By Jane Green
Published April 2022
I’ve been a fan of Jane Green for a long time so when I saw she had a historical fiction novel out, I jumped on it.
The primary character is Claire, raised in a small town in England, who finds herself on her own in London at the tender age of 17. This is London in 1967, a time when the sixties counterculture is blooming, Mick Jagger is just becoming a big name, and everyone is ready to throw off the conservative shackles of the 1950s. Even though she’s always been shy, Claire dreams of living the life of freedom and no consequences that she sees around her.
All it takes is meeting the right person, and suddenly Claire is en route to Marrakesh with a rock band, staying in the mansion of Paul and Talitha Getty. She quickly befriends Talitha and is swept up in days and nights of uninhibited love and drugs with a freedom she’d only dreamed of, rubbing shoulders and partying with famous musicians and designers. But this lifestyle has a dark side; one that could destroy the unwary.
I really liked parts of this book. Marrakesh is vividly portrayed and the author didn’t pull any punches with the darkness inherent in the 1960s free love and drug culture. Claire is an interesting character, given that she’s thrown into a life she thinks she wants but has no experience with. I appreciated her perspective, but that’s also where I wanted more.
I’m unsure if the book was supposed to be about Claire or Talitha. From reviews and the book jacket, I’m pretty sure the author wanted to spotlight Talitha, yet we only see her through Claire’s eyes. And because of that focus, nothing that happens seems to affect Claire very much. She comes off as simply the witness to someone else’s story.
Given that the book begins with a prologue when Claire is middle-aged and then flashes back to recount her earlier life, I’d expected her time in Marrakesh to have had more impact on how her life evolved. But it didn’t. She goes to Morocco, things happen to her there (some of which I’d expected to really alter her perception, yet they didn’t but I can’t go into here because – spoilers), but nothing seemed to have made a truly lasting impression on her. So how impactful was Talitha on Claire’s life? Not much, by my reckoning. Nor does the author delve deeply into her life with her husband or family, even though they were pivotal to the prologue. This novel provided a riveting look at a period when the protagonist was coming of age, but without any lasting impact on her life, it seemed a little pointless.
So while I’ll continue to read forthcoming novels from Jane Green, this one doesn’t make my top five.
I rated this novel 3 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Until next time, thank you for visiting.