Book review: Lonely Girl by Lynne Vincent McCarthy

Sunday, June 24, 2018 Permalink

Lonely Girl is Lynne Vincent McCarthy’s first novel and it’s a confident and sophisticated debut. It’s beautifully written and there’s something very arresting about the prose and something very alluring about the narrative.

I definitely enjoyed the book but I was left with a sense of uncertainty. Confusion, perhaps so I’m very keen to hear what others think….

Book review: Lonely Girl by Lynne Vincent McCarthyLonely Girl
by Lynne Vincent McCarthy
Published by Macmillan Australia
on June 26th 2018
Source: PanMacmillan
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1743548125
Pages: 336

In a small town in the shadow of Mount Wellington, a woman named Ana is watching the clock, marking the days until she ends her life.

The strange, reclusive daughter of the local pariah, that's how people will remember her, when they remember her at all. No one will mourn her, she reasons, not really. Not even her faithful dog River. The only thing she's waiting for is the opportunity.

But then, on the very day she planned to end it all, the police find the body of local woman Rebecca Marsden. And for Ana, that changes everything. Because Ana was the last person to see Rebecca alive. Because Ana thinks she knows who killed her. And because Ana has decided to keep him for herself...

Ana’s an incredibly complex character and McCarthy unpacks her slowly and steadily, before revealing some interesting tidbits towards the end. It explains a lot, including her fascination for the Rebecca and the man she sees with her. There was an inconsistency about her character… which may have been on purpose, but it also felt like there was something missing. An additional insight into Ana – her personality and behaviour – that I couldn’t quite grasp.

Although we’re often taken back to her younger years with her heavy-drinking (quite promiscuous (and I feel judgemental saying that) mother and her difficult grandmother, it feels as if there should have been more to her life than that. There are a lot of years missing. Years I guess, spent with River, hence the closeness of their relationship… an unadulterated love which is portrayed beautifully by McCarthy in this book.

He was an intense creature from the start, the perfect match for Ana, except that while she held herself back from life River ran headlong into it. He was formidable in his protests if she ever dared to restrain him. It was as if he knew he’d been plucked from death and had to fully experience every moment from that point on. If Ana didn’t want to lose him she had no choice but to follow where he led.

He opened up her world and just having him by her side made it seem like a better place. All that’s changed now. Since he got sick he’s been leaving her a little more each day and in his place is a dark void that terrifies her. If she has to live in that world for even one day she has no doubt she will go mad. p 25

I should mention the setting as it’s something McCarthy also nails. I don’t know Tasmania or Hobart well but there’s a sense of the remoteness / smallness of Ana’s world – on the edge of the city. And of course her alone-ness.

An early edition of the book I have mentions it being a ‘gothic’ thriller which worried me a little as it’s not a genre I usually enjoy. Indeed, I did worry for a while that Ana had died early in the novel and I was reading about her spirit or similar. I don’t think that was the case, but I apologise for my logic-loving mind if there was something more metaphorical that I missed!

Like recent books: Little Gods by Jenny Ackland and The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady I was left a little confused by the ending, so I’m not entirely sure if the book ended as I thought. Either way it would make excellent bookclub fodder as there’s A LOT to talk about here.

Lonely Girl by Lynne Vincent McCarthy will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and available from 26 June 2018.

3.5 – 4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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