I really enjoyed this book. Paul Morris is a one-hit-wonder writer. He’s been coasting ever since his first (and only) flush of fame/success. Mostly Paul is in the company of younger women which suits him well. But now, running short of money and about to be turfed out of his subsidised/free accommodation, an older woman such as vulnerable, comfortably-off widow Alice, who comes on to him after a South London dinner party, might do very well for his next relationship.! And that’s how this novel begins. Also, she owns a villa in Greece, and Summer is fast approaching. To ingratiate into her successful, middle-class social set Paul passes himself off as more successful than he is. He starts with one lie, then invents a bigger one to cover the first, and so on. Somehow you know from the very start the wheels on this are going to fall off for Paul at any minute, but also there’s the whole book to come.
This is a terrific story and the characters so well drawn it runs like silk from the start. It’s been brilliantly plotted and the surprises continue until the last page. If you’ve ever been caught up in a group holiday where you feel the odd one out you will instantly relate to the social interplay of this story. The theme I assumed is honesty – because you find yourself almost shouting out, “Don’t tell that lie, don’t go there. Nooooooo.”. But the twist at the end will make you feel you’ve been completely manipulated from the very start. Clever stuff.
When Julia hears of her sister Kate’s death in Paris, she’s distraught. However, just before she died, she’d been demanding the return of the teenage son Julia adopted from her as a baby. So at least for Julia, losing the teenage boy she’s brought up as her own, is no longer an issue. But there’s a question mark over how exactly Kate died and Julia then goes online to try and trace her sister’s last movements. But she gets carried away with her own research. Very soon Julia is hooked on the excitement of secret online affairs and she starts up a relationship which will threaten everything she holds dear.
I found this book quite engrossing and it certainly had plenty of twists and flips. The lead character is certainly not the most likeable protagonist but the fact she has had addiction issues in the past and lived in a Berlin squat makes the character plausible. She’s now married to a successful consultant surgeon. Secretly she’s bored and craves breaking out a bit, which is how she gets suckered into the whole online hook-up thing. The secret calls and messages and other aspects of her living two lives got me turning pages, waiting for the whole wheels to fall off. Second Life has pace and intrigue. if you get into the story you’re definitely going to want to see what happens at the end.
I’ve read so many negative reviews of this book and particularly on this site. However, this novel was very influential for me. Not for the political viewpoint, nor the story. But mostly for Lessing’s descriptive powers and her insight into how women tick. Because of that, each page made me want to read on and on. That’s how a great writer grips you. While it was a while ago I read it, I remember thinking “phew, thanks for your honesty about female insecurity.” The book could have been shorter, but then again, it would not have been the Golden Notebook if it was half the length.
I loved this book. The author, too young to have had first-hand knowledge of the era, has done a brilliant job of capturing the feel of the time. I had high hopes from the cover and write-up and wasn’t misled. There is nothing left out of The Girls. Emma Cline has tackled the intriguing subject of impressionable teenagers head-on.
Evie makes for a compelling protagonist. She is readily manipulated by an older girl Suzanne and lured into the activities of a group of like-minded drifters. It’s a teenager led astray story set in the sixties, but relevant today when “grooming” is rarely out of the news.
The seduction by the bullying cult leader, the competition between the “followers” and the aimlessness of the camp where they reside are well covered. There is one particular part in which the group break into the suburban home of Evie’s neighbours “just because they can” which I found gripping. The writing style of this novel makes it an easy read, page turner.