Who’s That Girl?
By: Mhairi McFarlane
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, Edie’s forced to take an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?
Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgy, layabout sister.
When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.
I read two of Mhairi McFarlane’s books last year (see author tag) and absolutely loved them. At the time I still had two of her other books to read but then I picked up this book. It took me a while after that to get around to reading it, probably because I wanted to savour it a bit and really be in the mood to enjoy it. Well, here we are 🙂
Oh gosh, I had a feeling/idea of what the ‘compromising position’ was going to be, but oh man was it hard to read! If there’s something I can totally emphathise and really cringe about when it comes to British sensibilities, it’s mortifying situations because yes, that was bum-clenchingly embarrassing. And the fall out was even worse! It does give a glimpse into how horrible online bullying and abuse can be as Edie is forced to lay off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. until the situation blows over…or not. Like ugh, people have no lives going about bullying people and saying such horrible, cowish things like that, and forcing Edie to flee like that…yeah, I really felt for Edie. It also goes to show how blame immediately falls on the single woman and the guy gets off almost scot-free.
Getting past the mortifying moment, it was interesting to follow Edie as she returns to Nottingham, trying to focus on her current assignment whilst dealing with the fallout of what happened at the wedding, juggling the reality of her return home, her relatively dysfunctional family, and just the overall state that her life is in. She’s not perfect, she makes mistakes, she has her flaws, she has issues about herself and coming to terms with herself and her past. She’s very identifiable and I was rooting for her all the way; there was this moment towards the end that had me punching the air and cheering her on. The other characters were great, from the hot newstar Elliot Owen to Edie’s old school friends Hannah and Nick (though Hannah doesn’t get as much development, I find, despite the reveal). I felt bad for Edie’s backstory and why her family is the way it is, but omg was her younger sister Meg the worst for most of the novel with her militant socialism and veganism and lording the Thompson house in tyranny; I found myself cheering the old neighbour Margot whenever she got into a row with Meg, however irascable Margot was in her own right.
Mhairi McFarlane’s writing is solid as always, even if it did take me a few chapters to warm up to the story (guess I was too scarred by the mortifying incident at the start of the novel). I was laughing (British swearing is always the best), I was all <3, I admit I may have almost shed a tear towards the end too. She also once again astutely nails down issues that 30-somethings--especially single people in their 30s--face. All in all Who’s That Girl? was another great read from Mhairi McFarlane: light enough to sit back and enjoy but dealing with serious topics like owning up to mistakes and issues of online bullying. Whilst not my favourite novel by the author, it’s still another solid outing. Can’t wait to get around to Here’s Looking At You and whatever else she writes next 🙂