Pages: 454 Price: £8.00 Published: 2017 by Pan Books
“Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a 23-year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life. Cherry comes into the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems. When tragedy strikes, one of them tells an unforgivable lie – probably the worst lie anyone could tell. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.”
I liked this book but I couldn’t help but have some issues with it.
For starters, it takes about halfway through the book until the story picks up, and for a book with 454 pages that’s a lot of waiting to do. To date I’ve never not finished a book that I’ve started, even when it is as bad as ‘The Devil’s Staircase’ was. So obviously I ploughed on through it until halfway through when everything got much, much better. The first part of the book was just too wishy-washy for me, just general plot building that was just dragged on for too long in my opinion. Just the building up of Daniel and Cherry’s relationship and how his mother, Laura, doesn’t agree with it.
Speaking of the 3 main characters, there’s another thing I wasn’t content with. There is no likeable character. In standard story telling there is always a clear antagonist, that you immediately dislike, and the protagonist, that you immediately like. In ‘The Girlfriend’ there was neither a clear protagonist or antagonist, in fact I didn’t like any of the main 3 characters. Cherry was a sly and manipulative girl who just went to the extremes for what she wanted, Daniel was just so naiive it was ridiculous and the way he spoke to both Cherry and his mother was beyond frustrating and then there’s Laura. Mother Laura. What a god awful character. I’m going to assume she was supposed to be the protagonist (with Cherry the antagonist) but I couldn’t stand her. She was way way out of line for 90% of the book, and in a way that was supposed to be her character as the over-protective mother, but it was written in a sense that we as the reader should feel sympathy towards her. I felt no sympathy towards her, she is such an intrusive and fussing character that I was annoyed by her above all else. And my god, what is it with authors making female ‘victim’ characters in novels cry so much? Laura kept crying and feeling sorry for herself for pages. Plus this was quite repetitive and just describing it over and over again did not add much to the story.
However, once you hit that half way mark, things change. Something happens to Daniel (no spoilers) and the consequence of this is that Laura feels she must lie. This is where it gets good. Laura buries herself in a mountain of lies that quickly falls down causing her and her number one enemy to go head to head. The book is much more thriller and contains some great shocking parts and just hooks you in where the beginning couldn’t. Even the ending, which at first I wasn’t sure about, was much more thrilling and fast paced than the whole first half.
Overall, I did enjoy the book and I would probably read it again, I will just have to accept that there is no true protagonist in the book and so I can’t choose to support anyone. Do you think there has to be a true protagonist and antagonist in a book to make it good or ‘right’? Let me know in the comments.
My Rating: 4/5 STARS
You can get the book here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-girlfriend/michelle-frances/9781509821525