I am so grateful for all of the books I received this summer to review! One of the novels I received from the nice folks over at William Morrow was Bianca Zander’s The Girl Below. Once again, this one seemed pretty much right up my alley – time travel, a bit of Britain, and a little bit of the surreal/fantasy/suspense thrown in for good measure.
Here is the official synopsis:
Suki Piper is a stranger in her hometown. . . .
After ten years in New Zealand, Suki returns to London, to a city that won’t let her in. However, a chance visit with Peggy—an old family friend who still lives in the building where she grew up—convinces Suki that there is a way to reconnect with the life she left behind a decade earlier. But the more involved she becomes with Peggy’s dysfunctional family, including Peggy’s wayward sixteen-year-old grandson, the more Suki finds herself mysteriously slipping back in time—to the night of a party her parents threw in their garden more than twenty years ago, when something happened in an old, long-unused air-raid shelter. . . .
A breathtaking whirlwind of mystery, transgression, and self-discovery, Bianca Zander’s The Girl Below is a haunting tale of secrets, human frailty, and dark memory that heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new literary talent.
I read the book in a weekend…it was a compelling and quick read. I’m not sure that I loved it, though. In my opinion, the main character was hard to connect to; I found Suki to be selfish, aimless, and a complete narcissist. She didn’t really seem to want to do anything to help herself (or her situation), and for me that was a profound turnoff. The pace of the book swung from quick to meandering, and there were portions I just didn’t care about (does that ever happen to you when you read?).
Despite my dislike of the main character, I was unwilling to break up with the book. The book was written in first-person voice, so I had to get past my irritation with Suki and focus on the story…and it was a great story. I was absolutely pulled in to the “what possibly could have happened down there” aspect, and there were a few moments where I was genuinely nervous (I am always worried about what could be lurking in a wardrobe).
I’m still not sure I’m satisfied with the resolution at the end, and I felt overall as though something was missing. But it was a decent read – I didn’t love it or hate it. I will absolutely read more from this author, as I think she has a great flair for writing. She utilizes fantastic imagery and descriptive writing, and can absolutely set a scene. I’m just hoping the next main character is more likable.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (June 19, 2012)
I received a complimentary copy of the book to review – no other compensation was given and all opinions expressed are my own.