Review: The French Girl
The French Girl, Lexie Elliott
Expected publication: February 20, 2018
They were six university students from Oxford--friends and sometimes more than friends--spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway--until they met Severine, the girl next door.
For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group's loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can't forgive, and there are some people you can't forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.
Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine's body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she's worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.
It’s easy to sink into this story and to get a sense of who Kate is within just a few pages, which is great, because when you feel like you know someone, it’s easy to want to learn more about their life- especially if they might be accused of murder. You don’t spend pages hovering over the story, but rather right there in it, which makes it all the more fun to puzzle out the “whodunnit.”
While the style feels familiar enough to be comfortable, there are some surprising characters peppered in amongst the occasional well-trod character (though when it comes to describing policemen or lawyers, there’s definitely a culture there that draws a certain type of person) There’s a detective who cares more about people that closing a case, there’s a hardened lawyer-type who defies cliches in order to also treat Kate with kindness and almost paternal care.
Mostly, what makes the story so interesting is a combination of teasing out the events of the night when Severine died and trying to guess at how the various romantic entanglements woven throughout everything will play out.
And then there’s Severine herself. I hope I’m not spoiling too much, as it’s first mentioned fairly early in the book, that Kate begins to see the bones of the girl, and then the silent enigmatic dead girl herself- a hallucination of sorts. At first, this invisible-to-all-but-Kate character was strange enough to be annoying, to maybe even detract from liking Kate, but as the story progressed I could accept the inclusion of this would-be ghost.
It’s a fairly fast-paced mystery, driven by the various characters we encounter, meeting them as young adults, and then as true adults. If you like having a female protagonist to root for, and maybe even a little genuine romance, with your mysteries and thrillers, then you’ll love this book