I must admit I was feeling a bit reticent when I started this book. I’d read the blurb and there was a bit of media around its release but I wasn’t sure I could be bothered with another bunny-boiling spurned lover.
However… The Perfect Girlfriend starts off a bit differently than expected and it kinda sets the scene for the rest of the book.
The Perfect Girlfriend
by Karen Hamilton
Published by Wildfire
on February 28th 2017
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 1472244265, 9781472244260
Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.
They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she'll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.
True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain...
Like I said, it’d be easy to write this book off as another The Girl on the Train or You wannabe but it’s a bit more complex. I was prepared for a flawed lead, who’s likeable but kinda insane or just troubled, and I guess we did get that via Lily / Juliette in some ways. But, we get a backstory not always on offer in other (similar) revenge-focused thrillers which have focussed more on the ‘now’ rather than the ‘how’ (the characters got there).
Interestingly the thing that really frustrated me about Juliette (which I guess means I engaged with her and thought of her as very real) was how much bloody potential she had – and still has. I didn’t spend weeks, months, or years obsessed with a man or revenge, but know I’ve wondered what else I might have done if I hadn’t been completely hamstrung by disordered eating for over 30yrs. Indeed, a psychologist once challenged me to think of things I might have achieved or pursued if I hadn’t been eaten away mentally by…. well, the issue of eating.
Anyhoo, Juliette seriously doesn’t realise (metaphorically and literally!) her potential, or perhaps she once did and became sidetracked. Either way her life purpose is being reunited with Nate (or more specifically, revenge)… and it’s a strategy she’s refreshingly ‘matter of fact’ about.
At home, I take out my lists. It’s a shame I didn’t bulk-buy voodoo dolls when I had the chance, but I could possibly order some more online.
I update my plans for all three of my enemies and it keeps me going until the early hours. p 222
We quickly discover that Juliette’s really just as obsessed with someone named Bella as she is with her ex Nate. And eventually learn why. I guessed at the underlying twist from there but enjoyed the journey Hamilton took us on to get there.
While I appreciated the lack of clichéd-ness of the first two-thirds of the book however, I struggled with the last third which got a bit outlandish. For someone who’d meticulously planned her revenge Juliette ends up winging it in a way that is a bit too OTT for me. Perhaps that’s how sociopathic high-flyers get their comeuppance or how murderous psychopaths get caught – they just can’t help themselves? Who knows, but Juliette and her behaviour become a bit too unfathomable / unbelievable towards the end, which probably impacted on my overall enjoyment of the book.
Because Hamilton introduces Lily’s childhood and school years I probably would also have liked a bit more detail about that, but it is enough that we’re able to understand this complex and eventually-frustrating character.
That aside, his book is well written and – though there’s sometimes a sense of childishness in Lily’s actions – there’s also a sense of pervading sarcasm. As if she knows better but does it anyway.
The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.