I had been observing all the hype around The French Girl as a curious bystander until yesterday. During several attempts to kill boredom by refreshing my email, there were no bounds to my joy when suddenly I noticed an email from Penguin with the advanced reader copy. I had to start reading it right-away. True to my intentions, I started it right away and was glued to it for the better part of day, stopping in between only to get water or to stretch my limbs. I finished the book by evening, you can imagine how gripping the story was. The book is set to be released on February 20th, 2018 and is already open for pre-orders, so be ready to get your grubby paws on it as soon as it is released. 😀
After kicking her job as an Associate at a reputed law firm, Kate Channing is busy setting up her business as a head-hunter in London. Things are not great for her already what with the stress of setting up a new business, fussing over the finances to keep the company afloat and recovering from a bad breakup. To make the matters worse, a missing person case is re-opened after 10 years when the body of the missing girl is finally found in a well in a farmhouse in France. Kate and her 4 friends find themselves dragged back into the investigation as they were the ones occupying the farmhouse at the time the girl went missing. They were also the last ones to see the girl alive. The case that had started as a missing person investigation 10 years ago has now turned into a murder investigation. In the midst of investigation, with their tangled relationships, under-currents of jealousies, and hazy yet conflicting memories, the strains on their friendship begin to show. Before long, it becomes obvious that one of them had murdered Severine, the French girl, 10 years ago.
I don’t remember enjoying a thriller as much as this one after The Girl on the Train that I had read at the beginning of this year.The French Girl ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the plot, the storyline, character development and a decent ending. I feel the ending could have been better. Having said that, there are ample number of books with even worse and predictable endings, so I am not the one to complain. I would not be surprised if the book is made into a movie – it has all the characteristics of the book-to-film transition. The characters are friendly, yet dark enough. The story is gripping. The presence of Severine through Kate’s vision add to the interest factor although she is mute through out the story. This is a great debut novel by Lexie Elliott and I would surely be looking forward to more of her work in future.
I often find that mastering the art of first person narration can be very tricky considering the usage of too many I’s and the always looming threat of becoming excessively explanatory. While the first person narrative in the book from Kate’s perspective is bordering on internal monologues more than the actual dialogues in the book, her British sense of dry and dark humor saves the book from becoming boring on the accounts of introspection, and incessant monologues.
The side characters have their own highlights and shadows that keep them interesting. Kate’s visions of the dead girl lounging around in her life, moving about languidly also add an interesting dimension to the book. I also liked the shifting dynamics of relationships between the friends as the investigation twists and turns.
The total page-count of the book is 295. It is not a negative per se, but I wish there were a tad bit lesser drinks and dinner parties. I can understand that the only way the author could have shown the relationship and the shifts among the friends was through these social events but by the end of the book, it had become just too much.
Overall, I enjoy this book. The author kept the story moving with great narration and ample twists and turns to keep me hooked. I did not find any glaring loopholes in the story where I would just stare in disbelief. Overall, a great great debut novel. You should add it to your to-read list.
However, she never lost her longheld desire to become a writer and always had a drawer full of private scribblings.
Lexie lives in City of London, with her husband and two sons, juggling her time between a part-time fund management job, writing, or thinking about writing, family life and sport. Lexie is currently working on her second novel.
What did you think of The French Girl? Have you read it yet or are planning to? Let me know.