August 22, 2018

THE GIRLFRIEND by Michelle Frances

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she'll wish she'd never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three 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 to 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, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

I had not heard of The Girlfriend when I picked it up but apparently it was a bestseller. Reading it, I understand why. 

I liked the overall concept of being a psychological thriller and one that involves ripping the seams of a family unit apart. 

The Girlfriend will draw you in from the first pages, causing the reader to early and quickly become invested in Laura, Daniel and Cherry and the outcome of their impending explosion, or implosion.  The characters are relatable -- both the three main leads, as well as the supporting players -- as well as the situation in which a mother does not approve of her son's girlfriend.  

That's not to say that the characters were without flaws.  All of them were.  Laura, while a loving mother, is also overprotective and overinvested in her adult son and takes some unconventional and immoral steps to keep him to herself.  Daniel is blind when it comes to his girlfriend and the warning signs that are clearly there, and quick to take her side.  Cherry is so adamant that she escape her blue collar upbringing and working class mother that she's obsessive about keeping Daniel.  Ironically, both Laura and Cherry are similar in their devotion to Daniel and wanting to keep him to themselves.  Neither are right in their actions and behaviors and neither are seen as solely the heroine or the villain in the tale.  Both are manipulative and both play dirty.  So the real question is who do you root for? 

The Girlfriend had me so tense and so frustrated with one of these characters that I literally felt like I not only disliked but hated this fictional character.  Not hated in the way that it made me dislike the book but hated the character so much that I couldn't wait to finish the book to see what was going to happen. 

I found this book to be a literary form of caffeine or chocolate.  Highly addictive.  I had a hard time putting the book down.  In fact, I tried to force myself to stay awake longer to read, resulting in me dropping the book on my face when I simply couldn't keep my eyes open.  Not because the tale wasn't fascinating but because it was two in the morning. 

And a minor note but as someone who loves all things British, I was delighted that the book took place primarily in London, with some lovely field trips to the south of France and a brief one to Wales.   

If I have one complaint about The Girlfriend, it's that the ending failed to live up to the breakneck pace of the rest of the book.  The ending felt rushed and bizarrely lacking in any bulk.  I was expecting a meatier payoff and was left disappointed with what I was given.  That said, although I wish the ending had been more substantial, it doesn't lessen my overall enjoyment and satisfaction with the book.  

The Girlfriend is a great read for the beach, the airplane or if you're just in the mood for a twisty psychological tale that will remind you what jealousy can do to you and everyone around you.  Credit to Michelle Frances on this, her debut novel.  I look forward to seeing her future work. 

The Girlfriend is available for purchase at major booksellers and as an audiobook through Audible.


For more information on author Michelle Frances, please visit her website.

FTC Disclosure:  I obtained this book at my local public library.  I was neither paid nor compensated for this review.

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