A suspenseful, contemporary Gothic coming-of-age tale with shades of Patricia Highsmith and Atonement, pitched against the sun-soaked backdrop of the French Riviera.
The most dazzling summer casts the darkest shadows.
Welcome to the Chateau des Sètes, a jewel of the Cote d’Azur, where long summer days bring ease, glamour, and decadence to the holidaymakers who can afford it.
Ruby Ashby adores her parents’ house in France, but this August, everything feels different. Unexpected guests have descended upon the chateau––friends of her parents, and their daughters—and they are keen to enjoy the hot, extravagant summer holiday to its fullest potential. Far from England, safe in their wealth and privilege, the adults revel in bad behavior without consequence, while the girls are treated as playthings or abandoned to their own devices. But despite languid days spent poolside and long nights spent drinking, a simmering tension is growing between the families, and the sanctuary that Ruby cherishes soon starts to feel like a gilded cage.
Over two decades later the chateau is for sale, its days of splendor and luxury long gone, leaving behind a terrible history and an ugly legacy. A young widow has returned to France, wanting to purchase the chateau, despite her shocking memories of what transpired that fateful summer. But there is another person who is equally haunted by the chateau, and who also seeks to reclaim it. Who will set the chateau free––and who will become yet another of its victims?
With riveting psychological complexity, The Ruins captures the tangled legacy of abuse, the glittering allure of the Mediterranean––and the dark shadows that wait beneath the surface of both.
About the Author
PHOEBE WYNNE is the author of Madam and The Ruins. She worked in education for nearly a decade and taught Classics in the UK and English Language and Literature in Paris. She is British and French, and currently splits her time between France and England.
Praise for The Ruins:
"Beautifully written and haunting."
"I was completely transported by The Ruins. Phoebe Wynne has evocatively rendered a beautiful, doomed French chateau while creating immersive, almost dream-like atmospherics. I loved this novel."
––Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium
"Rippling with suspense and gripping from the outset, The Ruins is a powerful feminist novel written with real panache."
––Victoria Selman, author of Truly Darkly Deeply
"The Ruins is a raw, unsettling coming-of-age story not for the faint-hearted. Harrowing and compelling, this is a story burning with rage and the heat of the male gaze."
––Vikki Patis, bestselling author of In The Dark
"Tense and atmospheric, The Ruins investigates trauma and memory with a knowing, meticulous hand. The Chateau des Sètes—in all its crumbling, sinister glory—will imprint on your psyche as if you, too, spent a fateful summer there years ago…but it’s the young women who call it home that leave the most lasting impression. This is a book that understands the inherent dangers of girlhood, and one that believes wholeheartedly in the innate resilience, bravery, and compassion of teenage girls themselves."
––Emily Layden, author of All Girls
"The French Riviera has never been more captivating or unsettling. A story rich with family tensions and a chateau that serves as a gilded cage. The Ruins is both beautifully written and haunting at its core. Another stunning novel from Phoebe Wynne."
––Shea Ernshaw, the New York Times bestselling author of A History of Wild Places and The Wicked Deep
Praise for Madam:
"Haunting, feminist, deliciously dark." ––Entertainment Weekly
"Suspenseful...a gothic tale powered by bold heroines who refuse to submit." ––Booklist
"A deliciously gothic take on patriarchy, class and the purpose of education...a haunting, atmospheric novel about agency, power and the things people do to keep both." ––Shelf Awareness
"Wynne’s glorious gothic carries the same feminist power and inspiring characters as Circe." ––Women.com
“Good fun if you like your classics with a twist of creepy.” ––The Seattle Times