So guys, after the Christmas and New year break I am baaaaack! And with the second blog tour of this year, and I am really excited to be a part of this one as I am a great and devoted fan of Kate Kerrigan. Have you read “The Dress” yet? If not, do not hesitate, it was a brilliant, brilliant read! But yes, she’s back with a new novel of hers, this lovely author, and this time she takes us to the London’s swinging sixties! If you follow the blog tour you can read some extracts from this novel and today I am sharing my review of this thought – provoking story.
That Girl by Kate Kerrigan
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publishing Date: 1st January 2018
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.
Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.
Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.
Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.
All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.
The story follows three young women from Ireland that more or less suddenly find themselves in the London’s swinging 60’s. It is my second book lately that was set in this time in London and I must admit that “That Girl” was much better than the other one – it was fast – paced and, above all, the characters felt realistic, they were so vivid and so easily brought to life by the author. So back to our main characters – they are very different but there is one thing that they have in common – they all run away from something. Hanna’s was probably the most shocking story and I so incredibly fell for her – after her mother has died, her step – father started to abuse her and she lived her life as his prisoner. She could do nothing about it – let’s not forget, it was Ireland and he was a very respected local doctor – until one day, when after coming to her limits Hanna leaves for London, trying to cover her tracks…
Lara is in love with Matthew, she’s always has been, and already envisions them married. However, one day, just out of the blue, Matthew tells her something that shatters Lara’s whole world. To flee the humiliation, Lara decides to leave for London to start a new life there. She quickly finds herself in the big city and I probably liked her most out of the three girls.
Noreen was the one that I liked the least. She was this kind of person that would elbow her way to the top and it’s not my favourite kind of person. She’s Matthew’s twin sister and Lara’s best friend. She can’t believe what her brother has done to her friend, however after seeing them both, Matthew and Lara, leaving the little town in Ireland to follow their dreams, she gets itchy feet as well and she decides that while she loves her fiancée John very much, she first wants to see and try different life, to taste the freedom – and so she goes to London as well.
All the three girls end up living together in one apartment above the gangster’s nightclub, and initially also working together but then their lives take different paths.
There were plenty of moments that took me absolutely by surprise and I would never in a million years guess that the story is going to take such turns! It starts telling Hanna’s story and then introducing us to the other girls, and it was so fast – paced that I didn’t have time to think what the three girls can have in common. I think Hanna’s story was the most shocking one, and I liked this girl, I simply liked her and I wished all best for her. Also Lara was my kind of person, she was not afraid to follow her dreams and to try. She wanted people to think she’s a tough cookie but there was also this vulnerable side to her. And as I have already mentioned, Noreen was my least favourite character, while you can admire her chutzpah and determination, especially in the 60’s Ireland, she was too egoistic for me, thinking only about herself and not respecting other people and their wishes.
It was different to what I was expecting but of course it’s not the book’s fault but I just had a feeling it’s too much of everything. It often felt too far – fetched and the ending felt much too rushed and somehow unrealistic. Everything fell always so neatly in the right places and you just knew that no matter what and how, everything is going to turn OK. I was expecting more depth from this author, and while this book was really great to read I had a feeling that there was tons of potential that was not made use of. It was as if there was an idea but the delivery and conclusion of it was missing.
The author has brought the swinging London perfectly to life and I love all the descriptions of the places and clothes (but again, I had a feeling that the author started something, like That Girl, described few dresses and then it was all. A few comparisons to some models of those times and nothing more. It just often felt that some of the subplots started but weren’t finished, or ended too abruptly). The atmosphere was there on the pages and the characters were changing, turning into people they wanted to be.
So yes, guys, this book gave me a headache – I liked it, please don’t get me wrong, but after reading “The Dress” by the same author I was expecting something more deep and complex. “That Girl” was about friendship, about love and relationships, about hurt and betrayal. The book was good guys, it was a mix of suspense, romance, dark comedy but maybe this was my problem because it felt as if the story doesn’t know what it wants to be. However, Kate Kerrigan is a great story – teller and this was a really well written and character driven story set in the swinging sixties in London. The book has it all: fashion, drama, sex, gangsters and crime but in the foreground there are stories of three different girls, Hanna, Lara and Noreen. There is a lot happening and the author mixes perfectly humour with drama, tragedies and funny moments. The author is not afraid to write about abuse and violence but it’s such an integral part of this story, and even if there are some moments with all the gory details for you, it works in this book, and also you have a feeling that it was deserved and couldn’t be different. Recommended!
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