Book Title and Author: The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
Publication Date and Publisher: January 30, 2018 by Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Adult, Domestic Drama
Pages: 432 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: January 24, 2018 (e-Arc)
A chilling domestic thriller, The Girlfriend brilliantly renders the relationships between a fiercely protective mother, a charming son, and the young woman who will stop at nothing to come between them.
Laura Cavendish can’t wait to meet the woman who’s won her son’s affection. Despite a successful career in television and a long, prosperous marriage, Laura’s world revolves around kind, talented Daniel. She pictures his new girlfriend, Cherry, becoming a close friend and confidante . . . one day, even a daughter-in-law.
But although Cherry is beautiful and amiable, Laura can’t warm to her. There’s something about the possessive way she touches Daniel, the little lies Laura detects. Cherry seems to resent Laura, driving a wedge between mother and son—until one day Daniel is injured in a terrible accident. Six months later, with Daniel still in a coma and facing death, Laura makes a fateful decision—and carries out an astonishing deceit.
A handsome doctor for a husband, with a trust fund and a family villa in St. Tropez—it was all supposed to be Cherry’s. Now, instead of living with Daniel in his impeccable home, she’s jobless and broke. And then Cherry discovers Laura’s stunning deception. But Cherry is too clever, too ambitious to let her get away with it. She’d already transformed herself into Daniel’s dream woman. Now she’ll become Laura’s worst nightmare.
When I requested The Girlfriend from Edelweiss, I did it based on the intense, chilling sounding premise that promises readers that it’s a “gripping, artfully plotted psychological thriller.” However…and once again…this is a book that is marketed to be something that it is not since it’s much more of a domestic drama with a few spine-tingling and creepy moments thrown in. While reading it, I imagined a very dramatic, over the top, suspenseful, soap opera type, made for TV movie, which isn’t a bad thing but not at all what I expected. Regardless that the book has been mismarketed, I think that many people who enjoy light suspense or tense, apprehensive family dramas will like this book or even love it.
Actually, I really enjoyed the book! To be honest, it was a bit of a pageturner because it has an addictive quality that draws you in since you want to see what terrible things the two main female characters are going to do next…and believe me, there are some insane, diabolical things happening in this book! However, I didn’t love the book. My biggest problems (besides its not being a psychological thriller) is its uneven pacing, and it is quite predictable in parts due to an overabundance of cliches. Otherwise, it would have been a 4 star read.
What worked well in the novel is Michelle Frances wrote fantastic and highly believable characters who just happen to be some of the most unreliable narrators that I’ve come across in a long time! Laura is an overbearing mother who only wants what any mother wants for her son–for him to be safe and have the best life can offer. Yet, she takes possessive too a whole new level of crazy when she begins to suspect that her son Daniel’s new girlfriend, Cherry, is a lying, conniving golddigger. You soon learn there is a reason for Laura’s fierce overprotectiveness of her son, and it pulls at your heartstrings. At the same time, her lies and manipulations in the middle of the book towards Cherry are insane! It made me really glad that my mother-in-law likes me!
Then there is Cherry, the girlfriend. Let me just tell you that I absolutely despised Cherry. I may have disliked Laura at times but at times, I felt sorry for her. I never felt sorry for Cherry. Cherry’s a girl who was brought up by a poor, single mother, and she’s determined to have a life of luxury, and Daniel is the key to the life she thinks she deserves. Nothing is going to stand in her way, certainly not his mother! This was an intense, twisted, cruel character. **Slight Spoiler** There is one scene near the end of the book that involves animal cruelty where I almost DNF’d the book because I was so sickened and upset. So if you have a problem with animal cruelty, this book is not for you! *** But even with Cherry’s twisted, messed up deceptions and manipulations, this still wasn’t thriller material.
This book is seriously crazy though but in a good way. Yes, it has predictable cliches and unlikeable characters but when I was reading it, I felt like I was being sucked into the lies and deceit taking place. The ending was a bit of a let down since the buildup was full of creeping apprehension and tension, but I’m okay with the way it ended.
My best advice is read this book without any expectations of it being a psychological thriller or suspense and know it’s a twisted, dark domestic drama. I believe if my expectations had been different, then I would have enjoyed The Girlfriend much more. I still recommend it, and I would like to read more of Frances’ books in the future.
** Thank you Edelweiss, Kensington Books, and Michelle Frances for an ARC copy in exchange for my fair and honest review.**
About the Author: Michelle Frances
Michelle Frances graduated from Bournemouth Film School in 1996 and then from the Master’s programme at the American Film Institute, Los Angeles, in 1998. Returning to London, she has worked for several years in film and TV as a script editor and producer for both the independent sector and the BBC.
The Girlfriend is her first novel.
Find out more at http://michellefrancesbooks.com