In The Guineveres, Sarah Domet Tackles Youth And Abandonment

Photograph by LuAnne DeMeo

Four girls, all named Guinevere, are deserted by their parents at a convent. Bound by their name, they form their own kind of family. There are drunk priests and rigid nuns, comatose soldiers and a backdrop of war. But The Guineveres (Flatiron Books) is about finding an identity in what author Sarah Domet calls an “almost claustrophobic” context, how our traumas form us, and what home means.

While getting her Ph.D. in creative writing at UC, a friend gave Domet (who grew up in Anderson Township) a copy of Lives of the Saints. She was struck by major differences in the stories: “The female saints were left to suffer in their bodies, while the male saints were going out into the world, fighting battles and building abbeys,” she says. She turns this on its head in interstitial chapters that profile female saints and reveal the Guineveres’ pasts. “This book is about the stories we hear, the narratives we create for ourselves,” Domet says. “I wanted the girls to be able to tell—and own—their stories.” The result: compelling, nuanced characters.

Domet now lives in Savannah, Georgia. But, she says, “Cincinnati and my upbringing there played a vital role in the creation of this novel.” Speaking of: The girls’ location is not revealed, but there is a small Fountain Square reference. Seek and ye shall find, indeed.

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