Book Review: Michelle Frances’s ‘The Girlfriend’

This debut thriller is a slow burn, with a whole lotta tell versus show, and stereotyping (in a didactic narrative: Men like a nonconfrotational life. . . . As was the way with men, Will didn’t dwell on the subject long).

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Image: Goodreads

Gold-digger Cherry Laine (not a stripper, but punnily enough an estate agent-in-training) meets trust fund baby Daniel Cavendish, a Cambridge-educated junior doctor who is as dumb as rocks (“Mum, I’m not being obtuse.” cluck). His helicopter mum, Laura, is a TV producer when she’s not hovering over him (“Maybe she was wrong about Cherry. After all, Daniel was an intelligent person; he would have a hunch if something wasn’t right.” cluck), while his dad, Howard, for the most part is off shagging golf balls and his mistress, Marianne. Then there’s Cherry’s mum, Wendy, a supermarket checker manager; and friends and colleagues who serve minor roles.

The first half is really just a view into their insipid lives (even in St. Trop. It reminded me of The Vacationers in that regard). Had that nine-month backstory been condensed if not also enlivened — and had I not had to grapple with poorly constructed sentences, and with whom pronouns were associated and who was speaking in the dialogue — I would have liked it more.

It all boils down to a deadly tale of the morally bankrupt rich versus the morally bankrupt wannabe-rich.

Full of unlikable/unrelatable characters, the story definitely warrants a TRIGGER WARNING for animal abuse. Note: In the Cavendish men’s opinion, dogs are “[g]reen dustbins” that don’t belong on the bed or licking faces.

 

Release date: January 30, 2018