Grievous: H.S. Cross and Jessie Chaffee (WILLIAMSBURG)

St. Stephen’s Academy, Yorkshire, 1931. A society unto itself, populated by boys reveling in life’s first big mistakes and men still learning how to live with the consequences of their own. Fourteen-year-old Gray Riding—bookish and yearning for approval—has his life altered by the arrival at the Academy of Cordelia Líoht, the vivacious goddaughter of his Housemaster, John Grieves, nicknamed Grievous. Grievous, too, is at a crossroads, forced to grapple with history both collective and personal as he manages difficult students, a precocious goddaughter, and the infinitely more difficult task of rescuing Cordelia's mother, the woman he secretly loves, from poor health and worse decisions. Told from a variety of viewpoints, Grievous takes us deep inside the crucible of St. Stephen’s while retaining a clear-eyed, contemporary sensibility, drawing out the secrets hidden beneath the school’s strict, unsparing surface. The Academy’s codes may seem antiquated, but even when traveling beyond its walls—from the streets of London and Paris, to the marshes of Kent and the spas of Europe—they can't help but feel that the school’s society and its trials are more vital than any others they will come to know. In brisk, witty, glittering prose, reminiscent of the novels of Henry Green, Ivy Compton-Burnett, or Vladimir Nabokov, Cross explores “a school as nuanced and secretive as J. K. Rowling’s Hogwarts” (The Rumpus) in this return to the world of her acclaimed coming-of-age novel, Wilberforce.

H. S. Cross was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She was educated at Harvard College and has taught at Friends Seminary, among other schools. She lives in New York.

Jessie Chaffee’s debut novel, Florence in Ecstasy (Unnamed Press, 2017), was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2017 and is forthcoming in translation in Italy, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Poland, Russia, and Romania. She was awarded a Fulbright grant to Italy to complete the novel and was the writer-in-residence at Florence University of the Arts. Her writing has appeared in Literary Hub, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Slice, and Global City Review, among others. She lives in New York City, where she is an editor at Words Without Borders. Find her at

Event date: 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

76 North 4th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Grievous: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374279950
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 9th, 2019