Book Review: Pretending by Holly Bourne

Pretending

I really enjoyed Holly Bourne’s first adult fiction (adult as in not YA, not as in porn!) How Do You Like Me Now – so when I saw her new novel on NetGalley, I requested an advance review copy – but my wish wasn’t granted until a couple of days before publication – but at least that means if you like the sound of it you can buy it now and not have to wait!

Here’s the blurb:

“He said he was looking for a ‘partner in crime’ which everyone knows is shorthand for ‘a woman who isn’t real’.

April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal – yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry.

If only April could be more like Gretel.

Gretel is exactly what men want – she’s a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.

The problem is, Gretel isn’t real. And April is now claiming to be her.

As soon as April starts ‘being’ Gretel, dating becomes much more fun – especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua.

Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?”

The main character in the story is April – and on the surface this looks like a normal ‘women’s fiction’ book – but this is not a tale of cupcakes, cushions and kittens – and should probably come with a trigger warning of the sexual abuse content.

April’s been ‘unlucky in love’ #crapphrase – but it soon becomes evident that there is a much darker element to this – and actually she was raped by a previous boyfriend. The description of rape and the aftermath is really moving – and thought provoking – it definitely made me stop and think.

Also, April works for a charity helpline – and so whilst she lives with the aftermath of what has happened to her all of the time, it’s also ignited more by triggering emails from people – on both side of the ‘abuse’ fence. It really made me think about such charities too – and what great work they do with so little funding.

Anyway – back to the book.  April decides that she is going to get ‘revenge’ on mankind by pretending to be ‘Gretel’ – the perfect girlfriend and the majority of the book follows this and her relationship with Joshua.

It is really well written – and the thread of the PTSD from her abuse whilst being fundamental – is only part of the storyline.  I really enjoyed April’s relationships with her flatmate Megan and her workmates.  There was also the start of relationships with women she met at an unusual support group – and I really enjoyed reading about that – but it felt like they weren’t really fleshed out during the book itself (but I hope April continued to build on their help and support after the book finished, in the fantasy world I create for characters once books have finished………….)

Overall I really enjoyed this thought provoking book, another good one from Holly Bourne.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.