An Anonymous Girl a collaborative effort by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, is due for release in early 2019. It is an interesting and nicely-paced thriller with some unfortunate credibility issues. The story is told in alternating points of view, beginning with protagonist Jessica Ferris, a young woman barely getting by as a contract make-up artist in New York City. In first-person narration, Jess describes her turning away from friends and a potential career in the theater after experiencing debasing sexual harassment. She needs more income to support herself, and she also is secretly subsidizing expensive treatments for her sister with special needs. During an appointment with two NYU students, Jess overhears them discussing a highly-lucrative university study that one of them is planning to skip out on the next day. Jess decides to seize this opportunity for some quick cash by showing up for the appointment and impersonating the student. It turns out that the study involves questions of morality and ethics and is being conducted by Dr. Shields-a well-respected psychology professor and therapist. Dr. Shields provides the other voice in the novel, her chapters are presented from the second-person point-of-view. After Jess and Dr. Shields meet in person, what began as a straightforward computerized questionnaire evolves into an expanded, in vivo sequence of experiments with greater personal risk and payment for Jess. Jess increasingly becomes dependent on the money and Dr. Shields but is unaware of the objectives of the research and its underlying motives. The reader comes to understand that Jess is being manipulated, and she is not the first to be drawn into a potentially deadly scheme. Hendricks and Pekkanen require the reader to believe that Dr. Shields has an almost supernatural ability to read people, collect details about them, and persuade them to act. While Jess is a sympathetic character, she makes many dubious decisions and her gullibility is often implausible. The stakes for Jess are so high, the reader might wonder why she allows herself to continue on such an obviously dangerous path. A side romantic plotline is also cursorily brought into the story but it is thin and remains underdeveloped. An Anonymous Girl remains an entertaining novel, with some genuine thrills and originality for those who can suspend disbelief and overlook these minor flaws.
I spent half a hour down a rabbit hole just because I couldn't remember if this was a library copy and Amazon deleted my review, which was witty and succinct and insightful but not spoilery, and not at all like the review of a very tired person, which I am.
Good book, lots of twists in the spaghetti and many of them unexpected.
Good for genre: suspense, romantic suspense, darkest London, amateur sleuth.
Book Blurb: 1914 The worlds stand on the edge of change. But women still have no vote. Evelyn is rich and clever, but she isn’t allowed to go to university. Life is set out for her, but Evelyn wants freedom and choice, even if it means paying the highest price alongside her fellow Suffragettes. Meanwhile, May campaigns tirelessly for women’s votes with other anti-violence suffragists. When she meets Nell, a girl who’s grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women can find their place. But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could imagine. As the Great War looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?
What I thought: It was a good read. You can tell that the book is well-researched. I did find it, though, a bit PC-ish that the book was trying to represent homosexuality, for example, and still managed to cotton-wrap the issue – I don’t think many people were yet as understanding in 1910s as the author makes it out to be. The book plot also missed the edginess for me with the issues it covers. It is written with YA in mind and yet I was taken aback that Nicholls describes sexual relationship of two fifteen year old girls. As an adult reading the book, it did make me feel somewhat voyeurish. There was no need for that at all in the story line. Overall, the book offers a wide range, perhaps somewhat lighthearted, introduction to subjects of the fight for women’s suffrage, the Great War and homosexuality. Not bad, give it a go.