The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble
Book Type: Large Print Hardback from Library
What makes a house a home? For Eve Gallagher, home is miles away in England since she and her husband relocated to an apartment building on New York’s Upper East Side. And life isn’t remotely coming up roses. What makes a neighbour a friend? Violet has lived in the building for decades but she’s always kept herself apart.
I was worried about how good this book was going to be when I opened up the first page and saw a list of characters. There were a few pages and my initial thought was simply “oh no”. To be honest, the first time I tried this book I only managed around 50 pages. The second time was much better however. This is mature chick-lit that looks at the idea of relocating, making friends and starting a family.
The central character is Eve, who moves to New York with her husband as he has earned a promotion. She finds herself living in a gorgeous flat, but even though there are people all around, she is isolated and alone. That is until a fellow neighbour hosts a meeting about the roof terrace – they have permission to make it a nice garden area. Eve goes along and meets some fellow neighbours, most notably Violet. She is an old lady who also emigrated from England, but until meeting Eve has kept herself apart from others. The book mainly follows these two characters with interludes from others in the apartment to break up the story. To be honest, although I can remember the other story lines – the over-bearing mother of a spoilt toddler, a love affair between two unlikely people and a new friendship – the characters themselves haven’t stayed with them, I couldn’t name them for instance. In reflection though, that doesn’t bother me as I remember Eve and Violet, and how Eve struggles with life in America, and then gets pregnant and has to deal with a premature birth. Violet is there all the way through and we learn her story and about her heartbreak, and that to me is the main story and worth remembering.
Noble takes on tough issues in this novel. She looks at relocating, premature birth and death. There are moments when this is a sad tale, and other times when it is uplifting. This shift in mood keeps the book entertaining. This is not the best Noble novel I have read – that would be Things I Want My Daughters to Know, but I enjoyed this.
I liked Eve and felt sorry for her. I could relate her as she struggled in New York – I wouldn’t have been brave enough to go out and make friends either. Ed, her husband, was nice enough but he didn’t understand her that well, and I was a bit gutted that he wasn’t too keen on her the pregnancy at first. I had to grow to like him, whereas I liked Eve instantly. I liked Violet as well. She was kind and caring, but she was stern and motherly, just what Eve wanted. The other characters were pleasant but don’t stick out in my mind that much. It was nice that Noble included the other storylines but I think the people she wrote needed to be more inspiring.
This is mature chick-lit and I really enjoyed it. I would happily recommend this novel to others who like Elizabeth Noble and like a good, emotional, realistic, interesting read.