The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble

The Girl Next Door follows a variety of characters who live in one apartment block. There is Eve and Ed, who have recently moved to New York after Ed gets transferred in his job. Eve is struggling with living in a new country and with her husband being constantly away, can she get to grips with this new life? Jason is far from happy with his life – ever since the birth of his baby, his wife Kim has shut him out. Plus, it doesn’t help that he is lusting after his beautiful and talented neighbour, Rachel. The story also follows Jackson and his attempt to woo his neighbour Emily, and other characters.

What is a massive failure in this book is that there are too many characters and stories in this book to keep track of. The book starts with a list of characters, half of whom aren’t even referred to in the story anyway. Yet there are a good deal of characters left with many stories to follow, not all of them interesting – I found the stories of Rachel, Jason and Charlotte dull, and I frequently found myself skipping the sections with Violet in. I was gripped by the storyline featuring Jackson trying to prove himself to Emily that he was a good person, and the story between Eve and Ed, which was an emotional one, especially with the premature baby storyline. This was really sad to read and made you feel for Eve and Ed.

Overall, I think Noble’s work suffers from trying to achieve too much in one novel. If she cut down the amount of characters and stories, then she may have had a great piece of literature to read, especially as some of the stories were excellent. It is an interesting and ambitious concept to focus on so many people, but something like this can be achieved such as in 31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell, where attention is focused on 2 main characters but also the stories of the numerous supporting characters. Here Noble tries to pay equal attention to all of the characters but it doesn’t work. Charlotte’s story hits the ground before it starts running – is it necessary to include her? 2.5 stars.

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