|Tara Isabella Burton||
When shy, sensitive Laura Stearns arrives at St. Dunstan's Academy in Maine, she dreams that life there will echo her favorite novel, All Before Them, the sole surviving piece of writing by Byronic "prep school prophet" (and St. Dunstan's alum) Sebastian Webster, who died at 19, fighting in the Spanish Civil War.
She soon finds the intensity she is looking for among the insular, Webster-worshipping members of the school's cultic chapel choir: presided over by the charismatic, neurotic, overachiever Virginia Strauss, who is as fanatical about her newfound Christian faith as she is about the miles she runs every morning before dawn. Virginia inducts the besotted Laura into a world of transcendent music and arcane ritual, illicit cliff-diving and midnight crypt visits: a world that, like Webster's novels, finally seems to Laura to be full of meaning.
But when a new, reformist school chaplain challenges Virginia's hold on the "family" she has created, and Virginia's efforts to hold onto her power become increasingly destructive, Laura must decide how far she will let her devotion to Virginia go. The World Cannot Give is a meditation on the power, and danger, of wanting more than the world can give.
Out March 2022 from Simon and Schuster
Early Praise for The World Cannot Give:
"I devoured this book in a single rapturous day, and finished it with the eerie satisfied sense that it had been written specifically for me, or someone like me. I have spent my life as a reader hunting for those books that hit every mark: gorgeous sentences, enthralling plot design, characters that I am wedded to or haunted by long after the book ends, a sense of the erotic that is as queer as it is and insistent and hypnotic, and a keyhole view of some cultish sect of social life that I don't want to join, but to which I want a front row seat. I simply cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It is, I think, a perfect book."
--Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
"The World Cannot Give is the perfect book for anyone who loves A Separate Peace, anyone who hates A Separate Peace and anyone who has never read A Separate Peace. It is at once wonderfully old-fashioned yet thrillingly modern, rich in setting and character, specific and universal. In short: I loved it."
--Laura Lippmann, New York Times-bestselling author
"I love this book. Tara Isabella Burton writes beautifully about beauty, and about transcendence and longing and desire. Her characters are so vibrantly alive, so searching, so raw, so foolish and so profound. Wonderful from start to finish."
--Phil Klay, author of Missionaries
"Tara Isabella Burton is both one of our sharpest writers of witty, propulsive fiction and one of our most profound thinkers on the 21st Century's search for religious meaning. With The World Cannot Give, she has united her talents and written a fun, serious, surprising, necessary novel about the twin adolescent thirsts for sexual experimentation and "World-Historical" importance, and the way those thirsts shape and thwart each other. Calling to mind the work of writers such as Graham Greene, Muriel Spark, and Donna Tartt, The World Cannot Give gives and gives and gives."
--David Burr Gerrard, author of The Epiphany Machine