Today I’m delighted to be joining in the blog tour for The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join in and to publishers Headline for providing an advance copy for review. I’ll be sharing my thoughts in just a moment after we’ve seen what the book is all about.
About the Book
Juliette loves Nate. The fact that he’s broken up with her doesn’t change that.
She has a plan to win him back, starting with training as a ight attendant for the airline where he works as a pilot, so she can keep a closer eye on him. Twisting the self-help books she’s read, she takes the mantra ‘in charge of you own destiny’ to new extremes.
She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants – the perfect boyfriend, the perfect life, the perfect ending.
If I mentioned the words ‘bunny boiler’ then most people of a certain age will automatically think of Glenn Close and Fatal Attraction. Now take Glenn Close, stick her in a flight attendant’s uniform and fly her to 35,000 ft and you’ll have some idea of the kind of read you have coming when you pick up The Perfect Girlfriend.
Now I don’t think that plot wise I need to say much about the story other than Juliette is a woman who is determined to win back her former boyfriend at all costs. Dumped after just a year of perfect happiness, she feels that all she needs is one last chance to prove to Nate she is the woman of his dreams. She embarks upon a career as a flight attendant so that she can be close to him in his role as pilot, being careful not to allow their paths to cross too soon. I mean … she wouldn’t want to come across as a stalker now, would she.
This book is a truly intriguing read. Juliette is a very complex character who struggles to trust and to form permanent friendships and relationships for reasons which are explored throughout the text. She has an obsession with Nate and with the past and is not someone who can either forgive or forget easily. At first she comes across as someone who is infatuated and keen, but it is only as the story progresses that the full extent of her actions becomes clear. And that is where it becomes hard to discuss her character more, as to do so risks giving away too much about the plot.
Told in first person, it can be a very unsettling and claustrophobic read at times as you are always stuck in Juliette’s neurosis. For every moment of light, there are several more of darkness and perhaps even madness. Just when it appears she has a redeeming quality, a little something which gives the impression she may be redeemable, the darker side of her character re-emerges. And it can be quite a scary thing to be inside Juliette’s head, believe me. I was glued to the book, especially towards the end, as the disbelief over what was happening started to set in. It is both surreal and believable in equal measure, probably aided by the authentic feel of her life on the flight crew. I felt both enraged by her actions and also creeped out by them. She really is a difficult character to like, no matter her history, which makes it all the more intriguing that I was so invested in the story by the end.
Speaking of the end, I am not entirely sure how this will play out for readers. It feels like a marmite moment, perhaps a little abrupt for those who like a more definite ending to their reads. A resolution as it were. This ending is, well not exactly ambiguous per se, but it does leave a raft of unanswered questions for readers. Im not sure quite how I feel about it to be honest, or that fact that Nate didn’t take more decisive action earlier in the book. No matter the circumstance, the woman was a loon (not a clinical term there I appreciate but I’m not a doctor) and while I loved the tension it created, I’d have equally loved someone to call her out on it.
This was a most assured debut novel and rates as one of the strongest psychological thrillers I’ve read this year. If you like your stories completely obsessive, oppressive, claustrophobic and just plain twisted, then I’d heartily recommend The Perfect Girlfriend. And … if you’ve ever broken up with a slightly less than fully rational ex who also used to be a live in lover – well maybe also consider getting your locks changed. Just saying.
The Perfect Girlfriend is available now from the following retailers:
About the Author
Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy, and developed a love of travel through moving around so much. This led her to a career as a flight attendant, and it was in the air that she thought of the idea for her debut thriller THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND, which aims to explore not only obsession, but also the true faces behind those who go to work in uniform.
Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy, and has now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband.
You can follow Karen on Twitter. Just in a non-Juliette, not a stalker kind of way, please!
In fact, just follow the tour. That’s a lot safer.