The Chinese Garden Book
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A "very intelligent, sensitive, and compelling" novel of adolescent rebellion and sexual awakening at a girls' boarding school (Anthony Burgess).
Set in a repressive British girls' boarding school in the late 1920s--where not only sexuality but femininity is squashed--Rosemary Manning's "wonderful" 1962 novel is the coming-of-age story of sixteen-year-old Rachel, a sensitive, bright, and innocent student (The Guardian). Rachel finds refuge from the Spartan conditions, strict regime, fierce discipline, and formidable headmistress at Bampfield in a secret garden. She also finds friendship there, with a rebellious girl named Margaret.
As Margaret has her mind expanded by a scandalous tome entitled The Well of Loneliness, she engages in a bold, forbidden act--the ultimate transgression at Bampfield--and Rachel is drawn into the turmoil. Confronted with the persecution of her friend and troubled by a growing awareness of her own sensuality, Rachel faces an impossible choice that drives her to desperate measures.
Selected as one of the Top 10 Lesbian Books by the Guardian, "Rosemary Manning's unjustly forgotten novel is a deft depiction of innocence and the forces of hypocrisy, paranoia, and self-hatred that betray innocence" (Lillian Faderman, author of Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers).