9 April 2015
Secrets and lies form the basis for this very modern family saga which exposes the risky business of sharing information online.
The Smiths have recently relocated to rural Norfolk, where Ailsa is the newly appointed headmistress of the local secondary school. Her husband, Harry has agreed to conduct his neuroscience research from home, which, whilst commendable, doesn’t quite sit well within the family dynamics. For their three children, Luke, Romy and Ben, a new school and new friendships bring their own set of challenges. Their neighbours, the Fairports have a more relaxed attitude to family life, which adds a rather interesting element to the story. However, when a devastating scandal emerges, life for both families will never be the same again.
In many ways this is a modern coming of age story which shows that the risks to young people are coming from a very different direction. The focus on the perils of naive cyber-promiscuity, when, with just one click of a button a reprehensible video can rampage through cyber space, acts as a salutary warning. The dynamics of modern family life is well explored; the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child and sibling versus sibling is well thought out and it becomes fascinating to watch the whole thing unravel, strand by strand. Scattered throughout the novel, like pearls of wisdom, are snippets of neuroscience about what makes the brain function as it does, explanations which are quite fascinating and which add an extra dimension to the story.
At times quite poignant and other times quite shocking, The Good Girl commands your attention from the beginning and shows both the vulnerability and the overwhelming strength of family life.
Fiona Neill is a novelist and a journalist. She is the author of the novels Slummy Mummy, based on her hugely popular column in the London Times a Sunday Times bestseller that sold in twenty-five countries, and What the Nanny Saw . She lives in North London with her husband and three children.
My thanks to Penguin UK for the opportunity to read this novel as part of the
Love Reading Readers Review panel.