2012 saw the introduction of Sophie Coulombeau, a genuine talent for the future. Winner of the Next Great Novelist award by a country mile, her novel Rites manages that rare dual feat of being an addictive page-turner and a stylish stimulant for the imagination. Founded on a theme of confession, the book deals with coming of age, sexual politics and how a tight group of friends can look back on one central childhood event with many different viewpoints. This is an entertaining and engaging book and Sophie is clearly one to look out for.
‘When I was fourteen I did something terrible. At least, that’s what some people tell me.’
Four teenagers make a pact to lose their virginity away from the watchful eyes of parents and priest. Fifteen years later, they reflect on the past and unravel how it all went so horribly wrong.
‘Terrific. A story that’s intriguing, puzzling and entirely gripping.’ – Philip Pullman
‘A compelling and provocative multi-stranded narrative with a high-concept hook, this is a story told in many voices which is always risky but Coulombeau pulls it off beautifully. In a further challenge to the reader, the novel also comes down on the side of there being no such thing as objective truth when it comes to different people’s memories of the same experience. Coulombeau’s unflinchingly clear-headed analysis of the human psyche is deeply refreshing.’ – Sunday Express
‘The reader is taken convincingly in one direction then the other – implying that ultimately, the only truth we ever know is what we feel to be true, even if that is a product of self-delusion. [Coulombeau] Makes fully plausible the shifts in affection, allegiance, even desire, of her young characters, and shows how these shifts can be both terrifyingly quick and deeply felt.’ – The Independent on Sunday
‘Assured and disquieting debut… a carefully orchestrated, dizzying narrative.’ – Daily Mail
‘A stunning debut. Incredibly well crafted… zips along at a breakneck pace, insisting you return to the start once you’ve finished.’ – Yorkshire Post
‘Smart and sassy and so well-written, this novel leads you into a moral maze and lets you find your own way out. A very clever book that turns you into more than a reader – you become judge and jury.’ – Kathleen MacMahon
‘This fresh, eminently readable novel uses multiple viewpoints to reveal a story told ten years on of a teenage pact which went horribly wrong. Sophie Coulombeau’s web of lies and self-deception sees characters expose themselves through their own words and questions the existence of objective truth in the murky ambiguity of moral choices.’ – Sally Hughes, We Love This Book (Tip for Man Booker Longlist)
‘There is a a clear-sighted lack of sentimentality about the way Sophie allows her characters to expose themselves through their own words. It is utterly un-put-downable. Don’t even pick it up if you have to get up early for work the next morning.’ – The Press
‘Breathtaking originality and verve. Sophie Coulombeau is the genuine article.’ – Ian Kirkpatrick
‘We are the wiser as citizens to have been educated by the writer… Immensely readable and lucid. ’ – Dig
‘Honest… human… despairing… it broke my heart a little bit. A damn fine book.’ – Mark Allen, Blogomatic 3000!
‘Coulombeau’s great strength in Rites is in how she controls the flow of information, and plays with and against readers’ expectations. So there’s a wonderful sense of uncertainty – the feeling that, even when we think we know everything, perhaps we don’t after all. Add to this some insightful observations – on growing up, falling in love, and more besides – and you have a fine debut novel.’ – Follow the Thread
‘There’s a wonderful sense of uncertainty – the feeling that, even when we think we know everything, perhaps we don’t after all. Add to this some insightful observations – on growing up, falling in love, and more besides – and you have a fine debut novel.’ – David Hebblethwaite
‘Original and gripping, this novel stands out from the crowd. I’m sure Sophie Coulombeau is destined to become a literary star of the future.’ – Sophie Hannah
‘Rites is a powerful read that has you questioning the wisdom of any adult and the innocence of any child. The story Coulombeau tells is an everyman tale of desire, friendship and betrayal. Behind it is a mind that takes nothing at face value: not love, not desire and not the violence that we are capable of doing to one another.’ – Fiona Shaw