A heartbreaking story of friendship and betrayal – can we ever forgive the ones we love the most?
1996. Freya Seymour and Josephine Grey are invincible – beautiful and brilliant, the two best friends are on the cusp of Oxbridge, and the success they always dreamed they’d share. 2014. Freya gets in touch, looking for a conversation Josephine has run away from for eighteen long and tortured years.
Beginning with one ill-fated night, The Exclusives charts the agonising spiral of friendship gone wrong, the heartache and betrayal of letting down those closest to you and the poisonous possibilities of what we wouldn’t do when everything we prize is placed under threat. And in the end, as she realises she cannot run for ever, Josephine must answer one question: is it Freya she cannot face, or is it her own darkest secret?
Read if you loved: Rosamund Lupton
Rebecca Thornton Biography
Rebecca Thornton is a journalist and runs an online advertising business.
Her work has been published in Prospect Magazine, Daily Mail, The Jewish News and The Sunday People.
She was Acting Editor of an arts and culture magazine based in Jordan, and she’s reported from Kosovo, London, and the Middle East.
Rebecca is an alumna of the Faber Academy writing-a-novel course, where she was tutored by Esther Freud and Tim Lott.
Rebecca Thornton on the Inspiration Behind The Exclusives
I’d always wanted to write a novel set in a boarding school.
Originally, though, The Exclusives was a romantic comedy inspired by the film with Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed.
At the time, I was enrolled on a six-month creative writing course at the Faber Academy and about thirty-thousand words in to my first draft. One of my tutors, Tim Lott, said the book wasn’t working. That I needed to be more honest about my writing. “Stop trying so hard,” he said. “Just tell the story.”
I couldn’t work out what he meant by this, until I realised I was using comedy to hide behind what I really wanted to say. Which is this: Although the novel is set in a boarding school, it’s less about that, and more about the characters within it. It’s about how Freya and Josephine the two main girls in the story, react to their space after a night out goes horrendously wrong. It’s about their friendship within the confines of those four walls and what happens when it crumbles.
In my experience, most girls at boarding schools are fragile. Their senses of selves aren’t yet fully formed. The boarding routine gives false construct to their lives. There’s total isolation from the rest of the world, yet conversely, no alone time.
It was with this in mind that the inspiration started flowing, and the characters of my book found their pace: Psychologically precarious, yet ambitious. Fragile yet stubborn. It was a matter of days after I gave up the original idea for the book, that I woke up with Josephine’s voice in my head. The novel went from being a light-hearted read to a psychologically dark thriller. Once I had found honesty and I hope, authenticity, with Josephine and Freya, the inspiration seeped into the plot. Greenwood Hall, the boarding school in The Exclusives, provided me with the perfect framework and inspiration for the novel. But only when I was honest about the characters inside.