#Review: The Girls by Bella Osborne @osborne_bella @AriaFiction #publicationday #contemporaryfiction #uplit #bookclubread #TheGirls

By | April 14, 2022

I’m really delighted today to be sharing my publication day review for The Girls, the new book from the wonderful Bella Osborne: published today by Aria Fiction, it’s now available as an ebook and in paperback, with the audiobook to follow on 1st May. My thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy, provided via netgalley.

Bella made me a new fan of her romantic comedies with The Promise of Summer – it really was the perfect summer read, beautifully written, wonderful characters, touching and hilarious, warm and uplifting, unashamedly romantic, and I loved every single moment (you can read my full review again here). And wasn’t it a delight to see her as one of the joint winners of the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy at the party last month? And then she tried something entirely different with The Library, more of a book club read – and that’s the one I finally chose to be one of my 2021 Books of the Year (you’ll find my review here), joyous, heartwarming and so wonderfully uplifting, and a book I entirely adored. And then I saw that the publishers were calling this one a feel-good and uplifting book club read too – although I think my invitation to join the blog tour must have been lost in the ether, there was really no way I was going to miss it…

Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?


In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.


Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.


As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?

World famous actress Zara might have preferred to keep her 80th birthday a little quieter – that she’s that old comes as a bit of a surprise to the three friends she lived with in the 70s too, but with varying degrees of enthusiasm they can’t resist the opportunity to attend a glitzy showbiz party and to spend time together once more. For all sorts of reasons, all three are finding life a little difficult at the moment, and when Zara suggests that they try living together again, they decide to give it a try – they can each pay her back by using some of their life skills – but they just hadn’t expected it to be in her sumptuous villa on the Riviera.

Jackie’s the chaotic one – still the wild child, formerly a carer but who’s recently lost her job because of a few unauthorised sidelines, and her nursing experience will be useful as Zara’s health is now failing. Val is the sensible one, has had a successful career as a solicitor, and her professional skills will come in useful to cast an eye over her business affairs. Pauline’s the quiet one – anxious and depressed in the wake of an abusive marriage and harbouring a guilty secret, lonely and lacking in confidence – and she’ll be the perfect choice to help Zara write her autobiography. They soon recover their supportive and very special friendship while living their new life of luxury – but none of them had realised that Zara’s health had declined as much as it had, that she had an ulterior motive in bringing them together again, and a very difficult favour to ask of them all.

The characterisation in this book is just wonderful – the story’s told from the points of view of the three friends, each with a very distinctive voice and their own set of memories and concerns, and it works particularly well in establishing their personalities and getting under their skin. The setting is fantastic, and particularly wonderfully drawn – and Zara moves in the kind of circles the others could never have imagined, with money no object, celebrity friends’ names and anecdotes about them littering her conversation, and with one in particular making a recurring (and hilarious) occasional appearance. And then the whole story takes a bit of a turn – their time together isn’t just fun and cocktails any more – and it turns into an intrigue-filled mystery with question marks over each woman’s involvement and their guilt or innocence.

There’s a perfect balance to this book – at times, it’s extremely funny, sometimes quite gentle, always a little more riotous when Jackie’s in the spotlight. But there are also moments of real sadness and poignancy as their former lives and experiences are exposed, quite beautifully handled with a very sure emotional touch. I grew to really love all of these women, involved in their lives, understanding their foibles and actions, feeling for them when the chips were down – and their special friendship, sometimes tested to its limits, had the most exceptional warmth and authenticity.

And I haven’t even mentioned the mysterious gardener, or Brian the cat, or Toby the foul-mouthed parrot – but they all play their parts in this wonderful story, which really was sheer enjoyment from beginning to end. I really loved this book – and recommend it really highly.

About the author

Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel, It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories.

Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays. She lives in the Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

For more about Bella, visit her website or follow her on social media:

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