Queen Bee by Jane Fallon
Publishing Date: 9th July 2020
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
Welcome to The Close – a beautiful street of mansions, where gorgeous Stella is the indisputable Queen Bee . . .
It is here that Laura, seeking peace and privacy after her marriage falls apart, rents a tiny studio. Unfortunately, her arrival upsets suspicious Stella – who fears Laura has designs on her fiancé, Al.
When Laura stumbles on the big secret Al is hiding, suddenly Stella’s perfectly controlled world, not to mention Laura’s future, are threatened.
Taking a chance on beating Al at his own twisted game, these two former strangers are fast becoming best friends.
But has Laura forgotten that revenge never comes without a sting in the tail?
After her marriage breaking apart, and the deal about buying her new house not working out at the last minute, Laura, the owner of a small cleaning company, is forced to temporarily rent something suitable and affordable for her and her daughter Betsy before she’ll find a new house for them. She finds a studio flat above one of the houses on The Close, a road where the super rich and their trophy wives reside. It looks like only her landlady Gail and her husband are welcoming here, and well, sooner rather than later Laura is also dragged in a new drama when Stella, the Queen Bee of The Close, accuses her of something Laura hasn’t done. She is desperate to defend herself but being ostracised by Stella means being ostracised by other residents of The Close. However, then, Laura finds something about Stella’s husband and tries to help her to become independent woman. But will Stella believe her?
It was a brilliant, drama packed story – but you also have to take this drama with a pinch of salt sometimes, and that’s one of the best things, I love when the author makes me to read between the lines, and it is always like this with Jane Fallon’s novels. “Queen Bee” is another smart and clever read, relatable and true to life from this author, and she writes how it really is in life.
There were plenty of engaging characters in this story, characters that you either really liked or hated, and all of them so significant to the plot, even the most background characters were so well developed. And, as always, the author has again proved that she is a great observer of societal norms and she tells about the differences between the characters without beating around the bush. The contrast between Laura and “the other half”, especially Stella, was so well and genuinely captured: Stella, the needy and privileged, without taking a second glance at Laura because she was simply of the “worse sort” in her eyes, a plastic perfection, not thinking twice about hurting someone’s feelings because standards don’t apply to her and she’s entitled to everything and never have worked a single day in her life, not afraid of her daughters becoming the “Mini – Hers”. But not able to boil a kettle or go locally shopping for groceries. The contrast to Laura, hard – working running her own cleaning company, never getting something for free but having to fight for it, drinking wine with screw caps and doing everything by herself, single – handedly couldn’t be bigger. Yes, sometimes I thought that Stella can’t be real, the level of her selfishness was beyond limits but it also was truly entertaining and really, I can only repeat myself that the author is a great observer of reality and can bring all the facts accurately and with a great dose of humour.
I adored Laura and her life – approach, how sarcastic and realistic she was and the fact that she didn’t take herself, and her surrounding, too seriously. And as the story is told through her perspective, it made me feel really satisfied when I got my dollop of Laura’s reality – check and her dry and witty internal monologues when she was telling us what she really thinks…
But you know what, I fell for Stella, funnily I really truly wanted that everything will end well for her. There was one moment, almost at the end, with the big reveal, when it all became clear, and I know she has lied, awfully, to her friends but on the other hand I somehow understood why she did it, and maybe I was not the hugest fan of the way she has lived her life and treated other people but well, I though she also doesn’t deserve the future that is suddenly threatening her.
So perhaps the characters were a bit exaggerated and a bit stereotyped but there was also enough depth to them all, and to the plot itself, to make them feel truly realistic and believable. For me, absolutely Laura – team, it was a real joy and great fun to see the inhabitants of The Close described in the distorting mirror. Yes, there are really people like them, taking themselves so seriously, but it only makes it even more funny…
The story was filled with twists and turns and there were moments that I wanted to keep reading hiding behind my hands, not wanting to see what may happen – yes, Laura, I’m looking at you and your spying for example. I desperately wanted to see what’s going to happen, I wanted life to come and bite some of the characters on their backsides, for the reality to knock some sense into them, and I loved to see their progress.
The writing style is chatty, light, uplifting and entertaining, and it flows quickly, sometimes too quickly as I really wanted this book to never end. The author has a way with words, immediately transporting me into the characters’ world that I didn’t want to leave. It is a story that explores family dynamics, broken promises, friendship, jealousy and those over – privileged, showing that grass isn’t always greener on the other side so be careful what you wish for! It is full of sharp observations and one – liners, it’s smart and sassy and nothing there is quite as it seems to be. Another winner from Jane Fallon – highly recommended!
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