Author: Lia Weston
Those Pleasant Girls is the second novel by Adelaide author Lia Weston and, for locals, she is launching the book at Dymocks in Rundle Mall on May 7, more details are available on the Dymocks Facebook page.
The blurb was intriguing and I thought this would be a book that I really loved, unfortunately I wasn’t fond of the leading lady. By the end of chapter 4 I despaired that the book would drag because I couldn’t warm to Evie. I had a feeling that she would be redeemable but I had trouble connecting with her.
Evie Pleasant will always be Evie Bouvier to the residents of Sweet Meadow, where their memories are long for the mischief a young Evie was involved in. In the wake of divorce and facing poverty until the settlement is finalised Evie returns to Sweet Meadow with her reluctant teen daughter Mary. She has completely changed her image and promised herself ‘No Drinking, No Swearing, No Stealing, No Fires’ which is quite telling about the sort of teen she was before she left town.
Sweet Meadow is a small town that is getting tired and dying off. It’s a far cry from the city life Evie became accustomed to, there isn’t even a homewares store in town and all the business owners remember her well so there’s not much chance of employment. Evie is a completely new woman, modeled on the perfection of 50s housewives, but it doesn’t take long for the cracks to start showing in her new facade.
Joy Piece moved to town after Evie left and she has plans to bring life back to the town, but they don’t include keeping the small town feel and charm. The two clash from the beginning and I think a lot of that is because Joy wants to change everything and take it into the future but Evie returned to town to go back in time and pick up where she left off, with her childhood sweetheart/best friend not the hell-raising.
Evie came back to seduce her childhood partner in crime, some social media stalking tells her that he’s still single but he’s also the town pastor. Evie doesn’t let that stop her, he’s still able to marry.
I was turned off by Evie’s single mindedness, and her total denial of who she was. She was determined to get what she wanted regardless of anything else or what anyone else wanted and I think I would have been okay with that if she had been true to herself or shown any actual emotional attachment.
Mary on the other hand was a character that I did connect with, sixteen years old and moved away from everything she knows, away from her Dad and not at all happy with the situation. Making friends never came that easy so starting a new school in year twelve is not an easy task. She’s a little gothic and a lover of books and gardening. She had me until the gardening – I am far from a green thumb.
Starting at a new school can be hard at the best of times and Mary is very different to the students of Sweet Meadow which only makes it harder. She manages to make a couple of friends and ends up settling in well but there is still a lot of the usual teen angst and heartbreak. It was well written and easily relatable.
Those Pleasant Girls is quite an entertaining read that I did end up really enjoying, but I never quite warmed to Evie. She did some wonderful things for the town, but she also allowed the facade to slip and the real Evie to slip out and it wasn’t until the last couple of chapters that she recognised how much she had ignored in her quest. She was redeemed in the end but I think it was a little late for me. Even before she was redeemed I could understand her motivations, but I couldn’t agree with them. I’m sure some people will love her, but she wasn’t for me.
There was a lot to love about Those Pleasant Girls and I quite enjoyed the interactions and the secondary characters. Some of the characters were a little over the top and caricature like but they were fun. I found this to be an interesting and light read that went really quickly. The growth of the lead characters was good but there wasn’t a lot of exploration of the secondary characters which made it hard to really get to know them.
Thanks to Pan Macmillan we have 5 copies of Those Pleasant Girls to giveaway to readers. So for your chance to win please tell us in the comments below about your most mischievous teen antics.
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