Sometimes a book just seems to call to you from your bookshelf and this is exactly what happened with Her Pretty Face. The fact this happened meant that I had the optimum conditions to read and review it… I’m a “mood reader” and always enjoy books more when I’m in the mood for them.
So did Her Pretty Face fulfil my wishes? Oh boy, IT DID. I devoured this book in an afternoon and loved the cross genre nature of the book. I’m not 100% how they’ve classed this book but from the author quotes and front cover it feels like a psychological thriller, by the end I couldn’t decide if it even fitted into one slot. At first I thought it was a hybrid of the domestic noir and psychological genres and then I began to pick up on the more contemporary vibes, i.e. there was more to this story than just twists, it was about unearthing the hopes and vulnerabilities of each character and depicting the changing dynamics of relationships. You’re probably thinking but don’t psychological thrillers writers do that anyway? And yes they do, but in a different style. Perhaps it’s easier to compare Harding’s writing style to others to explain my point. Imagine if Jodi Picoult, Taylor Jenkins Reid or Ann Patchett wrote a psychological thriller… if you can, that’s close to my thoughts on Harding’s style.
The book opens with a news clipping detailing the search for missing Courtney Carey back in 1996, and then flicks to the present as we are introduced to Frances. Frances is a stay-at-home mum with insecurities about her weight and a lack of friends. When she meets Kate at her son’s school, she can’t believe her luck at finding a friend who is both beautiful and kind. With Kate’s son, Charles becoming such good friends with Frances’ boy Marcus, the girls’ friendship continues to blossom and strengthen. Life seems pretty good, except both women seem to be hiding secrets. Will the burdens of their past destroy what they have now?
So what do these two ladies have to do with Courtney’s disappearance, the dates match up to when they both would have been teenagers…
Luckily Harding has another POV to explain it to the reader. D.J. is Courtney’s brother and we join him in the past as his family struggle through the heartbreaking ordeal.
Our final POV is Kate’s daughter; Daisy, who provides the most heart rendering aspect to the book, in my opinion. Her portrayal of defiance and independence to the outside world, is so far from the truth that even when she does something reckless, I couldn’t get angry with her. She was so lost and desperate for someone to show her love. One of her reckless adventures is the catalyst for the past to unravel… and now we have to guess, who’s more dangerous Kate or Frances?
Her Pretty Face was tense, compelling and shocking; you can grab a paperback or eBook version now from Simon & Schuster. (I have the US hardback edition, if you’re confused by the massively different covers)
Until next time, Chloé x