The Girl In Times Square
The Girl In Times Square was recommended to me more than six years ago by an Internet pal, and I just never got around to it, one of those "always meant to pick it up, never did" books.
It's about Lily Quinn, a young struggling artist who has flunked college. Her Grandma sends her to Maui to take care of her mother for whom familial concern is growing due to her erratic behaviour. Whilst there she recieves a phonecall from the police to say that her best friend and roomate Amy has gone missing, in the midst of all this she discovers that she has won the lottery and then discovers she also has cancer.
If The Girl In Times Square sounds like a busy novel it is. There is a lot going on in this book. A missing persons investigation, family dysfunction, skeletons in closets, extra marital affairs, alcoholism, medical crises, secrets, lies and a love affair. It seems like all these plotlines might overwhelm a book or feel shoe-horned in somehow, and they probably would in a lesser book with lesser writing talent on show. The book becomes a proper juicy pot boiler of gossip overflowing with the action that is often seen in the events of the lives in an extended family. Think Maeve Binchy but in New York and with a somewhat grander scale. This isn't a criticism, I love Maeve Binchy's early work.
I have two rather slight criticisms of the novel, though I loved the Spencer/Lily dynamic it is the height of unprofessionalism in relation to her position in the investigation, and I very much doubt that in reality Spencer would have been allowed to continue in this manner nor Lily not share the rest of her family's anger toward him. My other issue was to do with a suspect in the Amy disappearance case, a total panto melodrama if ever there was one.
In spite of these slight flaws I really engaged with both the story and the characters, really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others. I read it in two short bursts, it felt like a good gossip and was good fun. The closing paragraph really gives the book a satisfying conclusion even if it does follow one of those horrible sequences whereby you are updated as to the fate of each character with a few sentences each. The conclusion of the Amy investigation is also satisfying.
A good involving read with plenty of incident and family drama, though rather sexistly I do think it has more female than universal appeal. 8/10