I admit to judging books by their covers. Generally, that pans out for me. This one had a great cover AND a promising teaser from Joyce Carol Oates:
As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock-suspenseful and atmospheric.
Did you read the same book as me Joyce? In fairness, there is a bit of Tartt, Flynn and Hitchock in here, but only the worst parts. I can’t speak to Highsmith, but the navel gazing society kids of Tartt, the crazy lady on steroids of Flynn and the fragile and malleable blonde bombshells of Hitchcock are all here in some form.
Alice and Lucy are college roommates during the 1950’s. Alice is glamorous, rich and British. Lucy is a local scholarship student who would like to be Alice. They begin a friendship that borders on romantic and is full of possessiveness, gas lighting and single white female “I was just trying your clothes on, I don’t want to be you” weirdness.
After a tragic incident occurs at college, both women are separated for a time. Alice gets married and moves to Tangiers where her baseline anxiety is heightened by the foreigness of Morocco. Isolated in her apartment while her husband galavants around town, Alice is in self-imposed exile when Lucy shows up, out of the blue, on her doorstep. Bodies drop and craziness ensues.
While it was atmospheric and the suspense of “what the heck is going on?” kept me reading, its hard to cheer for caricatures. Every character was a stereotype: the pretty, affluent and fragile leading lady, the underprivileged, whip smart but crazy college room-mate, the smarmy American husband wealthy in name only and the clueless Aunt who never sees it all coming. Hard to get behind anyone in this book. Cover: 4 stars. Book: 2.