Now I know I’ve already shared my review of The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan a couple of times before – but when Vicky at Aria Fiction invited me to join the blog tour for the paperback, released on 11th July with its gorgeous new cover, there was no way I could say no. Of all Faith’s wonderful books, I think this one might be my favourite – and it thoroughly deserved its place as one of my books of the year in 2017. So, let’s do it just one more time…
A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it.
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.
Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.
By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.
It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.
This was one of those books that you’d like to go on for ever – every time I was forced to set this book aside I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to pick it up, and it was constantly in my thoughts. The author’s writing is several notches more accomplished than it was in the earlier books (and I do distinctly remember using the word “accomplished” about them too), and the way this book succeeded in engaging my every emotion was quite exceptional.
The two women at this book’s heart are perfectly drawn. At the start you may just find them “interesting”, as their past and present is laid out before you – you might not even like either of them very much, even wonder how they can sustain a story. But it doesn’t take very long until you feel for them both with every fibre of your being – when a book moves you to tears (and several times), has you laughing out loud, brings a lump to your throat, and then makes you cry again with sheer joy, you know you’re reading something rather special.
Tess – in the present – is in her sixties, lonely (although she’d never admit it) and cantankerous, and you’ll wonder how you could ever grow to love her, but you will. The author herself is a great deal younger, but her insight into the mind and feelings of her creation absolutely took my breath away. It’s not difficult to find a lot you’ll recognise in Amanda too – and I just loved the strength she shows as she transforms her life and discovers those things that are most important for her happiness.
And the relationship between the two women is just perfectly handled as they both feel their way forward. The supporting cast are excellent too – Tess’s mousy sister Nancy (and their interesting sibling relationship), Amanda’s obnoxious husband, her teenage daughter Robyn, gorgeous gardener Carlos, and the wonderful Kilker. And as for Matt… well, what a character he is! And then there’s the house, the flat and the square itself – almost characters in their own right.
The pacing – the ebb and flow – of the story is absolutely faultless, and its unfolding an absolute joy.
Did you miss the earlier stops on the tour? You’ll find the details here…
About the author
Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
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