First off I would say this book being marketed as chick lit or romance gives the wrong impression. There are some romantic elements, but I would push this more towards the drama side of things for the most part. Probably because you get to look at three marriages in different states, one long term couple that are very happy, three single women, an elderly woman and one single man. All together there is mention of maybe 20 characters, but we follow around a core of maybe 10 people throughout this book (Eve/Ed, Rachel/David, Kim/Jason, Charlotte, Emily, Trip, and Violet.
"The Girl Next Door" follows the inhabitants of an upper East Side co-op building in NYC. The book tries to frame things around a married couple (Eve and Ed) moving to NYC for a year from England, but that does not quite work. I thought there story was okay, but I felt pretty unmoved by them until almost the end of the book, I really found other characters more interesting. The book shifts perspectives and we follow along through many months to see what the city has in store for these characters.
Eve and Ed are dealing with moving to NY with Eve alone most of the time and being angry at Ed for her loneliness. Honestly I felt bored by both of them. Probably because if I had a chance to be living in NYC for a year without working I would be at every museum/play that I could. When Eve pushes for Ed and her to try for a baby, you definitely get the sense that it's becoming a band-aid to the bigger issues that are cropping up in their marriage. I will say it was nice that Noble didn't have Ed being a jerk or anything, he was just busy with work and not used to his wife being needy since until they moved she was really self-sufficient. As I said above though, I was pretty bored with these two.
The only real friend that Eve makes is an elderly woman named Violet. Violet and Eve meet when Eve joins a gardening committee for the building. Violet has a "tragic past" and it takes the whole book to get into it. I was pretty bored by her as well. Sorry.
I think for me the best characters to follow were Rachel/David, Kim/Jason, and Charlotte. And honestly Noble jumps around a lot so you really only get in depth looks at Rachel, Kim, Jason, Trip, and Charlotte.
Rachel and David appear to have the perfect marriage.
Kim and Jason's marriage is floundering after having to deal with the effects of dealing with IVF for many years before they had their hellspawn (sorry, everyone bitches about their kid in this book and it's kind of hilarious).
Trip is a trust fund kid without any idea about what he wants to do. When he meets Emily he realizes that he is going to have make changes if he wants to be with her.
Charlotte loves romance books though she chooses to opt out on making any changes to her life and prefers to daydream about things more.
The writing I thought was very good. Noble does a good job of having different voices for all of the characters. Even if she didn't there are headers to let you know who is currently speaking when you get to a new section/piece in the chapter you are reading. I thought it was great to show how slow things are to change/move by following these people over a long time period.
The setting is NYC and Noble manages to capture the city I thought very well. I kept laughing though at some pop cultural references that I think will end up aging the book after a while though.
The ending leaves things up in the air with several characters which is why I was glad to see in the afterword that Noble had initially planned to write a sequel to this book after she finished her next one. However, I can see that Noble has not put out a new book in years, so I don't think she's writing anymore. The last book of hers that I read was "When You Were Mine" and I did not like that one at all. I really did enjoy "Alphabet Weekends" though as well as "The Reading Group."
Really good book though why it's pushed as romance and chick lit surprises me. It gets into a lot of things here that I really thought were good: affairs, stay at home moms, working moms, cultural differences, etc. I know that at one point Noble mentioned writing a sequel to this book but she never did which was a shame.
Ended up skipping to this last night since my Kindle would not sync! UGH. Okay book so far. Noble is doing a very good job keeping the characters different enough I can follow along though there seems to be about 8 (maybe) characters to track. There is Eve and her husband, neighbors Violet, Charlotte, Emily, Trip, and two sets of families that we have not gotten into much at this point. Takes place in NY.
Ketchum was a man way ahead of his time. In 1989, he wrote The Girl Next Door. There was nothing on the shelves remotely like it by other authors. There was nothing as brutal, as gut-wrenching, or emotionally draining as The Girl Next Door. This kind of fiction wouldn't see the light of day for another 10-20 years and no one has done it as well as Ketchum did almost 30 years ago.
Meg and her sister Susan's parents are killed in an automobile accident. They come to live next door to 12-year old David. Ruth, a single-mom whose rough-around-the-edges demeanor always made her home inviting to David and his peers. You could sneak a beer, take a drag off a cigarette and she wouldn't care. When the girls move in, David begins to have a crush on Meg. But as time passes, it is apparent that all is not well in the household. Meg begins to confide in David of Ruth abusing her. David can't believe it. Ruth? The mom that was so fun to be around? Soon David discovers that the stories are true and they're only the beginning of a long, downward spiral into horrific abuse and madness, and all he can do is watch it unfold in front of his very eyes.
The Girl Next Door is loosely based off a true story that took place in 1965. Just knowing that makes the world seem like a darker place. These types of stories weren't told on the news back then like they are now. This was a time where skeletons were kept in the closet and people turned a blind eye from things they deemed to be "none of their business". Ketchum's story has a twisted, Lord of the Flies quality to it. Adults were trusted by children to always be right and do the right thing back then. Watching the children join in on Ruth's madness towards the girls twists your guts with a chef's knife. You can't look away and just when you think it can't get any worse...well, I'm sure you can finish that sentence yourself. The Girl Next Door is a story that will haunt me for the rest of my life. It's that powerful.
5 Steel Doored Torture Chambers out of 5
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