Written by Books

Tangerine by Christine Langan

The cover of the paperback edition of Tangerine has a quote from The Times claiming that the book is like a cross between Girl on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley.

This was one of those books that I absolutely did pick up based on the cover – but that strapline also sold it to me. Tangerine is Waterstones’ fiction book of the month, and it was in my local branch that I picked up a copy, finding the premise intriguing.

Alice Shipley has moved to Tangiers to be with her new husband John. But Alice is crippled with a kind of agoraphobia that means that she spends most of her time in her flat, and really has only the vaguest notion of what her husband does.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy and Alice went to a female-only college in the US, where something happened. Lucy showing up is not something Alice expected.

The book flips the narrative back and forth from each of the two women’s perspectives and we begin to learn more about what has happened, and what is now happening.

The comparisons with Patricia Highsmith’s most famed character are fair, although there aren’t quite the shocks and surprises that Tom Ripley gave us.

The book definitely gives us a sense of place – with its 1950s Moroccan setting, and the characters’ motivations are definitely well drawn. I suppose I thought it was just missing that extra bit.

One thing I would say is that Abacus share slightly too much of the plot on the back of the book, revealing something that doesn’t happen until close to the novel’s denouement. This same publisher’s blurb appears on the Amazon website, so I would avoid reading any more about the plot than I have already given here.