Growing up in a sleepy town with a beautiful mother and a father who seems to adore her, it’s difficult to understand why Frances is the way she is. Strange, manipulating, and at times cruel, she is a mystery to Marienne, her bewildered mother.
But, on closer inspection, hiding beyond the white picket fence and cherry-blossom tree that umbrellas their cozy life, something dark lies heavy on both Frances and her father. Following a disastrous 16th birthday party and a grandmother found dead in the bathtub, Frances is sent away to boarding school.
The Academy is a place rife with teenage rivalry, secret rendezvous, and budding friendships. And it’s here — alone for the first time — that Frances is forced to confront the true nature of her life. Intertwined with Frances’ narrative is that of her father James. Between them we discover a story of a young girl entering adulthood under the smoky weight of a terrible secret, of a life stolen and rediscovered, and, above all, of a tainted love affair and the fluid, easily traversed boundary between perversity and normality.