Book Reviews, Contemporary

The Neighbours – Nicola Gill Review

The Neighbours: Gill, Nicola: 9780008355395: Books

Rating: ★★★

Ginny and Cassie are neighbours, and although they have never met, and seem wildly different on the outside, they actually have a lot in common. Although Cassie is a 55 year old once-famous actress and Ginny is a 34 year old in PR, they both seem to have lost everything – Cassie’s behaviour on a reality show has made her public enemy number one, and Cassie has just found her boyfriend in bed with her boss, and now finds herself with no boyfriend and no job. They both also have what the other needs – Cassie needs a publicist, Ginny needs a job. Will the pair of them together be able to pull each other up from rock bottom?

There were aspects of this novel that I really liked. I could relate to Ginny’s worries about not being where she feels that she should be in life, not having achieved what she should have, and generally not having her life sorted out. She is worried that she has let her dreams pass her by, that she won’t be able to settle down and have children, and that she’ll regret the choices that she has made. I enjoyed her journey to accepting the things that she cannot change, fixing the decisions that she regrets, and trying to revive her long-forgotten dreams.

I also enjoyed the friendship between Ginny and Cassie, which is a real tale of being there for each other through thick and thin. They, like any friendship, have their ups and downs, but they also encourage and motivate each other through tough moments, are brutally honest with each other, and are always there to help each other. I liked how Gill explores Cassie’s mental health problems, by not adding any frills to it or romanticising it in any way, or providing a ‘cure’ in the form of a good friend. Ginny is there for Cassie, but there is no simple solution to the problem.

However, the plot fo the story sometimes felt too slow for me and there were large aspects of the book that I simply didn’t care about. Cassie’s romantic subplots felt like an afterthought and often I would start a chapter to discover that her situation had changed radically without it being explored – in one chapter, you would be introduced to a love i interest and in the next they would be deeply in love with absolutely no build up. On the other hand, Ginny’s romantic storylines were slow and often repetitive. I struggled with her habit of dithering and being indecisive, not because a character cannot have these flaws but because it meant that half of the book was her wondering about whether she had done the right thing and not doing anything about it. This means that her problems often didn’t feel like proper problems to me, but simply things that could have been fixed if she just spoke up. The storylines about her work were also difficult to enjoy, because they felt completely separate to the rest of the story and had little impact on the rest of the book.

Overall, whilst I enjoyed the relationship between Cassie and Ginny, this book lacked a strong plot in my opinion. Most Cassie and Ginny’s lives evolve without any input from or impact on the other character, and therefore their plots feel irrelevant to the central point of the book, which is their friendship.

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