Book Review: The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore

About the Book:

Forbidden, passionate and all-encompassing, Margo and Richard’s love affair was the stuff of legend– but, ultimately, doomed.

When Richard walked out, Margo locked herself away, leaving her three daughters, Rachel, Imogen and Sasha, to run wild.

Years later, charismatic Margo entertains lovers and friends in her cottage on the Isle of Wight, refusing to ever speak of Richard and her painful past. But her silence is keeping each of the Garnett girls from finding true happiness.

Rachel is desperate to return to London, but is held hostage by responsibility for Sandcove, their beloved but crumbling family home.

Dreamy Imogen feels the pressure to marry her kind, considerate fiancé, even when life is taking an unexpected turn.

And wild, passionate Sasha, trapped between her fractured family and controlling husband, is weighed down by a secret that could shake the family to its core.

The Garnett Girls, the captivating debut from Georgina Moore, asks whether children can ever be free of the mistakes of their parents.

Published by HQ Fiction GB

Released February 2023

About the Book:

‘Why are you calling your mother Margo now? You never used to.’

Rachel and Imogen looked at each other sadly. Rachel spoke for them both. ‘Because – well…it sounds bad – but calling her Ma doesn’t feel right anymore. She isn’t being our mum. There have always been two Margos, one who is Ma, just ours, and the other who is Margo who belongs to everyone else or who is in her own world. She’s Margo now – she doesn’t think of us.’ Rachel felt suddenly angry just thinking it and guilty for saying it.

Aunt Alice was looking at her as if she understood, as if she knew this about Margo too. ‘Don’t forget, I’ve been her sister for a long time. I know about the two Margos. I think you’re very smart the way you put your feelings into words, Rachel, and that’s something Margo’s taught you to do. She’ll come back your Ma, I promise you. And she does think of you and love you. She’s just looking for the way back.’

This one was a most surprising debut. I am always partial to a good family story that focuses on sibling/parent relationships and this one was rich in both. Three sisters, their relationships with each other and their mother complex and heavy with so much love, so much history, and so much unsaid. I really loved this story and was immediately swept up into their lives.

It was hard to not dislike Margo. After being left by her alcoholic husband, she fell into a deeply depressed state and became an alcoholic herself, self-medicating and neglecting her three daughters, the eldest eleven and the youngest four, for the months on end. The girls relied on their aunt, the goodwill of neighbours, and their own devices to get through. The impact this neglectful period had on them was profound and followed them into adulthood. Even taking Margo’s mental health into account, I still found her a hard character to feel any empathy for. In the present day, she was an overbearing, overly critical, and generally dishonest mother. It’s like I could understand her, but not like her, not fully accept her behaviour. There was a streak of selfishness that ran through her, I even saw it in her relationship with her own sister – who, incidentally, was a splendid character!

The dynamics between Margo and each of her daughters was incredibly interesting. Each had their own relationship with her, and each had their own opinions on the stain their childhood had left upon them. None of them had a relationship with their father, and in fact, Margo insisted that he be wiped out of their lives, never to even be spoken of again.

Out of all the relationships woven throughout this novel, it is that of the sisters with each other that I really enjoyed reading. Three very different women, all with their own trauma wounds from their shared childhood. The way in which the dynamics between them were portrayed was wholly realistic. I really loved this story for that.

The Garnett Girls is a fine debut, and I will be keen to read more from this author in the future. Highly recommended – a five star read!

Thanks to the publisher for the early review copy.

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