That Green Eyed Girl
By Julie Owen Moylan
What it’s about?
1955: In a cramped apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers, unable to reveal the truth about their relationship. They guard their private lives fiercely – until someone guesses their secret.
1975: Twenty years on, in the same apartment, Ava Winters is desperately trying to conceal her mother’s fragile mental state from the critical eyes of their neighbours. But, one sweltering July morning, Ava’s mother escapes.
Alone after her mother’s departure, Ava takes delivery of a parcel. The box is addressed only to ‘Apartment 3B’, and contains a photograph of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across her face.
Seeking refuge from her own crisis, Ava determines to track the owner of the photograph down. And, in so doing, discovers a shocking chain of kindnesses, lies and betrayals – with one woman at the centre of it all…
What I think:
I loved this book!
This is a heart-breaking love story with two interwoven time lines.
In 1975, Ava is lost and increasingly isolated. Her mother’s mental illness is getting worse and her father is hardly ever at home. It is July is the city, the heat is oppressive and the stench of uncollected gabage overwhelmes the streets. A parcel with no name is delivered from Paris to their apartment. Ava opens it and becomes obsessed with uncovering the story behind the contents.
Twenty years earlier Dovie and Gillian are living the same apartment. Both working as teachers in the city they have to hide their relationship, pretending to be friends and roommates rather than lovers.
Theirs is a relationship of opposites. At home they are cosy and intimate; listening to jazz, drinking whiskey and planning trips to Paris. But they are also fearful of being found out and ostracised at a time when women are sent to asylums for their “unnatural behaviour”.
When colleague, Judith, worms her way into their life and temporarily moves into their apartment, the tension increases and Dovie and Gillian have to fight for their relationship.
This is such an atmospheric book full of tension that is amplified by the small city apartments and summer heat.
Ava’s journey to uncover the the story of Dovie and Gillian reveals some truths about her own mother that may help her understand her more. Ava’s own loneliness is mirrored in Dovie’s letters and despite the 20 years difference they both live in times when reputations can be ruined by rumours and spite.
The 1950s chapters are by Dovie who is both desperate to please and longing for freedom. Her dream of life in Paris where she can live openly with Gillian is constantly at odds with her need to keep people happy. Judith is obnoxious and manipulative and definitely a character that you will love to hate. The extent of her manipulation is gradually revealed.
This is a beautifully written book. The characters and their stories will stat will you long after the last page.
Thank you to Penguin Michael Joseph for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful blog tour and for my gifted copy of the book.