The Book’s The Thing…

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

IT ALL kicked off with Stieg Lars­son, au­thor of the Scandi-noir tril­ogy, The Girl With The Dragon Tat­too, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hor­net’s Nest. Lis­beth Sa­lan­der, the dark and dam­aged ‘Girl’ of the books, be­came a cult hero­ine with her Goth make-up, elab­o­rate tat­toos, fiery in­tel­li­gence, and take-no-pris­on­ers at­ti­tude. Such was her pop­u­lar­ity that even af­ter her cre­ator, Lars­son, had passed, Lis­beth got an­other out­ing in The Girl In The Spi­der’s Web (writ­ten by David Lager­crantz).

Gil­lian Flynn was next up with the ground­break­ing thriller, Gone Girl, with its un­re­li­able nar­ra­tor and be­wil­der­ing shifts between points of view. Amy Dunne, the ‘Girl’ of this book, sells her­self to us as the per­fect girl­friend and wife be­fore be­ing re­vealed as a cold-as-ice so­ciopath. (No, I am not play­ing the spoiler alert game with this one; if you haven’t both­ered to read the book or see the movie yet, I am as­sum­ing that you are never go­ing to get around to it!)

Then came Paula Hawkins, with The Girl On The Train, with an­other un­re­li­able nar­ra­tor in Rachel, whose life is

But the ti­tle mat­ters too, espe­cially if it has the key word ‘Girl’ in it

as­sured de­but novel, is TifAni FaNelli, ed­i­tor at a women’s mag­a­zine and writer of sex col­umns, who seems to have life all worked out – un­til we dis­cover the se­cret she is hid­ing. She was gang-raped, and then slut-shamed, in high school, and has car­ried the scars ever since. The book is the story of her com­ing to terms with her past and con­fronting the demons that have plagued her ever since. For me, the story be­came even more poignant in hindsight, when Knoll wrote an es­say (a year or so af­ter the book came out and be­came an in­stant hit) re­veal­ing that the book drew heav­ily on her own ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing gang-raped and slut-shamed in high school.

by Alex Mar­wood: The ‘Wicked Girls’ of the ti­tle are Bel and Jade who meet one fate­ful sum­mer day and end up be­ing charged with the mur­der of a child – even though they are re­ally chil­dren them­selves. This novel, writ­ten by the Bri­tish jour­nal­ist, Ser­ena Mack­esy, un­der the pseu­do­nym Alex Mar­wood, is loosely based on the mur­der of James Bul­ger, who was just short of three years when he was tor­tured and mur­dered by two 10-year-old boys (Robert Thomp­son and Jon Ven­ables) in 1993. But at its core, this is more than a crime story. It is more an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into child psy­chol­ogy, the ran­dom­ness of events, the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, and the tabloid cul­ture. It is dif­fi­cult read­ing at times, but well worth the ef­fort.

by Mary Ku­bica: When Mia Den­nett leaves a bar with a stranger (be­cause her boyfriend is a noshow), she doesn’t re­alise that she is sign­ing up for more than a one-night stand. The story al­ter­nates between the past and the present, the nar­ra­tive un­folds from the per­spec­tive of dif­fer­ing char­ac­ters, and the reader of­ten feels that she is ne­go­ti­at­ing shift­ing sands, not en­tirely sure where they are lead­ing her. I won’t say more be­cause, you know, spoiler alert. But, as Ama­zon would say, if you loved Gone Girl, you might en­joy read­ing The Good Girl too.

by Fiona Neill: Yes, that’s right. This ti­tle is so pop­u­lar that it has two books at­tached to it. The Good Girl in Fiona Neill’s ver­sion, is the teenager, Romy, whose fam­ily has just re­lo­cated from Lon­don to the coun­try­side. This moral­ity tale for the new mil­len­ni­als gets its im­pe­tus from a sex­ting scan­dal but uses it as a start­ing point to ex­plore both the fragility and the strength of fam­ily bonds. The har­ried mom and dad of this book, Alisa and Harry Field, will strike a chord with par­ents of re­bel­lious teenagers ev­ery­where, and young adults of the porn-again gen­er­a­tion may well see some­thing of them­selves in both Romy and her boyfriend, Jay. For more SPEC­TA­TOR col­umns by Seema Goswami, log on to hin­dus­tan­times.com/brunch. Fol­low her on Twit­ter at twit­ter.com/seemagoswami

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