A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

eBook - 2014
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An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.

Set at a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2014
ISBN: 9781476777030
1476777039
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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t
tigerlily_13
Jun 05, 2018

I had to read this "classic" in high school...greatly disliked it. One of those "classics" I never could understand why it was considered as one.

Sug_Smith Jun 04, 2018

A Separate Peace is a novel that ensnares the readers heart for the characters and spends the rest of the novel killing you softly because of that attachment. Placing beloved characters in the perilous historical context of WW2 has the reader clinging to the edge of their seats and broadening their horizons of what it was to be on the brink of draft eligibility.

p
pamina1
May 30, 2018

Once in a blue moon, a novel comes along that leaves you feeling that the author began with something like this impulse: Here is the experience that has most shaken and shaped me, and I am going to make a book of it. Such an undertaking requires considerable caution, as well as, probably, a necessary measure of throwing caution to the winds. In his 1959 A Separate Peace, the late John Knowles took on the challenge and proved himself fully equal to it. I don’t know how I managed to miss it until now, but I’m grateful finally to have aded this classic American coming-of-age novel to my experience.

It’s impossible to quote adequately from such a rich total fabric, but here’s a taste, one of the descriptions of Devon, the fictional New England prep school that is the setting for the novel:’

“The school had been largely rebuilt with a massive bequest from an oil family some years before in a peculiar style of Puritan grandeur, as though Versailles had been modified for the needs of a Sunday school. This opulent sobriety betrayed the divided nature of the school, just as in a different way the two rivers that it straddled did. From the outside the buildings were reticent, severe straight lines of red brick or white clapboard, with shutters standing sentinel beside each window, and a few unassuming white cupolas placed here and there on the roofs because they were expected and not pretty, like Pilgrim bonnets.

“But one you passed through the Colonial doorways, with only an occasional fan window or low relief pillar to suggest that a certain muted adornment was permissible, you entered an extravaganza of Pompadour splendor …”

My only previous experience with Knowles was his sturdy introduction to G. B. Edwards’ posthumously published masterpiece The Book of Ebenezer LePage (pronounced Le as in French and Page as in a book, as the irresistibly quirky narrator early on informs us), one of the select few novels of the 20th Century I most enthusiastically recommend.

So take this as a recommendation of two novels, one widely read and celebrated and the other unjustly neglected.

t
TwiceSaved
Feb 03, 2017

Wow what an incredible coming of age story! Phineas, an incredibly vibrant character in the book, was a great inspiration in my life. From the story Knowles paints, he has a vibrant, effervescent spirit to him which automatically draws the reader to him. However, I do not think his death, was a malicious act by Gene.

I really do feel for Gene throughout this story. Phineas was always pushing him, egging him on and it seemed Gene was bothered by that.

Believe me, I know what it means to have friends like that. People who dare you into semi-dangerous situations just to satisfy their own desires. And I still don't know if Phineas was like that, or whether he genuinely cared for Gene and just wanted him to break out of his shell.

But in the end, Gene finally turned the situation back on Phineas. He made Phineas adapt to his musings, and in the end, eventually killed him. That last conversation between Phineas and Gene is one of the more poignant conversations in literature I believe.

Was Gene trying to apologize, was Phineas telling him he was already forgiven? Did the two realize their ultimate mistake and come to terms with themselves. John Knowles never draws any conclusions.

Was Gene a murderer returning to the scene of a crime? Or was he just a grown man trying to make sense of one the most perplexing relationships he has had with one the more perplexing people he has ever known?

Again, I have been in Gene's situation. Being dared or belittled into doing something I did not want to. And there are times I wish I had the guts to do what Gene did, and turn the tables on my antagonistic frenemy. I did not, Gene did. Who is right?

Some people view what Gene did as murder, or at least manslaughter. I view Gene's actions as justified. Just doing to him what he did, and was trying to do to me.

j
JESSICA PILON
Jan 12, 2016

This book was awful. It was confusing, at times disturbing, and weird. I absolutely hated it. I am 14 and I wouldn't recommend this for anyone. The only reason I was able to finish was because I had to do it for school.

m
MADKC4Ever
May 12, 2014

First off, let me just say that I was not forced to read this book in school. The other English classes were, but my teacher told us she hated it, and refused to do it. Well, as I got to hear more and more about it, and after hearing various opinions from other people, I decided to buy it at the used book store and have my own opinion. And I honestly don't know what to think about this book. Since I didn't have the help of an English teacher, probably 99% of the metaphors flew right over my head, but I still thought it was a nice story. I knew the ending before I even opened it, but I still read it all the way through, because I was thought it was interesting enough. It's also a war story, without it being a "way story," you know what I mean? Its set back in World War Two, and the school the charecters attend is focused on getting boys prepared for the draft, but its not like a war story, where it's all happening on the battlefield. I can't stand the main charecter, Gene, even by the end of the book, even though you're supposed to feel remorse for him. I can see why some people hate it, and completely see why my sophomore English teacher refused to teach it. It's a very aquired taste, and not a lot of people 14-17 are going to want to pick it up. I happened to enjoy it, but it would be better to know what you're getting into before you tackle the book.

n
NatalieAlisa
Sep 18, 2013

Infinitely rereadable!

b
britprincess1
Apr 26, 2013

A very eloquently told story, in near entirety a flashback, of a boy whose jealousy got the better of him. In the world of frenemies that exists, this tale resonates, but speaks of the travesties of war, real and imagined, internationally waged and personally crafted, in such a way that is impactful. Adolescent identity is made in these moments, these choices, and, as one who cares very little for war stories and war films and the like, I was pleasantly surprised by this tale set during WWII. Perhaps it was because of the lack of actual historical battles, despite being amidst the culture of it, that I enjoyed this book, as it was wholly set within the context of a high school, something nearly everyone has experienced. The characters seem real, the dialogue natural. I loved the flow of it all, with all its twists and turns, and I completely understand why it is considered a classic. I highly recommend A SEPARATE PEACE.

b
BantamBrain
Jan 23, 2013

This book still wows me. It is a subtle story. No quick violence or fast humor, but a slow tense march to a devestating finale.

p
pegoraro
Nov 11, 2012

@splashcrash I agree

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VV12
Aug 30, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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MADKC4Ever
May 12, 2014

MADKC4Ever thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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ukiuq
Feb 05, 2012

ukiuq thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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