Sunday 5 June 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Girls - Bella Osborne

In the 1970s, the girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara, the famous diva actor; Val, the uptight solicitor; Jackie, the wild child and Pauline, the quirky introvert. Now they're in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age. 

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn. 

As the women confront their demons, they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control, can they save their friendships and each other?

What did I think?

The Girls, written by Bella Osborne and narrated by Julia Franklin, is a fabulous addition to the Isis Audio catalogue.  I was so deeply affected by the story of four old friends that I couldn't prevent tears rolling down my face at the end.  

It's such a refreshing change to have older characters, with this wonderful cast being in their 60s, 70s and 80s.  They have so much history, both together and individually, and I loved all of them, although I particularly wanted to reach out to introvert Pauline to give her a massive hug.  Jackie often made me laugh as she speaks before she thinks and Val is the sensible one who loves spreadsheets (like me).

Pauline, Val and Jackie all receive an invitation to their old friend Zara's surprise 80th birthday party.  Zara is a famous actress so the invitation is met with varied feelings: delight from Jackie so she can rub shoulders with the stars, indifference from Val as she is as cool as a cucumber, and horror from Pauline who doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere.  Also horror from Zara when she turns up as she doesn't want everyone to know her age!  The party, however, is set to change all of their lives.

The story is wonderful and it went in a direction that completely surprised me.  Listening to the characters interacting with each other is like putting on a comfy pair of old slippers as they all get on so well.  It's not all air kisses and compliments though as each character has some deep issues to work through, but a problem shared is a problem halved and there's nothing they won't do for each other...or is there?

The narration is stunning.  Julia Franklin brings each character to life with their own unique voice; I am so impressed as it sounds like each character is actually speaking and each voice is so consistent that I could recognise who was speaking.  Julia Franklin's talent is astonishing, although I have to say that her own voice is so soothing that I couldn't listen to the audiobook in bed as I kept dropping off to sleep before the chapter ended.

Bella Osborne is an author who is new to me but I'll definitely be looking out for more of her books.  There's an exquisite line in The Girls that describes the glinting light on the sea as being like paparazzi flashes and I just thought that was so beautiful and fitting for the story.

The Girls is poignant, heartwarming and surprisingly thought-provoking.  I'm going to miss the girls terribly, now that I have finished listening to the audiobook.

The Girls is narrated by Julia Franklin and is out on 1st May on Audible and other trade download platforms, on the digital library platform ulibrary, and on physical CD and MP3 both in libraries and from the website The Reading House:

I chose to listen to an audiobook received from the publisher; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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