Laura Cavendish can’t wait to meet the girl her son, Daniel, seems to be smitten with. She wishes the two of them would be great friends, hoping this girl will be some sort of replacement for the daughter she had lost. But, when they finally meet, there’s something off about Cherry that makes Laura uneasy. Laura also suspects Cherry is not as great as her son thinks she is, and that Cherry is pretending to be someone she is not.
To make matters worse, there is a certain possessiveness in the way Cherry holds Daniel and caresses him—it’s almost like she’s telling Laura to back off. Then Laura catches her lying about little things, taking money from Daniel, and borrowing his car. It seems she is also trying to drive a wedge between mother and son. But nothing she says can make Daniel change his mind. He loves Cherry and Laura, he thinks, is just being paranoid.
But is she? Or is there really something sinister about Cherry?
The story is predictable but you want to know what Cherry or Laura will do next and thus it keeps you hooked. Stories and dramas of rivalry between mothers- and (potential) daughters-in-law are nothing new but Michelle Frances’ debut novel, ‘The Girlfriend’ takes it up a notch. Both women are ruthless and there’s no telling what they are prepared to do to get their way.
What I also liked about the story is how emotionally charged it is—there’s the rift between Laura and her husband, Howard, the love between a mother and son, how we tend to take our friends for granted, and people’s need to be understood and accepted. You feel all sorts of emotions—jealousy, rage, concern, hurt—well up as you turn the pages.
Though the plot is fairly simple and straightforward, there are quite a few twists and turns to make Frances’ debut novel a gripping read. There isn’t much I can say about the book without giving the story away. But I can tell you that The Girlfriend was one of the most enjoyable domestic dramas I have read. Though it has been marketed as a psychological thriller, there isn’t much of the thrill element in the traditional sense. However, there is enough tension and suspense to keep the story fast-paced and so at no point do you get bored.