Review of ‘The Good Girl’ by Fiona Neill

This is Fiona Neill’s fourth novel and I found it a compelling read. If you are the parent of a teenager, I would imagine this novel could leave you feeling more than a little unsettled, if not down right terrified.

Romy is  a straight A student who hopes to go to medical school.  Her mother Ailsa is the new Head of the school she attends in Norfolk.  The family have all recently relocated from London, but the three children in the family, Luke, the eldest son, Romy, who is 17 and the youngest child Ben have not been given a clear answer as to why they had to move.

Romy soon discovers why, and this changes her relationship with her parents forever.  I can say no more than that for fear of spoilers.  This is one strand of the story.  The main plot however centres around the fallout when Romy becomes caught up in a sex scandal at school.   When new neighbours, the Lovedays move in next door, both families lives become irrevocably entwined. The teenagers from both families become embroiled in secrets, scandals and more, while trying to find their place in the world.

This is a novel predominantly about the choices we make in life and the repercussions of those choices.  How one seemingly small decision can change the direction of your life forever.  It is also about the dangers of social media and the manner in which our lives can become so connected to our social media image, and what is known about us online.

The novel is told from the perspectives of both Ailsa and Romy. This highlights  their individual struggles and their beliefs of how others perceive them, which is usually inaccurate.  The family dynamics are portrayed with razor sharp accuracy and small touches of irony and humour.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  Fiona Neill deals with very complex issues such as sexting, pornography, parental responsibility (where does it begin and end??) and much more.   I thought her characters were authentically portrayed and empathetic, and the dynamic between both parents with each of their three children made for fascinating reading.

I would recommend this book and I am now interested in reading more of Fiona Neill’s work.

I would love to hear your views on this book, particularly if you have ever experienced any online trials by social media, or  perhaps you have teenagers of your own and have a view point.

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Recently Read Recommendations!

I have been doing a lot of reading lately, so I thought I would share some of the books I have read, because I am a giving sort of a gal!

OK, firstly I discovered a totally new writer whilst I was doing research for my first fictional novel.  Her name is Christina McKenna and she hails from a little village in Northern Ireland called Draperstown in County Derry, where my grandfather came from.  She has written a very amusing trilogy of life in the village of ‘Tailorstown’ (fictional but we can guess where it’s based upon!)  I have read the first two books in the trilogy:  ‘The Misremembered Man’ and ‘The Disenchanted Widow.’  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them.  Her characters are so vivid and typically ‘Norn Ireland’ that you can so identify with their sense of humour, (if you are from this part of the world, and if you are not, you will be introduced to a new type of humour!)  I found the narrative to be lighthearted, witty, but also poignant and touching.  I am looking forward to reading the third book in the trilogy.   You can check out Christine McKenna’s author page here:  Christina McKenna She reminded me a tiny bit of my favourite Northern Irish writer Anne Dunlop, whose books I simply adore and have read several times!

Secondly I read ‘Us’ by David Nicholls.  Now I think this book could be a bit like marmite.   Having loved ‘One Day,’  I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but I must say I adored it.   It is all about a man called Douglas who is desperately trying to keep his wife Connie from leaving him.  His son is about to head off to college, so he plans a trip round Europe for the three of them.  Needless to say, disaster ensues.  I found the character of Douglas to be a bit stereo typically anal (sorry!) and yet I was on his side from the get-go.   Nicholls is a master of good descriptive writing and great characterization, so for me it was a total page turner and  I had it read in a couple of days.  It is a poignant story of desperately trying to hold on to something that is slipping out of your grasp, and consequently you can’t do right for doing wrong, and who among us hasn’t been there?!!

My final recommendation is ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I am reading this for my Third Thursday book club at the Gutter bookshop in Dublin.  I am a big fan of her writing anyway, but so far I am loving this novel about two  young Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze.  Ifemelu goes to the USA to university, and is faced with race and identity issues.  Obinze lives a more desperate life in London.  After undergoing life changing events, and being broken apart through circumstances largely beyond their control, they meet up again in Nigeria 15 years later.  So far I am loving this novel.  Her writing is exquisite.

Don’t forget to read September’s Book club choice ‘The Good Girl.’   Also please do share your comments.  I would much rather this was a conversation than a monologue!    Thanks.