The Girl in Times Square

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The Girl in Times Square By Paullina SimonsIn the past, I have read a few books written by Paullina Simons and have always enjoyed them, and always been impressed by how diverse in nature and content they have been from one another. However, I had not read any of her books for a few years when I came across ‘The Girl in Times Square‘. The back cover blurb intrigued me and it did seem well acclaimed by the critics. In fact, one quote from Company Magazine said ‘Read it and weep – literally!’ Now this did have me a little concerned – firstly because there are many books which literally do have me weeping and I have to be very careful where I read them (It’s a bit embarrassing to be seen sobbing into your book during a train journey surrounded by strangers!) and secondly, that was a huge expectation for the book to live up to and there was a danger of being left disappointed. This was really not the case though as this book definitely delivered on all fronts.

I have to admit that I did not really enjoy the first few chapters though and found it very difficult to get into. I found Paullina Simon’s style a bit too enigmatic as normally I like a few signposts pointing the way the novel is going. The story was moving between New York and Hawaii, and I was uncertain as to whom some of the characters were and how they all related to each other. However, I have to say that about thirty pages in I was really hooked.

Now, I’m going to try and give a feel for the book without giving too much away. It is a complex and engrossing story though and best read I should think when you have a bit of time and are not too tired. At six hundred pages though, you do need to be prepared for a bit of a long haul!

“By the time you finish the book, you feel as if you have been on a real emotional roller-coaster of a journey.”

So what type of story is it? Well there are elements of a crime/ detective novel. A young girl, Amy McFaddon, has gone missing and it is down to Detective Spencer O’Malley to attempt to find her. There are also elements of romance when O’Malley and Amy’s flatmate Lily are drawn to each other, much to the consternation of Lily’s family! There is also tremendous joy and sadness as fate intervenes in Lily’s life in order to change things forever for her. Alongside this there is some political intrigue, true friendship but also betrayal, good old family drama, and some sinister overtones concerning more unusual religious practices. Maybe, from what I have said, it seems like it is too much a mish – mash of too many ideas, but believe me it works, and I do feel that Simons interweaves all the threads of the story very skilfully.

Also through Lily’s family, a lot of issues are addressed. Lily’s grandmother is a polish war survivor and also an agoraphobic; her mother is an alcoholic; her father is in denial about his wife’s addiction, and her sisters and brother all have complications within their lives too. It is really intriguing to watch how they function (or dysfunction) as a family. All of these issues are written about and dealt with sympathetically.

Most endearing of all though, is the relationship between Lily and Spencer. As I was reading the book, I found myself drawn more and more to these two characters, caring more and more about what happened to them. I almost felt as if I knew them personally by the end. There’s is not a conventional love affair for many reasons which I won’t reveal here so as not to spoil the plot, but the way their romance evolves is very sweet and poignant, and I defy most readers not to feel the tears welling.

By the time you finish the book, you feel as if you have been on a real emotional roller-coaster of a journey. I have to admit that I felt quite wrecked by the end, but this type of read also has a very therapeutic feel about it – you almost feel cleansed. And going back to that quote from Company – yes, I did read it and weep!

And I know it’s only fiction, but by living through all the events with Lily and Spencer, it does tend to put one’s own life in perspective.

So I’m not going to tell you whether they found the girl; I’m not going to tell you whether Lily’s grandmother ever left the house; I’m not going to tell you whether Lily’s mother was still drinking; and I’m Definitely NOT going to tell you whether Lily and Spencer lived happily ever after! But I do recommend that you read the book and find out!


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Girl in Times Square (The)
by Paullina Simons

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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