What I read: The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore

The Garnett GirlsAbout this book

(book blurb from Jonathan Ball Publishers):

“‘Love makes you do things you never thought you were capable of.’

Forbidden, passionate and all-encompassing, Margo and Richard’s love affair was the stuff of legend- but, ultimately, doomed.

When Richard walked out, Margo locked herself away, leaving her three daughters, Rachel, Imogen and Sasha, to run wild.

Years later, charismatic Margo entertains lovers and friends in her cottage on the Isle of Wight, refusing to ever speak of Richard and her painful past. But her silence is keeping each of the Garnett girls from finding true happiness.

Rachel is desperate to return to London, but is held hostage by responsibility for Sandcove, their beloved but crumbling family home.

Dreamy Imogen feels the pressure to marry her kind, considerate fiancé, even when life is taking an unexpected turn.

And wild, passionate Sasha, trapped between her fractured family and controlling husband, is weighed down by a secret that could shake the family to its core… “

My thoughts:

“The Garnett Girls” is a brilliant debut!

Margo meets Richard and it was love and passion at first sight.  What she thought was written in the stars as the perfect love story, proves that their relationship was stormy, passionate but also doomed.

A few years into their marriage, Richard leaves Margo with three small children – their daughters Rachel, Imogen and Sascha.  The pain of abandonment and loss is too much for Margo to bear and she suffers a devastating breakdown. She refuses to talk about Richard, and as from the day he left no one is allowed to mention his name or share with the family what the cause of him leaving was.

Rachel, as the eldest, needs to step up at a very young age to try to look after her mother and siblings.  So much responsibility for this young girl, trying to keep her family together whilst dealing with an absent father and self-medicating mother.

The Garnett GirlsYears later, we still see the painful impact of the past and Margo’s breakdown that following, influencing everyone’s future relationships and mental state of minds.

I found “The Garnett Girls” to be deeply emotional and raw.  It deals with the complicated relationships of the Garnett family, amongst themselves and their extended families and friends.  There is quite a big cast of characters, but the role players are so well-developed and distinct, it didn’t take me long to figure out who’s who.

The protagonists are all strong female characters.  The Garnetts are flawed, human and still likeable.  Even Margo, whom some may say is an overly critical, domineering, and self-centred mother.  How much heartbreak and devastation can one take and still function ‘normally’?  Alice, Margo’s sister is an absolute gift.

‘Why are you calling your mother Margo now? You never used to.’

Rachel and Imogen looked at each other sadly. Rachel spoke for them both. ‘Because – well…it sounds bad – but calling her Ma doesn’t feel right anymore. She isn’t being our mum. There have always been two Margos, one who is Ma, just ours, and the other who is Margo who belongs to everyone else or who is in her own world. She’s Margo now – she doesn’t think of us.’ Rachel felt suddenly angry just thinking it and guilty for saying it.

This is profoundly character-driven, taking you on a journey of love, drama, trauma, secrets and loss.  How do you deal with the skeletons of past?  Is it better to leave things unsaid?  How do you overcome a dysfunctional family relationship?

What a beautiful, emotional, and well-written debut!  The author, Georgina Moore, developed well-fleshed out and absorbing role players, the gentle unfolding and care taken with each of the characters is astounding.

The Isle of Wight, where Sandcove, the Victorian family home stands, is a character of its own in this novel.  The author creates a wonderfully picturesque and atmospheric sense of place.

  • Debut novel
  • Absorbing, beautifully written
  • Intriguing family drama
  • Intelligent reading
  • Memorable characters

A five-star read for me!

With thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers for this review copy

The Details

Category: Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9780008506346
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
On sale: March 2023
Format: Paperback

About The Author

Georgina Moore https://www.georginamoore.co.uk/



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