Book Review: The French Girl

I listened to The French Girl on Audible since I’ve settled in to audiobooks during long runs. (It’s wonderful how quickly an hour or two will pass when I’m engrossed in a story.)

Set in present day, our narrator Kate Channing lives with a haunting. A decade prior Kate and a group of Oxford friends enjoyed a week’s vacation together at a French farmhouse. Some coupled, a few not, the group drank and goofed around as most university students would away from the pressures of academia.

Next door to the farmhouse lived Severine, a siren of a woman who intermingled with the Brits, causing heads to turn and jealousies to be born. The week ended with Severine missing.

Ten years later, her body is discovered in a well on the farmhouse property. With the French’s girl’s body, everything is unearthed. Unfortunately for Kate, the mystery of Severine’s death is made worse by the girl’s sudden, consistent presence in Kate’s everyday life. Is she hallucinating? Is Severine trying to communicate something? Or is Kate being punished on account of events she doesn’t remember?

The archetypes are strong in The French Girl. Like the cast of Friends, each character fulfills a specific role in the plot. Whether this is to the book’s benefit or detriment, I cannot decide. Right away I suspected a particular person, and though that suspicion shifted only a time or two, I settled confidently on this character based on archetype alone. My suspicions rang true.

This doesn’t distract from the mystery, though. It was still worthwhile to finish the book if only to discern how Severine died and why she, in her afterlife or in Kate’s own delusion, decided to linger and make her presence known in quiet, subtle ways. This element of suspense kept my attention, particularly since it was written so delicately.

I’m always curious about debut novels. Not the first book an author has written; rather, the first book a publishing house chooses to promote. More than reading it, I study it. What’s the equation? What’s the catch? Why this book? Lexie Elliott crafted a solid whodunit, but with flare. Archetypes + a Murder + the ghost of the dead girl? It’s a workable equation.

Which makes sense, considering Elliott is a theoretical physicist.


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