Friday, February 28, 2020

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

How far would someone go to replace you? A new mother on maternity leave grows increasingly paranoid about her ambitious young temp in this Hitchcockian debut from the fashion editor at The Times (UK) .

Margot is the object of every woman's envy: as an editor at Haute, she has a glamorous job, a beautiful new baby girl, a seemingly perfect life. But when Margot's lifelong friend, Winnie, loses her own newborn boy, their shared dream of pushing strollers together turns to ash. And then there is the matter of Margot's maternity temp: bright, plucky, ambitious Maggie--the young woman Margot chose, but who now seems to be trying to eclipse her in every possible way.

When a cyber-stalker emerges, mocking Margot's fa├žade of perfection and threatening to expose a dark secret she's spent years repressing, Margot feels attacked from all sides. Soon, the innocent preoccupations of motherhood spiral quickly--and perhaps lethally--into a frightening and irretrievable paranoia.

The New Girl is whiplash-paced, and a harrowing look into the profound sense of insecurity that prowls deep in the psyches of women everywhere.

Title: The New Girl
Author: Harriet Walker
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Pages: 304
ISBN: 1984819976

The New Girl by Harriet Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The New Girl by Harriet Walker explores one woman’s fear and insecurities, another’s grief, and the secret that binds them together. It’s a complex look at the relationship between women and those around them. There’s a lot going on in this book, Margot, the fashion editor of a popular magazine appears to have it all; she’s always impeccably dressed in all the top fashions, attends every show with only the best VIP seating, and is coolly aloof. Perfect in every way. At least to the outside eye. But when she becomes pregnant and has to find her replacement while on maternity leave, she chooses Maggie, a ‘provincial’ funny girl who always seems one step away from a major gaffe or an embarrassing stain on her shirt. Certainly, she won’t be a threat, right? But this all changes when Maggie begins to develop a sense of self-confidence and her true self shines through, suddenly, everyone loves Maggie and to a threatened Margot, Maggie is loved more than her. Is Maggie gunning to oust Margot from her coveted job?
Margot and her best friend from childhood, Winnie, are pregnant together and couldn’t be more excited to share this journey together. When the unthinkable happens, their worlds fall apart and some seriously messed up things start to happen.

The New Girl really shines the light on the power of social media and the power we’ve given it over our lives. Stalkers following our every move, plotting when to ‘bump’ into us ALA You but Ms. Walker cleverly turns it around and shows how the average viewer of social media can let it affect our own sense of self and what we take away from a simple photo. Whole stories can be made from one single photo, depending on the viewer and their frame of mind, keeping in mind that adults are just as susceptible to online bullying and self-esteem issues as our younger counter-parts.

The tension builds slowly at first, setting up well-layered and beautifully flawed characters and then kept me engaged and on edge until the last page. This is a must read for those that love the genre, like myself, and for those that love the challenge of thinking they can figure out the who-dunnit before the end of the book. I betcha can’t!

A big thank you to Random House Publishing Group – Ballentine, Harriet Walker, and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The New Girl in exchange for my honest review.

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