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The Girl Who Just Appeared Paperback – 17 Jul 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (17 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144723846X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447238461
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Girl Who Just Appeared is a wonderful book - gripping and twisty and tender and touching. (Marian Keyes)

Harvey makes me SCREAM. (Caitlin Moran)

Absolutely delightful. Jonathan Harvey writes with all his heart and all his soul. (Lisa Jewell)

Harvey is a star writer... His third novel is very funny, as one might expect from such a brilliant writer of comedy - but it shows that he can also handle sadness and tragedy, plus a narrative that cuts effortlessly between present-day London and Liverpool in 1981... Sparkling and moving. (The Times)

Wit and warmth. (Sunday Mirror)

Sensitive, moving, yet fabulously entertaining and laced with humour. (Daily Express)

A warm, witty tale about personal history and accepting the truth about your family - however, unexpected it may turn out to be. (Heat)

From the Back Cover

London - the present

Holly Smith has never fitted in. Adopted when just a few months old, she's always felt she was someone with no history. All she has is the address of where she was born - 32B Gambier Terrace, Liverpool. When Holly discovers that the flat is available to rent, she travels north and moves in. And in the very same flat, under the floorboards, she finds a biscuit tin full of yellowing papers. Could these papers be the key to her past?

Liverpool - 1981

Fifteen-year-old Darren is negotiating life with his errant mother and the younger brother he is raising. When the Toxteth Riots explode around him, Darren finds himself with a moral dilemma that will have consequences for the rest of his life.

Moving between the past and the present, Darren and Holly's lives become intertwined. Will finding Darren give Holly the answers she craves? Or will she always feel like the girl who just appeared?

Praise for Jonathan Harvey

'I knew Jonathan Harvey could make me laugh. I didn't expect him to make me cry too' Jojo Moyes

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lincs Reader TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
Holly Smith doesn't really like her life. She feels as though it's been a non-event, she can't even decide who would play her in a film of her life. Holly was adopted, her parents were older than all the others at the school gates, she didn't have much of a relationship with them.

She doesn't have much of a relationship with her boyfriend Jude either, and her boss is an absolute nightmare. When her adoptive mother dies, Holly does something unexpected. She's kept that scrap of paper with her birth mother's name and address for many years .... she's finally going to do something about it, she's going to discover who she really is.

Boyfriend dumped. Boss slapped, house-share terminated. Holly takes the train to Gambier Terrace, Liverpool, determined that she will, at last, find out who she really is.

When Holly discovers an old tin, full of yellowing papers, the story really starts to begin, and the reader is taken back to 1981 when Liverpool is in the grip of the Toxteth riots.

I really enjoy dual time narrative, as long as they are done well, and Jonathan Harvey has pulled this technique off so well in The Girl Who Just Appeared. The story unfolds and flits between the present day and 1981 seamlessly, engaging the reader in both aspects.

Jonathan Harvey writes with a sharp wit, sometimes smutty humour and great warmth. His affection for his home city of Liverpool shines though, and although I'm not familiar with the streets of that city, he really does manage to bring the place alive.

There are some serious subjects, and some poignant moments in this story, and it would be easy to trivialise these with humour, but instead, Jonathan Harvey manages to avoid this with characters and dialogue that really work so well.

Very different to my usual read, but nonetheless, very enjoyable. Well written, warm and funny.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Agi on 28 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I have lately read an interview with an author, I think it was Jodi Picoult who said that the most important thing in the book is the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page of the story, that it must be like a tornado that carry away the reader. Well, it was absolutely the case with The Girl who Just Appeared. I have read the first sentence and couldn't wait for the next, and next, and next, it had me hooked from the get - go and kept my attention and interest through the whole book.

I have smiled at the first sentence already and kept smiling or laughing out loud through the whole book, but also have dropped a few tears. This is a bitter - sweet book, sad - funny book and a wonderful read. Poignant and touching.

Holly has just buried her mother and with her father already gone and no siblings she's now alone. As she knows she was adopted, she decides to start searching for her biological mother. She has some information, her name and address where she was born, and totally unexpectedly she finds herself renting THE flat. Flat when she was born. It means she must move from London to Liverpool, leaving her job as a PA to a very moody and mean diva. In the flat Holly discovers a diary which belonged to a teenager Darren. He describes his life in this flat, his family: mother who was a prostitute and younger brother. After reading the whole diary, Holly decides that she's Darren sister. Through her new landlady Rose, who knows her biological mother, she get to know her as well and only learn that she's at care home with Alzheimer and so is of no help. But is this the whole true? Did Holly really find her family?

Of course while reading I was guessing, and you will be too, for sure, whirring your mind trying to string the facts together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Taggart on 20 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback
Having read all of the previous reviews which raved about this novel I feel I must be on a different planet to Harvey's usual readership. I wanted to like this book and dragged myself through it right to the end hoping that there would be some redeeming features- but alas not. In my opinion there was not one single character who seemed to be believable: the zany employer, the infantile boyfriend, the extremely abusive mother, neighbours who were psychic and "wannabe" reality TV stars or obscenely overweight and confined to their flat, the seedy "Irish", the orange Air Steward, hippy Iggy, callous adoptive mother....the list just goes on. All of these characters were caricatures and when placed into ludicrous situations and forced to interact with each other the whole plot became utterly ludicrous. I found it impossible to believe in any of these characters and as a result Harvey's weak attempt to address some very serious topics (parenting, child abuse, gender identity) failed miserably. The author does have a sense of humour so I wonder why he does not stick to comedy and slapstick and leave the moral issues, which he handles so badly, to a writer with greater awareness and sensitivity? To create a cast of shallow stereotypes, place them in absurd situations and force them to deal with serious issues, hoping the result is a coherent and insightful novel was never going to succeed. Sadly, a truly terrible mix which insulted the reader's intelligence.
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Format: Paperback
After her adoptive parents die, Holly decides to search for her birth mother. All she knows is the name, and address that were featured on her birth certificate.

When the flat that she was born in becomes available to rent, Holly drops everything in London to move to Liverpool, in the hope she can do some digging and find her birth mum.

Within a couple of days in Liverpool, she finds Darren's diary.

The book then switches between the diary set in Liverpool in the 80's, written by a very uneducated young boy (if you like correct spelling and punctuation, beware there isn't any in the diary sections), and present day with Holly search.

The plot moves at a fast pace and it was a good story, that although I had pre-thought ideas after reading the blurb, this broke all of them and surprised me constantly.
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