When Olivia turns sixteen she is sent to a Parisian finishing school to broaden her education. Soon after her arrival, she finds herself falling under the spell of her beautiful and charismatic teacher. But Madamoiselle Julie's life is not as straightforward as Olivia imagines and the school year is destined to end abruptly in tragedy.
Dorothy Strachey (1865-1960) was the sister of the novelist Lytton Strachey and a prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group. She was Andre Gide's main English translator. Olivia, originally published under a pseudonym, is her only novel.
"Perfectly captures the breathless excitement of adolescent passion" Sarah Waters "A remarkable novel which is unique in its presentation of the female mind and emotions in teachers and pupils at a girls' school. It has a strange combination of strength and delicacy" The Times "It is the story of an overheated emotional glasshouse, of an awakening and febrile yearnings, of the anguished decoding of tiny signals of intention from the beloved, of fervid alliances and bitter jealousies between two factions of girls, and the falling out of the two teachers they adore, with a shattering conclusion" Guardian "The chapter from Dorothy Strachey's Olivia, which deals with the well-worn topic of a schoolgirl's love for her teacher, seems fresh and beautifully done" -- Julie Burchill Sunday Times "A narrative of sheer emotion... Olivia achieves the purity of classic tragedy" New York Times Book Review