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Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise that lost me by the end, 17 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Kiss Me First (Hardcover)
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'It was a Friday night, about nine weeks into the project.'

Lottie Moggach's debut novel starts with the 'final conversation' her narrator Leila has with Tess. The novel then timeshifts forward to August 2011 where Leila is in Spanish commune searching for Tess. In the earlier narrative thread we learn Leila lost her mother to MS and through an internet forum takes on the absurdist task of continuing the online life of someone who wants to commit suicide. That person is Tess. We know from the 2011 narrative that police are involved and that Leila is searching for Tess who she thought had committed suicide. The success of the novel then depends on Moggach being able to keep juggling those emerging and seemingly conflicting stories and in keeping us interested in the outcome.

The novel was clearly seen as hitting the zeitgeist by the publishing community and was the focus of a bidding war. The prize of finding the next pyschological thriller to catch the public imagination must be large, but to my mind this isn't it. The sense of danger of a thriller needs isn't really there and the psychological aspects are not fully convincing. Much of the pull of the novel is expected to come from the reader being able to interpret differently what our unreliable narrator is telling in the manner of Notes on a Scandal but I found this patchy. We presume Leila is on the autistic spectrum from her awkward lists of questions for Tess and from her inability to read social situations, yet she is able to adopt Tess's flirty online tone with ease and her flatmate Jonty, himself a cipher helps her social integration later. I was intrigued by the puzzle and found it compelling at times but felt tighter editing might have helped keep my interest through some very slow patches. I was unconvinced by the end.

The novel is keen to explore themes of identity. The persona that can be displayed to the work through social networking or the virtual life that can be lived on the internet, playing World of Witchcraft or in philosophy forums and in Facebook likes is examined with wit and precision. Moggach is very good at these small moments of sharp observation.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Oct 2013 20:49:37 GMT
I'm pleased to see you too got the whiff of Barbara in Notes on a Scandal. I wrote my review without looking at any others, I always do, and was glad to see the same book pop out of your paragraphs. Leila is on the autistic spectrum I suppose but I liked her and hoped she's be safe. The hints of police involvement worried me. Part way through the book I felt sick of it which is why I only gave 4 stars but I thought it gathered pace again and so excused that banging on rather bit.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Oct 2013 11:35:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Nov 2013 14:18:11 GMT
Purpleheart says:
Hi.

Yes, I thought Notes on a Scandal was in mind. As I said, I thought the premise was great but felt she lost control of her material in the end and removed much of the sense of danger. I'll read her next one though
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