 when one of the summer guests comes to the same villa in their adult life.

I am the same age as the three girls in the book but their childhood felt so alien to me, the lack of parental affection or care, the burying of emotions and being a good guest, meek and polite to their elders - it was painful to read and so damaging to the girls. I wanted to know more about what made their mothers in particular tick, they were uniformly vile and uncaring - why? And the awful behaviour by the fathers too, each of them fighting for acceptance and bullying each other as they went, It felt more 1950s than 1980s to me-  but looking at the author's notes, I guess that its more like what she experienced or heard about. I felt overwhelmingly sorry for the girls caught up with all of this horrendous atmosphere, money being thrown around at a rate of knots, but noone allowed to have fun or have any freedom.

Not a particularly pleasant read for all the reasons outlined - and the more recent storyline with the return to France was a bit bewildering, it was there to give closure to the events in the chateau but didnt really work for me, I would have been happy to have the story entirely set in 1985.
3.5 rounded up
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I’ve not really heard anything about this one, and didn’t know much about it before going in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I was left feeling a bit disappointed - it’s an extremely slow burn and not much seemed to happen for a long time. I did enjoy the writing, beautifully descriptive, but didn’t warm much to the story or characters.
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After truly adoring Wynne's debut, Madam, I was beyond excited to have a chance to read this book.

This story is told in dual POV, one in 1985 and another 2010, as we slowly learn the story of what happened at a rural Chateau in France.

What this book does a really good job at, is create a very tangible sense of place, the reader can 100% picture exactly what this Chateau is like and the area that these events are taking place. We also haven't a really great sense of dread building as we know that something awful is going to happen but, beyond the author's note at the begin which gives us a small hint, we really have no idea of what unfolded that summer.

What I didn't enjoy so much was that the characters didn't feel too well defined. I felt like I had a really good sense of who the younger characters were and their insecurities but I had really difficulty with having a sense of who the older characters were and how they related to the younger characters. It somewhat took me out of the story that every time an older character was mentioned, I had to remind myself whose parent they were. This was particularly important given the themes throughout this story. 

I also did not enjoy that a lot of the important things that happened that summer were told through implications and through subtext, I am not for a moment suggesting that anyone should have to explicitly detail these scenes but I just felt as though I was missing crucial bits of information. I can somewhat appreciate though that this could be a stylistic choice as these are young characters who can not fully name what is actually happened.

I went into this book with an expectation that the 2010 POV would be a lot more prevalent but this is a story almost completely set in 1985 with just a few flashes forward sprinkled throughout. This is not something that I have any strong feelings about one way or another but it obviously meant that this book was not quite what I was expecting.

What I really, really enjoyed about this book was that I didn't see the twists and turns coming as well as there being one particularly satisfying moment which was somewhat like an easter egg for those who have read Madam.

I think that this is a pretty well-crafted novel and I can definitely admit that this might not be the right read for just before sleep as it will require so level of concentration and that could have impacted my overall enjoyment.

Wynne is an incredibly gifted storyteller who is able to produce incredible gothic thrillers which fill the reader with the most amazing sense of dread and I am certainly looking forward to seeing what she produces next.
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I found this difficult to follow. I don’t know if it was just me, but I just couldn’t get into the story at all. 

I loved the setting of the French estate. And the atmosphere and descriptions were written so well, it came alive for me in my head. 

It’s a very dark book, so if you’re sensitive to triggers like child abuse, I would give this one a miss.

The plot, for me, just didn’t work and unfortunately that’s shown in my rating. 

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher, for a chance to read and review this book.
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⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The Ruins”. is billed as a gothic, feminist coming-of-age tale. I am not sure I would have used those words to describe this story. Especially 'gothic". However the book was very atmospheric in it's setting (a chateau in France).  This was the type of book that creeps up on you. I wasn't sure I was going to throw in the towel or keep reading as I was finding the story difficult to get into, but the more I read the more invested I became. Nobody in this book is likable. The parents are atrocious. Even the three young girls (except maybe Annie) are unlikable. Yet there was something that drew me in and kept me reading. I needed to see how everything ended. I needed to see if these nasty people got what was coming to them. Overall i think this one deserves a solid thumbs up. 

Readers should also be aware that there is sexual abuse of minors.

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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This book won't be everyone's cup of tea (and that's not a criticism) I loved Phoebe's debut book Madam and loved the little nod to it in the end of this book.
It's well written. We are transported to the lush sun drenched France during the summer holidays. But it is far from idyllic and appearances can be deceiving. 
This is an uncomfortable book to read, with the worst parents/adults in the world. But I really liked the child characters.
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I really enjoyed - if enjoyed is the right word to use - this gripping novel about coming of age during a hot holiday in france and how one young woman's experience can have a ripple impact across friends and generations, in the most tragic of ways.

I found this a very powerful, moving read, that accurately depicts the way society treats and fetishises teenage girls - as if they are fully grown women, with no cognisance or recognition of the damage this does.
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I couldn’t put The Ruins down! Phoebe Wynne takes a hugely difficult subject and lays it out for examination, all whilst incongruously setting the story in a beautiful French Chateax in the middle of a hot summer. It makes for a brilliant story and one that will stay with me for a long time. 

• masterfully told using a dual timeline (1985 & 2010) to highlight the traumas of revisiting memories.
• at times an uncomfortable read for several reasons, but ultimately all as a result of the adult-child relationships. 
• hedonistic, unlikeable characters (mostly the adults), but also bringing in the children & how the adults in their life shape them. 
• set during a summer in France - therefore quite a few French phrases which I loved! (Easy enough to understand with basic French but also paraphrased in English afterwards usually)
• offers insight into the world of the rich & corrupt
• a little treat at the end in the form of a link to the author’s first novel, Madam!

In my opinion, The Ruins is an absolute must-read this summer!

Thank you @quercusbooks for sending me one of my most-anticipated books of 2022! It did not disappoint!
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At about 40% into the kindle version of this book it started to become very uncomfortable reading. I’d no idea where it was going to go and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be along for the ride. Now I’m finding it very difficult to review. It felt like reading a client’s journal work - I use writing therapy in my counselling practice when I’m working. There was something prurient about reading Ruby’s account, because it was so intimate and harrowing who could gain pleasure from reading it? Perhaps this is exactly the effect that Phoebe Wynne was hoping to evoke in the reader? In her first novel Madame we were introduced to some of the same themes: the super rich who are above the law and practice exploitation like a religion; young teenage girls being groomed to become Stepford wives to the millionaire class; a creepy gothic school where the girls are educated; the complicity of women in this continuous cycle. Yet with that book the creepy undertones were enough to suggest a supernatural element and the malice of some of the pupils was just enough to stop the reader feeling sorry for them. Once I’d finished I felt like I’d glimpsed behind life’s curtain, to see the decadent and corrupt workings of society. This felt different. The girls were younger for a start and the flashbacks to what should have been a blissful summer for three girls at a French château, became claustrophobic, exploitative and very dark indeed. 

Ruby and her family are spending the summer at their Château in France, as usual they are joined by her father’s two best friends Harley and Angus, with his daughter Imogen. However, added to their party this year are the Fullers and their daughter Annie, plus a woman called Georgina and her teenage daughter Ned (Edwina). Their normal equilibrium is disturbed immediately when one of the Fullers drives back to the château after a few drinks and hits a child in the village. With their combined power and influence, the men ‘handle’ the problem, but Mrs Fuller is not so easily silenced. Was she driving or is she reacting to her husband’s callous disregard for life? Whatever the reason she returns to the château screaming and crying. She has to be sedated and removed back to England as soon as possible. From there the holiday descends into decadence - heavy drinking becomes the norm, little jibes and full blown arguments ensue. 

Make no mistake these men are in charge and however they choose to behave, no one will rebuke them. The author creates a sense of powerlessness in the women of the party, from the hysterical Mrs Fuller to the passivity of Ruby’s mum. Where there is a patriarchy, women are policing the borders. Whether it’s because they believe in the system or are just trying to keep the younger women safe, it’s still a reaction to male dominance. Ruby’s mum is a walking list of instructions - keep up your flute practice, stay quiet at the table, don’t ask questions and above all don’t read books. Ruby’s love of Agatha Christie is frowned upon by the men and acted on by her mother. At first it is tolerated, then Harley cruelly ruins the end of Murder on the Orient Express making the point that reading fiction is not the best use of Ruby’s time. A seemingly kind birthday present of Death on the Nile becomes tainted, it’s intentions called into question by later events and eventually the book becomes part of a terrible traumatic memory. I don’t have any personal experience of what Ruby and Imogen go through that summer, but it’s still shocking to read. It was the neglect that bothered me most, the fact that none of these mothers, except perhaps Ned’s mother Georgina, are on their daughter’s side. Not only do they seem curiously detached from how their husbands behave - until it’s in front of other people - they don’t intervene with their daughters, spend time with them or speak up when they are treated badly. Their silence makes them complicit. 

In between the flashes of that summer we follow another trip to France, many years later, with Mrs Cosgrove. She’s come to visit the château that’s for sale along with the coast, the venue of childhood memories and events that still haunt her today. Some locals seem to recognise her but she denies being here before, claiming to be taking a holiday. Yet Mrs Cosgrove is jumpy, looking out for particular cars and appearing frightened when two men appear also claiming a link to the château. Does this place and it’s memories still have power over her? Or can she finally breathe, sure that what happened here is no longer important? However, she might not be the only one who has ghosts to lay here. I found the mood of these sections very different from the tension and seedy atmosphere of the past. Mrs Cosgrove is tense, but curiously I wasn’t even though her story takes us back into the truth of that summer. Maybe because I knew the worst had already happened. Considering the scandals that haunt the headlines these days, whether it’s Harvey Weinstein, Jimmy Saville, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, this book shows us just one reality in which the rich and entitled behave as if anything they want they can take. Maybe my reluctance to read about it says a lot about why these abusers were free to commit crimes against those less powerful than them for so long - no one wants to face the reality that people can and do act this way. The men in this novel are grotesque, we want to think of them as monsters in order to distance them from ourselves, but sadly they are not. The author wants us to see and not look away, otherwise we are complicit too.
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A gothic story, dark and disturbing at times. It's not a heartwarming or funny book, there's a lot of sufference and it talks about abuse and trying to move on and leave old wounds behind.
I loved the style of writing, hated the characters, and appreciated how the author was able to convey the sufference.
I found it a bit too intense at times but this my personal experience.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This was difficult to read at times. Disturbing as well. This is not a typical thriller. I also wouldn't really describe it as gothic. 

It feels very weird to say I enjoyed this as it's not  very enjoyable at all. It's heartbreaking and dark. 

I just wanted to scream and protect those girls. Not only from the neglectful parents in general. But from what the men put them through. 

The mothers. Especially Ruby's irritated me. The way she treated her daughter disgusted me. 

I didn't see the twists at the end coming. But truthfully I don't think I really had an idea where the book was going to end up. All I knew I wanted was for all the men to suffer for what they did. But also the mothers should face consequences since they also failed to protect the girls.
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Set against the backdrop of the French Riviera, #TheRuins explores one fateful summer full of family secrets, rising tempers, old disputes, darkness and the three young girls caught in the middle. Twenty five years later, one of the girls returns to unpack the trauma she experienced there and the true events of that summer.

This is a really difficult book to review. I could feel how deeply personal this book was to the author as I was reading it. I could feel her pain and trauma funnelled through the pages, and as such, assigning a rating or review to it feels like rating her trauma. THE RUINS feels like an exercise in catharsis for any woman or femme presenting person who has ever had their autonomy taken from them. Anyone who has ever been made to feel uncomfortable in order to please or benefit a man. That what it feels to me that Phoebe Wynne was trying to achieve with this book, and it achieved that goal really well.

I wouldn’t say it was as much of a page turner as other books I’ve enjoyed, however, there was a really nostalgic, dream-like quality to the writing. Wynne, again, manages to achieve a timeless, gothic feel (as she did with MADAM) despite her books being set in the 80s and 90s. The whole story felt reflected in the crumbling French chateau, as though you’re looking back on childhood memories, expecting to reminisce fondly on long summer days filled with innocent joy - but instead finding only the cracks and rot left behind. It’s a story about the corruption of the rich, the high society circles where no one is ever held to account for their actions - which all feels still incredibly relevant. 

I adore how Wynne weaves Greek Mythology into her stories as an allegory for her characters. This was one of my favourite elements of her debut, so I appreciated the way she once again wove these elements in but in a very different way. This is a dark, slow burn, sinister read, that focuses on corruption of innocence and the concept of consequence, all experienced through the lens of three girls too young to understand what is happening around them. It’s hard to read at times, but nuanced as the girl peel back the layers of secrets and find themselves forced to confront the truth of who the adults they should look up to and be cared for by truly are.

If you read and appreciated MY DARK VANESSA, this one could be for you, but please proceed with care and be aware that it contains strong themes of child neglect, violence and sexual assault.

Thank you to @quercusbooks for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Haunting, Horrifying…
The glamour and beauty of the French Riviera is set against the horrors of underlying darkness in this disturbing suspense with a truly dreadful and despicable cast of characters. Effectively narrated across a dual timeline, the life of the Château de Setes goes on amidst the British aristocracy within. Atmospheric and haunting, horrifying and disturbing all in equal measure. A difficult and appalling yet powerful read.
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The Ruins ⭐️⭐️⭐️

1985 - Ruby and her family are spending the summer at their family chateau on the glamorous French Rivera, but this year they are joined by some guests, some of which have arrived without invitation. 
As the heat intensives so does the tension between the adults, leaving Ruby and her two young friends to fend for themselves. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book with such despicable characters! The adults verged from indifferent to cruel, and were to self absorbed to know, or care what going on under their noses.

My rating isn’t reflective of the writing which was tense and atmospheric, however I found this an uncomfortable read so while it’s a well written book it’s not one that I’d be able to recommend to everyone.
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Phoebe Wynne should be on everyone’s must buy list. Madam was a treat to read, and The Ruins was just as good! The characters, the setting, the way Wynne seamlessly weaves narrative throughout is truly something special.. I fly through her writing and am always so enveloped in her stories. I’m already over the moon excited for her next book!
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The Ruins is a horrifying book that is just all too human. It is an incredibly tough read at times, but offers a haunting exploration of abuse, trauma and the way the past interrupts our present. 

Wynne has a habit of writing books that just sink under my skin. I read Madam last year and thought it traded on secrets and shadows, mysterious movements in the dark that keep you utterly enthralled. Well, The Ruins does the opposite, placing the abhorrent behaviour on blatant display in the scorching sun. Every little detail is shown, yet there is still a culture of secrets and shame surrounding this. It is a claustrophobic and terrifying space, intensified by our child protagonist. Through the innocence, the monstrosity is evident and easily inferred by Wynne. Some scenes are genuinely sickening and difficult to read, but remind us of similar events all too well. 

Wynne also offers up an intriguing mystery, leaving us trying to piece together the little details and establish what truly happened. The past and present narratives often collide in unexpected ways and I found myself attempting to pre-empt what would happen next, only to be thrown sideways once more by the next revelation. This is a superbly and tightly plotted little snake of a book. It hides its poison in plain sight, allowing Wynne’s strike to hit even deeper. Of course, it helps that the characterisation is vivid and hideous, with few redeeming features among the adult cast. In the present narrative, this is more complicated. Wynne mediates on legacy, trauma and family well in these sections. There are quite a few thought-provoking moral and ethical dilemmas on display, with plenty left to mull over. That ending was fantastic and I audibly gasped when I connected the final details together. 

The Ruins conjures up a scorching story that leaves everyone in its vicinity burnt. This is a heavy book, but one that exposes the underbelly of society and its perfect veneers.
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The Ruins by Phoebe Wynne is a dark and atmospheric novel that portrays an endless and troublesome summer that stretches in front of a rich family and their friends.

This is not an easy book to read. Most of the characters are extremely unlikable, it made me uneasy to read about them, but then again, I guess that that is part of the point. However, throughout the book you feel a lot of empathy towards the young daughters that have to endure their parents’ reckless and sometimes even disgusting behavior.

I enjoyed the dual timeline (1985 and 2010) because it gives the book a greater dose of mystery. You really have to wait till the last moment to fully understand what happened.

Though very atmospheric and well written, I feel like towards the middle of the book it became quite slow paced which made me lose interest for some time. However, the significant ending saved it all.

Even though this book is a work of fiction, the author mentions in the prologue that some of it was inspired by her personal experiences. I think that mentioning that fact is very brave and admirable.

Overall this is a moving and disturbing read. People should not be deceived by the summer cover and think that this is a light book. I would recommend checking the trigger warnings.
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