‘I think you might be my father . . .’
When first-year student Zoë Barry walks into Professor David Connolly’s office and tentatively says these words, he is left reeling. But it is the lives of his family – particularly his wife Caroline – which are turned upside down by the arrival of this stranger.
A daughter, a sister, a friend . . . an enemy?
Though no one knows quite who Zoë is, she is soon entangled in their lives. Yet her stories don’t ring true and Caroline is determined to learn if the girl is the unlucky innocent she claims to be or someone with a far darker agenda.
A deadly cuckoo in the nest . . .Because by letting Zoë in, David and Caroline aren’t just leaving themselves vulnerable. They’re risking the most precious thing in the world – the lives of their children . . .
My review: 3/5
I was intrigued by the blurb of Girl Unknown – it promised me the psychological thrill that I enjoy, the duplicity and the complexity of families who have secrets hidden deep in their closets. David and Caroline Connelly’s lives are about to be turned upside down by the appearance of Zoe Barry who claims to be David’s daughter from a previous relationship. She has sought out David following the death of her mum but there is something quite complex about Zoe and her turning up is just about to have a major impact on the Connelly family as they struggle to come to terms with her intrusion into their lives.
On the surface David and Caroline appear to be happily married with two kids, Holly and Robbie – but there is an underlying tension within the family which is slowly uncovered as you read through the book. David is shocked at first when Zoe appears but her revelations take him back to the relationship that he once had with Zoe’s mum, Linda and as a reader you realise that there are still some deeply buried feelings for her that are about to push their way to the surface causing further ructions within the home.
Zoe is clearly a fragile and damaged young girl but there is also a malice about her which she can cleverly disguise depending on who she is engaging with – her vulnerability is clear to David who wants to make amends for not being around for her – but with Caroline she is cold, calculating and chilling.
As a character David irritated me so much, he appears so wrapped up in his own life, he comes across as both weak and self obsessed – at times I wanted to reach into the page and shake him for being so damn blind to what was going on around him.
I warmed to Caroline who, although not perfect, had more of a grip on reality and certainly was more outward looking, seeing the bigger picture. I wanted her to give David the proverbial kick up the backside and tell him to “wake up and smell the coffee”
With the family there were so many secrets and undercurrents of tension that you could almost see “dysfunctional” stamped across their foreheads!
So as I said the blurb enticed me, however, I felt the pace of the book was quite slow, throughout the book reference is constantly made to the climax of the book and what happened (without actually telling you what that was obviously) – there were lots of “what ifs” and “if only’s” from the characters throughout and I found this becoming quite tedious as I read through the book. The plot line is good (although I think it has been covered in many guises before by others), the building tension keeps you reading but when I finished the book I was left feeling slightly disappointed almost as though I had been promised a spectacular firework display and turned up to a couple of sparklers and a few damp squibs.
I probably feel that this book would work well as a film, the slow tension probably translating better onto a screen than onto the pages. I wouldn’t say I disliked the book – not at all – I just felt somehow slightly cheated when I got to the end. I would however read others by this author.
Thank you to Penguin and Netgalley for the ARC which I volunteered to read and give my unbiased review.