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March book club - The Girlfriend

(61 Posts)
LauraGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 27-Feb-17 14:22:22

Our March book club pick is The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances (details HERE).

The books should be on their way to our winners very shortly. If you do get a lovely free copy, make sure you leave your questions and comments for Michelle on this thread by the end of March.

Feel free to join in the discussion even if you didn't get your hands on one of our giveaway copies but are reading it nonetheless - be sure to add your questions for Michelle too.

Happy reading!

trisher Sun 19-Mar-17 17:02:43

Of the two characters, Laura and Cherry I think Cherry actually came across as the more likeable. Yes she was a fortune hunter and hunting a man to look after her, but she was aware of this and she intended to make a bargain and stick to it. I thought Laura had very similar motivation but seemed unaware that she was in a similar situation, married to a man who didn't love her, fully conscious of this but wanting the lifestyle his money bought her. I wondered if the writer had met women who were like this.

mbody Mon 20-Mar-17 17:00:43

A fast paced easy read which would make good holiday reading this summer. The characters were well drawn but belief had to be suspended at times, but that's the same with quite a few books.

annemac101 Mon 20-Mar-17 19:36:31

I couldn't put this book down. At first I felt sorry for Cherry then It thought the she was the type of person who would never be happy no matter what. I liked Laura and really felt for her throughout the book although I do know she didn't do the right thing.
The suspense kept going and I never quite knew what to expect next. I think this book would make a great one off tv drama and would like to ask the author if there is a chance of that happening. This book will do so well during the summer as a holiday read and you won't be falling asleep on your sunbed reading it either. Thanks for the copy gransnet.

LadyGracie Tue 21-Mar-17 19:51:52

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it held my attention throughout, I thought Cherry was an awful person and wondered why Daniel couldn't see through her. I felt sorry for Laura who I thought came across as a very nice caring character, she was obviously distraught when she thought her son was dying and told Cherry he was dead, she should have come clean, that part of the story was taken too far. Nevertheless I was enthralled and I'm glad I got the chance to read it. Thank you.

NanSue Tue 21-Mar-17 20:02:52

I really enjoyed this book. I'm not sure I would have had the nerve to have told the lie that the character did, although I could see where she was coming from. So as not to spoil it for others, I won't name the characters but will say that one had more than one side and was certainly rather disturbed, while the other was verging on the smothering side. As others have said, it was easy reading and one that I could get totally lost in. Which for me is the whole point of reading a book such as this. I would definitely read other books written by this author, it was a good physiological thriller in my opinion.

Gagagran Tue 21-Mar-17 21:03:03

I think all we Mothers of sons could relate to Laura and her difficulty in the thought of "losing" him to another woman even though she tried hard to suppress that and to be welcoming and she was looking forward to being a friend to Cherry. Initially, that is, but as soon as she sussed out Cherry as being devious and manipulative, her tiger mother instincts came to the fore.

I thought this book was a page-turner easy-read and I that the characters of Laura and Daniel were well drawn.

I wonder if Michelle has ever come across a character like Cherry in real life or if she is purely a figment of her imagination?

trisher Tue 21-Mar-17 21:20:50

Sorry Gagagran I couldn't relate to Laura and her smothering at all, but maybe that's because I have 3 sons and so far have only managed to unload one of them permanently, another sort of and a third not at all. grin

matson Wed 22-Mar-17 13:19:58

Sorry, did not enjoy this book, from the reviews I expected some thing really gripping, but found it quite a tame read for a psychological thriller.

Greenfinch Mon 27-Mar-17 20:40:01

I really disliked Cherry so much that it spoilt my enjoyment of the book.The only character I warmed to was Wendy.I did want to see what happened in the end though and I ended up reading it this morning in a sunny churchyard in Dorking so that I could hand it on to someone else at our GN meet up.Had it been a short story I would have enjoyed it more.I felt it rather dragged in parts but over all it was OK.

obag Tue 28-Mar-17 09:51:55

Just finished the book and have to say I think it was one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long time, can't wait for Michelle to write more.

trisher Tue 28-Mar-17 10:01:09

obag "one of the best" I can recommend some much better ones if you want.

LadyGracie Tue 28-Mar-17 12:15:55

I enjoyed the book too trisher but admit it was a bit 'tame'. I would love you to recommend some others please.

trisher Tue 28-Mar-17 12:53:53

Maybe not the right thread for this. There are a lot of others about Crime novels and What are you reading?. If you haven't read Ruth Rendell she's the queen of the psychological thriller

GrannyGlyn Tue 28-Mar-17 22:20:40

This was a real page turner, I read it in about four sittings which is exceptional for me.
I found Laura a bit over the top, to the point where I began to loose sympathy with her character.
It was a good read, I think it would translate well to tv, it certainly had me taking a sharp intake of breath from time to time.
Thanks Gransnet and Michelle!

bookiemad15 Wed 29-Mar-17 08:01:09

I did enjoy this book despite the fact that both female protagonists are quite unlikeable - it was interesting to see how far both of them would go. It was a bit like a train crash as you know there isn't going to be a happy ending but you carry on helplessly waiting to see what happens.
It's an easy to read book with lovely descriptions of France and the uber-rich. it really flows and is easy to imagine as a film. I just wonder where the author found her inspiration for the mother and girlfriend?

GeminiJen Thu 30-Mar-17 17:27:34

Thanks Gransnet and Michelle.
I enjoyed reading this book.
Unfortunately, it arrived later in the month than expected, after I’d left home on a two week I ended up reading it today in one sitting in order to meet the end of March deadline for feedback.
That said, once started, I didn’t want to put it down. I found that the narrative cleverly drew me in from the outset, so that I quickly become engaged. The plot moves along at a good pace and the author maintains the momentum throughout the book in an enjoyable, unpredictable way. I liked the way the atmosphere of suspicion, tension and menace was gradually built up. Also the fact that both Laura and Cherry are well drawn characters, both believable, both flawed. And my heart went out to Wendy, Cherry’s mother.
I was surprised to read that this was a first novel for the author, it was so well written. Michelle's background in television drama has resulted in a very visual narrative. I had no difficulty seeing it all unfold in my imagination.
Hence my question: are there plans for a film or TV adaptation? I hope so!

middleagespread Sun 02-Apr-17 17:57:35

Pacy, tight writing and the descriptions of Cherry and Laura matched their personalities. I found the plot believable and felt torn between Cherry amd Laura for quite a while. The ending was actually quite satisfying in a way. Cherry's background explained so much about her and that Mother-Son bond was almost too much to bear. A great page turner.

Maggiemaybe Sun 02-Apr-17 22:51:28

Yes, I enjoyed this book, but with one or two reservations. The two main female characters and Howard were all so unlovable, I really didn't care what happened to them, though I liked both Daniel and Wendy. Some minor characters seemed to be introduced then fade out, serving no particular purpose: the rich kids in France and, in particular, the woman mentioned as getting close to Daniel during his recuperation, again in France, never to be heard of again. I found some of the writing uncomfortable - the judging of Wendy's world went beyond the shame Cherry felt about her background. We seemed to be invited to look down on the families shopping at Tesco and someone who would look for her mother-of-the-bride outfit at Designers at Debenhams as I did grin. And I agree with others that Cherry would easily have found out the truth about the central lie in the story.

It was very readable, though, not too dark, and I enjoyed the final twist. She may not wish to answer my nosy question, but I'd like to ask the author what her own background is - Laura, Cherry, or somewhere in between?

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 04-Apr-17 10:47:45

Just to say will be sending the questions over later today or tomorrow so if you received a copy and haven't yet posted on this thread it would be great if you could do so asap grin

trisher Tue 04-Apr-17 10:54:36

Ok here's another one- Does she really think that most men are as easily manipulated and as useless (apart from earning lots of money) as Daniel and Howard are?

philatel Mon 10-Apr-17 11:17:26

Wow - if this is Michelle's debut novel, I can't wait for the 2nd! I really enjoyed this psychological thriller - was waiting around in hospital for 2 days so managed to read it in 2 goes. Meet the Mother in law from hell who is jealous of her son's girlfriend. It is an easy read but I found it gripping - with poor Daniel, the son, stuck in the middle of a doting Mother and a new girlfriend. Thoroughly recommend.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 26-Apr-17 12:04:40

Answers from Michelle coming up

MichelleFrances Wed 26-Apr-17 12:08:26


I found this an easy book to finish. I became interested in the characters, speculated to myself on their histories and motivations as the dynamic evolved. I agree it would make a tv series. I would be interested to know more about the inspiration for this book.

Hi, thank you for your question. The book really started with the lie in the middle of the novel, which is completely made up but then I began to think: what might be a valid situation where a mother would not want her son going out with a particular girl? I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with a (happily married) colleague at work some years before who’d jokingly said if she had her time again, she’d spend all her money on a Chanel handbag and go and hang out at the rowing clubs in places like Richmond and catch herself a wealthy man. It was a joke but it made me think… People do say you fall for those who are around you so if you deliberately place yourself somewhere where there are wealthy people – what’s the difference between falling in love with someone rich, instead of staying in a less-affluent area and falling in love with someone poor? And then Cherry started to come alive, she’s smart, she’s lonely and she’s desperate to get out of her situation and so she comes up with her idea to work in the estate agent.

MichelleFrances Wed 26-Apr-17 12:09:52


I am sorry to say I didn't really enjoy this book. It is very dark, and I found myself racing to get to the end so that I could read something lighter in tone. It did rather remind me of a television serial ( it would work well as one). The most sympathetic character, I felt, was Cherry's mum, Wendy. I would like to ask the author whether any real events prompted her to write this story.

See above! There are other more detailed real events that influence the story – I read a fascinating article in the Guardian newspaper about the extraordinary underground extensions going on in London and couldn’t quite believe how luxurious, deep and disruptive they can be. Also, I remember hearing a radio programme about the difficulties some women were having with their new daughters-in- law and one story particularly affected me. A heart-broken woman had phoned in and was in tears speaking of how she was excluded to the extent she hadn’t even known her son and his new wife had had not one, but two children. She had discovered that her grandchildren existed by accident.

MichelleFrances Wed 26-Apr-17 12:12:34


I liked this book.there were quite a few different undercurrents running through it, and each character had their own flaw.There was a lot of co dependency happening and this obviously happens in real life too.
I like that Cherry and Laura both were not bad through and through, just in parts and I wondered if Michelle wanted us to feel sympathetic in any way to them or to despise them for their acts ? Neither started off totally bad, but both ended up that way, and both lost something along the way.Daniel seemed to lose out most of all, yes he had his money and his background to fall back on, but I couldn't help but feel sorry for him.I liked Michelle's description, and I too could feel the sunshine at the house in France, I just bet the author went there..purely for research purposes of course !!

I enjoyed reading the book, thank you Michelle.

I find it hard to despise either of them – particularly in the beginning. I want to shake Cherry and tell her to relax right at the start of the book and stop worrying so much! It’s sad really, she genuinely cares for Daniel (even though she does also like his money) and if she’d just stopped fretting about what Laura thought of her things might have worked out very differently. And Laura does the most awful thing but she has been told by the doctors that
Daniel has days – possibly hours – to live, and I can’t help but understand her actions as she’s about to lose her second – and only remaining – child. Both women have moments of possession and jealously and they are ugly, dangerous emotions that make them do despicable things. But as people I feel sorry for them both in many ways.

As a child we would go on holiday every other year to the South of France. My parents would save up and we would take the car on the train and then camp in a small town south of St Tropez. I remember being dragged around the famous town whilst my parents read all the menus placed outside restaurants, but we couldn’t afford to eat in them, we’d end up going to
a less-glitzy town instead! The memories of the area have stayed with me to this day, it’s so beautiful and in particular the scent of pine trees in the sun will take me right back there.