I’m back with another truly gripping novel! This week’s pick is NOT a light read – it’s a tale of psychological suspense. And my lovely UK readers – this one you won’t have to wait for, as this is the UK version! (No fears, my lovely fellow Yanks – there’s a version for us, too.) I’m really anxious to talk about Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt!
This book has been compared to “Gone Girl” and “Girl on a Train”. I think the only similarity between these books (aside from the words “Girl” and “Gone” in the title) is the use of the unreliable narrator; suffering from amnesia, Estelle Paradise is just that. The pacing of Little Girl Gone is different from the other two, and needs to be read without comparison to the others and judged on its own merits – this is not a fast-paced book.
No, this book moves quite deliberately and develops at its own pace. The tension and the anxiety is palpable, and I just didn’t know what I thought about Estelle.
Estelle wakes up in the hospital to discover that she has been in a car accident, has lost an ear to a gunshot wound and is suffering amnesia. Her first thought is “Where is Mia?” – her 7-month old baby – and it turns out, it is a question she cannot answer due to the amnesia. She is told that one morning she woke up to find Mia missing – in fact, all of her things, her clothes, baby bottles, diapers and the like are gone – and we learn that her response to the discovery was not the expected one.
Did Estelle kill her own baby?
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the longer Mia’s colic and constant crying lasts, the deeper Estelle sinks into postpartum depression. Her descent is gripping, and my infuriation with her husband James (who is clueless to the extent of her condition) grows. In money trouble, her husband takes a job in Chicago and moves Estelle and the baby to a brownstone he owns that is under construction, which adds to the stress she is feeling.
There are a few quite unexpected twists in this one before we get the answers we – right along with Estelle – are waiting for…and you’ll have to read the rest as I’m not giving a thing away.
This is a psychological thriller and more about the recovery of Estelle’s memories than the loss of Mia, so it doesn’t move quickly. At the beginning, I felt a lot of frustration with Estelle AND her husband Jack, who was a pretty unlikable character and struck me as callous. But as the story progressed and the depths of her affliction became more apparent, I found that author Burt had wrapped me around her finger as I found myself pulled deeper to this very real character she has created.
For anyone who has suffered postpartum depression, this book might touch a lot of tender spots, but it is entirely worth the read. Just prepare to feel a wee bit wrung out at the end.
Little Girl Gone was written by Alexandra Burt and published by Avon-Harper Collins UK, and is available on Amazon.co.uk. (In the US, this has been published under the name Remember Mia and is available on Amazon.com.) Alexandra Burt can be found on Twitter as @alexandraburt, on Facebook, and on her website at www.alexandraburt.com.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Avon-Harper Collins UK, who provided me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts and typos are my own, but only the books I really like make it on my blog.