Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! This week for my review, I’m stepping into a world of privilege and wondering if I would ever go as far to achieve a dreamlike life as some people would?
So without further ado, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances was published April 2017, by Pan Books. This is a stand-alone adult psychological thriller, that tackles the themes of parenting, the lies we tell, and knowing when to let go of our dreams.
Laura has led a privileged life – she has a beautiful Kensington home, a job in television, and a son whom she adores. One day, Daniel announces he is seeing a trainee estate agent, Cherry, and Laura’s life begins to take a downward turn… Cherry has not been as privileged – she has grown up with clothes from charity shops, ashamed of her mother who works in a supermarket, and has been unlucky in love. And then she meets Daniel, who could propel her into high society, a dream and a hope of hers. She just needs to sever the ties between mother and son. And then a fatal accident occurs, a terrible lie is told, and Laura and Cherry’s lives become chaotic.
Whilst this is marketed as a psychological thriller, I believe a psychological drama would be better suited – I could see this playing out as a TV show over Sunday nights. I didn’t belong in Laura’s world, with her indoor basement swimming pool, taking taxis everywhere, being able to shop and eat in high class places. I’m definitely more of Cherry’s level – I come from a more normal life, although I can agree that aiming higher can’t hurt you. Michelle Frances creates vivid characters that you recognise instantly, with stereotypes – Cherry is painted to be a gold digger or a bunny boiler, whereas Laura is without a doubt, a helicopter parent. The writing style was easy to follow, and there were clear distinct differences in the perspectives of the characters – Laura was quite clipped and always trying to please, whereas Cherry was down to earth and you could see her manipulations play out. Laura is very overprotective and it does appear that although she has wealth and beauty, things aren’t what they seem. Her husband is having an affair, she has seen a child die already, and is almost unwilling to let her son grow up and be his own person. When her terrifying lie comes out, it is clear that she would do anything for her son, but I think the lie was perhaps a bit far fetched. Cherry on the other hand, has a poor relationship with her mother, and isn’t afraid to weave her web – she wants to take Laura’s place, but as a loving girlfriend. On her big (fateful) date with Daniel, she is already scheming on how to be his wife. She is an intelligent woman, that much is clear, but she is driven only by ambition, and when she sees through the lie finally (if she was so smart, she should have seen through it earlier), her determination is only that much clearer. It was almost unsettling to read the lengths that Cherry would go to, to usurp Laura – the pranks could cause mental health issues, which I think is what she was initially hoping for – a complete and utter breakdown, although this trope is somewhat tired. The tension gradually builds, but perhaps becomes a little transparent – maybe because Cherry is so determined. It’s almost like we can see a mind-map of what what she is planning to do before she has done it, even in the beginning stages. The final chapters are suspenseful – what is Cherry capable of? Can Laura defend herself? Will Daniel (who is easy to manipulate and has a rosy outlook, perhaps blinded by his mothers love) see through the deception? I thought the epilogue did let this down – it was too cheerful after everything that has happened. I understand that it was trying to give the characters closure in a standalone novel, but I imagine that even then, the characters would benefit from some form of counselling. I did enjoy this book though – I was drawn into a world unlike anything I’d ever stepped into. Whilst I don’t have children myself, I do know that I would do anything for my family. However, the lengths that Laura goes to? Maybe not. Although I can think of another fictional woman who would do anything for her family…
This is the debut novel of Michelle Frances, and the publisher has also bought two more books – one for release this year. I wonder what the future holds!
You can purchase The Girlfriend from most bookstores, including online, in both Kindle or paperback editions.
In the novel, Daniel buys Cherry several gifts, so in that spirit, here are three of my favourite gifts I have ever received:
A personalised Hogwarts acceptance letter from my boyfriend for my birthday. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so receiving this was amazing!
A Pandora charm bracelet for my 21st birthday from my parents – I love my mum’s old charm bracelet and had wished for one of my own for so long!
So that completes my review of The Girlfriend. I hope that you enjoyed this review, and I’m sure I’ll be back with a new one soon!