Such a Pretty Girl, a review by Di

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T. Greenwood

Kensington Books
October 25, 2022
304 pages

Goodreads | Amazon

I was looking forward to this book by T Greenwood. I’ve really enjoyed others she has written.

The subject matter is very relevant to the present, with the Me Too Movement and the Jeffrey Epstein victims.

In the beginning, I was struggling. It was not the subject matter, but the writing style. It has two timelines. One is 1976-77. The other is the “present”, being 2019. Even when we are in the present, much of the time, our protagonist (Ryan) is talking about the past. I find that to be very disjointed. But, eventually I got into the rhythm of the timelines.

The story is about a child actress/model and her mother, a stage mother. The mother lives her life vicariously through her famous daughter. It is not hard to figure out that the storyline is based on Brook Shields and her mother, right down to being the model for Love’s Baby Soft (a fragrance product from the late 1970s with a questionable ad campaign).

In some ways, this book reminds me of I’m Glad My Mother Died. In this book, no matter how much young Ryan is manipulated by her mother, she still loves her and worries about her. The mother seems to be narcissistic, self-serving, oblivious and many other adjectives.

There are many secondary characters in the book. I did not really warm up to any of them.

The interesting, true-to-life fact in the book that I enjoyed learning about was Westbeth. It is an apartment building complex that was started in 1970 to provide housing to artists (of all kinds) and their families. The establishment still stands. I think it is a much grander establishment now than it was when Ryan and her mother lived there.

In the end, I am disappointed with this book. And, I am probably in the minority. I see that other reviewers are liking it much more than I did. But, I always maintain that not every book is for everyone.

The plot had a lot of potential but the execution fell flat. It has just “meh” for me. When I was about 75 % through the book, everything started to come together. But, that is much too long to wait for a story to grab me. I have read many of Ms. Greenwood’s previous books and I have been able to give them excellent ratings. I will still look forward to the next one. She has had a great track record with me up until this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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