ARC Review – The Girls by Bella Osborne

I have been a fan of Bella Osborne’s writing since finding her via Twitter and reviewing Meet Me at Pebble Beach.  Since then, I think I’ve been fortunate to receive digital ARC editions of each of her new releases.  You can see a couple of my previous reviews in these links The Library and The Promise of Summer.  These two books are wildly different, and The Girls is once again a new direction for Bella.

I am grateful to Aria Fiction for the digital ARC, which was gifted to me, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  You can read my thoughts below.

Synopsis

Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

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?

Published on 14th April 2022 in Paperback, Kindle, Audio CD, and Audiobook.

Review

I was pre-warned that this book was another change in style, for Bella Osborne, but I knew I was in for a treat because I’ve loved all of her previous books, particularly The Library.  I’m not yet in the same age bracket as the girls in the story, but I’m closer than I am to my teens!  I found the format to be reminiscent of the fabulous TV series, The Golden Girls, not that there is any other similarity other than the basic format.

As the synopsis explains, Zara, Val, Jackie and Pauline are poles apart in character, but their friendship was based on their house share experience in the 1970s.  Although they only lived together for a few years, the friendship was a great foundation that served them well when Zara decided that they should all move into her luxury home and recapture their distant youth.  That is where the similarity ends, and this story begins.

I did pick a favourite and would defy anyone not to do the same.  For me, it was Pauline.  She had led such an unsatisfactory life.  Her marriage was to a bully, and she had remained childless and was, quite frankly, wondering why she was still alive.  Bella Osborne introduced Pauline in a way that was impossible not to be drawn to.  I was immediately aligned with her and wanted her to find happiness and a purpose.

Val and Jackie were polar opposites of each other, Val was an uptight former solicitor and Jackie was the eternal good-time girl.  Focussed on finding herself a wealthy millionaire, Jackie was somewhat unlikeable, but I still enjoyed her story.  Val was hiding a secret, but for the avoidance of spoilers, I will say no more.

This is a joyful, uplifting book that certainly takes a good look at the challenges faced by ageing women.  Not just menopause but the spectre of loneliness and failing health.  There are no holds barred as delicate subjects are examined and this group of women find themselves navigating their ways through a decidedly messy situation. There are, of course, male characters, but they appear in supporting roles and even include a cat and a parrot. 

As I reached the closing pages, I was sad to say goodbye to this lovely group of friends; I know that their stories will stay with me for a long time to come.

Author Bio

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written seven best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website at http://www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on social media.

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