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The Great Godden

Written by Meg Rosoff

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The Great Godden Review

Featured Books for Young Adults

Summer love, lust and loyalties tangle in this piercingly powerful coming-of-age story

Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2021

With characteristic vision and grace Meg Rosoff has done it again in this exquisite novel that merits a place alongside I Capture the CastleBonjour Tristesse and The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) for its coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence excellence. Though contemporary, it feels timeless and elementally affecting, much like the Great Godden’s impact on the family whose story it tells.


With an idyllic seaside summer stretching ahead, the tingling anticipation of The Great Godden’s unnamed teenage narrator is deliciously palpable: “This year is going to be the best ever: the best weather, the best food, the best fun. The actors assembled, the summer begins.” But there are still two more actors to take to the stage - enter the Godden brothers in a shiny black car. The narrator’s older sister Mattie is immediately smitten by magnetic, handsome, self-assured Kit: “She was desperate to lose her virginity, and what sort of person would say no to Mattie? Surely not some movie star’s kid, fresh off the plane?” Though Mattie is certainly attractive, it’s obvious that charmer Kit has the upper hand of any situation, but might he also be a trouble-maker, as his curt, less-of-a-looker brother warns? 


Such wonderings underpin some of this novel’s essence. With the stage fully set and summer speeding towards the climax of a wedding, it poses fundamental questions about motivation, and the nature of agency, of lust, of the desire to be seen for who you are. Quivering with unease, passion and paranoia, it also reveals how past experiences engrave themselves upon us, creating fault-lines that may crack and cause future ructions.


Sophisticated, seductive and smoothly readable, this is a summer story par excellence, and a coming-of-age tale for all times.


Find out more about the YA Book Prize including all the shortlisted titles.



Joanne Owen

The Great Godden Synopsis

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer - the summer when everything changes.

In a holiday house by the sea, in a big, messy family, one teenager watches as brothers and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding.

Enter the Goddens - irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there's a serpent in this paradise - and the consequences will be devastating.

From bestselling, award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale - a summer book that's as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and I Capture the Castle but as sharp and fresh as Normal People.

The Great Godden Press Reviews

This smart and humorous novel is, from the first sentence, rapture to read. Each paragraph is crafted with a joke, insight or observation that makes you eager for more - Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

It wouldn't be summer without a sun-drenched coming-of-age story, so beautifully realised in Meg Rosoff's seductive and elegant The Great Godden. ... The heady nostalgia and sweet ache of first love and lost innocence recall classics such as Bonjour Tristesse - Observer, YA Book of the Month

Rosoff brilliantly captures the loss of innocence on the cusp of adulthood in a dreamy, seductive coming-of-age story that echoes classics like I Capture the Castle - The Bookseller, Editor's Choice

A brilliant short book for someone looking for a thoughtful, impactful summer read... It sounds like it's going to be the quintessential holiday romance but it's so much more than that - Pandora Sykes, The High Low Podcast

... far too good to be monopolised by the teenage market. My advice: buy it for the young person in your life and then sneak off with it yourself - The Times

A wonderful, captivating writer - Daily Telegraph

Meg Rosoff has the gift of being able to talk to the reader with a directness that goes like an arrow to the heart - The Times

No one writes the way Rosoff does - as if she's thrown away the rules. I love her fizzy honesty, her pluck, her way of untangling emotion through words - Daily Telegraph

It is only occasionally that a writer comes along with a voice so stridently pure and direct and funny that you simply can't question it - you tumble willingly into its thrall -- Julie Myerson - Guardian

A wonderfully original voice - New Statesman

A magical and utterly faultless voice - Mark Haddon

Searingly well written, her books read like Samuel Beckett on Ecstasy - The Times

Like Ephron, Rosoff has a lightness of touch, and is also a clever comic writer: her dialogue is sharp, her characters keenly observed and ruthlessly well realised - The Sunday Times

The perfect read for an afternoon by the sea - NetGalley user

An irresistible summer read - NetGalley reviewer

I have never connected with a book so quickly. The atmosphere and the heady setting of summer and nostalgic longing was enticing from the first page... my heart was swept away with this book - NetGalley reviewer

I genuinely couldn't put it down - NetGalley reviewer

A thoroughly captivating read that reels you in and won't let you go - NetGalley Reviewer

Sophisticated, seductive and smoothly readable, this is a summer story par excellence, and a coming-of-age tale for all times - LoveReading4Kids

A wonderful, escapist coming of age novel - Suffolk Magazine

A classic summer, coming-of-age story, wonderfully done... Its hazy nostalgia tempered by a winning self-awareness, The Great Godden is a joyful, generous read - Novel of the Week, Sunday Telegraph

A touching coming-of-age novel that is perfect for summertime - Sunday Express S Magazine

A dreamy, atmospheric tale about love, sibling rivalry and family secrets - Irish Independent

As a coming of age story, it hits all the right notes when tackling frustrations, loneliness and sexuality during a turbulent time - Magic Radio Book Club

This brilliant, witty, very modern novel is the perfect summer coming of-age read... A perfectly-pitched look at adolescent loss of innocence, it balances dark manipulation with sharp humour - Daily Mail

Meg Rosoff returns with another astute and alluring YA tale, filled with intrigue, and the agony and humiliation of love. [...] The Great Godden is totally absorbing, be it in describing sibling hostility, or the effort required to conceal your feelings. Rosoff perfectly captures the endlessness of summer, and the prickling uneasiness of desire when it's tangled up in hope - Press Association

A study of narcissism, eternal adolescence and those indelible first loves -- 20 children's books for summer - The Times

Best known for the dreamy teenage cousin-romance How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff is a rare writer of young adult fiction who is also loved by grown-ups. The Great Godden is just as marvellous - a classic, summery, coming-of-age story about the confusion of adolescent lust - Daily Telegraph

A gift for apparently effortless prose usually betokens an author working long hours perfecting their craft. Meg Rosoff, whose latest novel further cements her place as a truly outstanding popular writer, is one such perfectionist - Books For Keeps

Full of lies, lust, manipulation and the agony of being young - Daily Mail

Rosoff's dazzling, timeless novel is a delight - Independent

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781526618535
Publication date: 10/06/2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781526618511
Publication date: 09/07/2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781526618535
Publication date: 10th June 2021
Author: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Suitable for: YA readers
Collections: Summer Reading 2021,

About Meg Rosoff

Meg Rosoff worked in publishing, journalism, politics and advertising before writing How I Live Now. Her books have won or been shortlisted for 18 international book prizes, including the Carnegie Medal and the Orange First Novel Prize, and been translated into over 20 languages. In 2016, Meg was the recipient of the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s literature award. She lives in London with her family and two dogs. Click here to read a Q&A with the author's Good Dog McTavish. Click here to read more about Meg Rosoff.

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