The Book’s The Thing…
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