Book Title: The French Girl
Author: Lexie Elliott
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 02/20/18
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.
I’m consistently intrigued by books with a premise of wonderful experiences gone awry, and that’s exactly what The French Girl promises. We see this set up more times than not in psychological thrillers today; a group of college friends plan some sort of vacation and something bad happens-usually a murder, or a sexual assault, or perhaps a kidnapping. In this case, it’s a disappearance where the body turns up a decade after the fact and the group begins to get antsy. Obviously someone is hiding something, but just how many someones are involved? What do they know and what did they do? Lucky for us, those pesky police continue to show up, poke around, and not let the past stay buried!
I was rightly informed ahead of time to expect a slow burn type of pacing here. This is 100% true, and for some readers this will be a deal breaker. It isn’t the type of psychological thriller that’s begins slowly and then gradually picks up steam; The French Girl keeps an especially reluctant groove that loiters in some moments and almost stops full tilt in others. I particularly enjoy a good character driven, lackadaisical novel, but this was a little slow even for my liking. My main issues were tied to the lack of suspense this caused which led into a fairly predictable plot. Readers who aren’t as tied to the mystery/suspense/thriller genre likely won’t find that last portion an issue, and if you are generally pleased with most mainstream, commercial thrillers of the psychological variety you’ll probably enjoy this one even more than I did.
While I did experience the above issues, it’s also fair to note that, as a debut piece of fiction, the writing here was beautiful, creative, and of high quality. I found myself getting lost in some of the memories and moments where Kate is feeling haunted by Severine. These parts were the strongest and most fascinating, and I found myself looking forward to these portions the most. I’m highly intrigued by Elliott’s writing and will certainly be awaiting her sophomore novel; girl’s got talent! Recommended to readers who enjoy a fascinating slow burn with insightful characters.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy.