When a copy of Fiona Neills new book “The Good Girl” popped through my letterbox, courtesy of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, I was doubly excited – a new book to read and a blog post to write – result.
“The Good Girl” is Neill’s fourth novel. I have read two of the others (The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy and What the Nanny Saw) so I was already a fan but I still approached it afresh. The jacket design is a departure from previous books so I wasn’t sure if she may have taken a new path in her writing. I dived in with an open mind.
The premise of the story is a family that finds itself at the heart of an internet based scandal. Head teacher Ailsa is horrified when Romy, her daughter, a straight A student and a pupil at her own school, is exposed in a viral scandal of horrific proportions. But should she be so quick to judge when she has secrets of her own lurking in the background?
As the parent of a teen and a nearly teen this book is VERY scary. Internet bullying, sexting, marital infidelity and the long reaching effect on family life. It is everything you know is going on but try to pretend isn’t.
The writing is pacey yet sensitive and, with apologies for the cliché, I really couldn’t put it down. The story unfolds with colour and depth and I found my view of the characters shifting with each chapter.
Based on the three of Neill’s novels that I have read I would say that she excels in character driven stories with a climactic finish. Real enough to resonate but imaginative enough to be gripping and entertaining. The Good Girl tackled so many issues with honesty and sensitivity, I was particularly struck by the descriptions of bereavement as Ailsa grieves for her recently passed mother.
Reading this book will make you hyper aware of your digital footprint and, if you have teenagers in the house, you will watch them closely nad hold them more tightly.. I was going to haul out another cliché and say it is great holiday read but I think that would be a disservice. This book is a great read anytime, holidays or not.