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MN Merton & Wimbledon group - The Good Girl (by Fiona Neill)

(9 Posts)
LocalEditorMerton Mon 17-Aug-15 12:32:28

"It takes a split second to make a decision that can alter the course of your life... And a lifetime to undo the consequences." (as Fiona Neill's publicity describes The Good Girl).

The Mumsnet Merton & Wimbledon Book Group is currently reading this novel with a view to another heated literary debate at our September meet-up. Initially I had some reservations, based upon reviews suggesting similarities with Gone Girl (which I struggled to finish, finding it less than the page-turner thriller the hype had suggested). I was entirely wrong about The Good Girl though. Mumsnetters, I was hooked from the off, with a quickening curiosity to know more piqued by the 'problem' flagged up by one of the eponymous heroine's teachers on the opening page of the novel.

For those of us with teens, the 'problem' mentioned in the first sentence, and central to the unflinching portrayal of the Field family in freefall plot of The Good Girl, is a very real (if not shock) possibility to be ignored by parents of teens at our peril. That a social media fuelled 'sex film scandal' can happen to Romy Field (the beautiful, smart and conscientious student who wants to study medicine, who has never previously caused a ripple to family life, and is described by her Headteacher (and mother), as "a blank canvas.") is pivotal to her seemingly happy family's unravelling.

Here are some Mumsnetters' reviews (including my own). Helen Walsh, author of The Lemon Grove, describes it thus: "Neill writes with verve, honesty and breath-taking insight. Utterly unputdownable."

I loved the contrast between the Fields and Fairports (and their homes), the first (Romy) and third (Ailsa) person narratives, the different generations, the warmth of indoor home life and the cold outdoors. It was a very engaging novel. As a reader, I very much felt like a fly on the wall, watching events unfurl close by.

The neuroscience talk (as explained by Harry Field, Romy's father) about teenage brains was fascinating, and helped to give solid scientific explanation as to why such a clever, conscientious and logical teenager should do something quite so rash (as filming herself performing oral sex on her boyfriend, Jay).

Have you read it? What are your thoughts? What other novels does it remind you of? Have you read any of Fiona Neill's other books, and if so, how do they compare with The Good Girl? It would be great to hear your thoughts. Hopefully some fellow MN Merton & Wimbledon Book Group Mumsnetters will add their insights too.

I can imagine this being made into a film or BBC TV drama very soon. Who would you ideally cast in the lead roles? I can see Nicola Walker playing Rachel, Olivia Williams or Maxine Peake as Ailsa but who would you choose for the larger-than-life Fairports, Harry, Luke and Ben?

OP’s posts: |
LumpySpacedPrincess Mon 17-Aug-15 14:45:37

I read it and I hated it, predicted the end half way through and found it really poorly written. I loved Gone Girl though which lots of people hated, different strokes for different folks. smile

LumpySpacedPrincess Mon 17-Aug-15 14:50:31

Totally confused now, I read The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, different book same title. confused

<steps away from the thread>

JillBYeats Mon 17-Aug-15 14:51:55

Gave up half way through - didn't like any of the characters and could not care less what became of them.

User543212345 Mon 17-Aug-15 15:14:23

I read it and I hated it, predicted the end half way through and found it really poorly written

Exactly this. Interesting enough to start with but telegraphed the ending from early on and truly a disappointing read.

Though her description of cruises as "an open prison with less interesting inmates" or something of that ilk did make me smile

LocalEditorMerton Mon 17-Aug-15 18:56:19

Hi Mumsnetters

It is easy to be confused because there are indeed two novels called The Good Girl (how did that get overlooked by the respective publishing houses?):

This one by Mary Kubica, set in the USA

This one by Fiona Neill, set in England

(And just to confuse matters even more, there's also the 2002 rom-com film called The Good Girl, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal).

This thread concerns Fiona Neill's The Good Girl. It's not a thriller but it is unputdownable IMHO, and I'd recommend it if you're looking for a good page-turner to read in coming days/weeks.

wink

Kate

OP’s posts: |
District13Tribute Mon 17-Aug-15 19:37:23

I agree with LocalEditorMerton; this was a serious page-turner. I am a big fan of dual perspective narrative, particularly the mother-daughter version, and thought this central relationship was handled very well here, without the usual histrionics. You could dismiss this novel as a tick-box exercise in 21st century neuroses and it was often too heavy-handed (I'm sorry but are the Fairports even remotely real??). BUT I think it dealt well with the reality that, despite all the complex scientific reasoning provided in the narrative for almost any action or reaction, people often act rashly, on impulse and entirely out of character because people are hugely complex and some things can't be rationalised. Interestingly in this novel the mother's actions bear far less moral scrutiny than the daughter's - but both act in the context of their generation. The daughter Romy is the victim of this; her actions are caught for eternity in a social media vortex accessible by the entire world, whereas the mother's are conducted offline. Her indiscretions will remain invisible to all but a tiny inner circle. We are left to decide for ourselves who is the most culpable. The plot and sensitive central characterisation compelled me to keep reading, as did the uncomfortable feeling that it might all be coming a bit too close to home. Looking forward to the film!

TheCommoner Sun 30-Aug-15 16:37:07

I felt the author was tackling some interesting and very topical themes, and I wanted to read the book. However, I was pissed off by what I felt was clunky manipulation of the reader in the first chapter, and so I lost heart. I also found the author's style too self-conscious for my liking - I prefer a bit of subtlety.

Clawdy Sun 30-Aug-15 18:59:19

I didn't enjoy this one. The blurb was misleading - a "cataclysmic secret"? I don't think so,the secret was a well-used cliche in countless stories. The over-done pseudo-scientific waffling was beyond tedious, and I never for one moment believed Romy would have done something so stupid anyway. My copy went straight to the charity shop as I certainly couldn't recommend it.

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