If I were asked to sum up The Garnett Girls in three words I would say evocative, authentic and touching. The debut novel from Georgina Moore, this novel is a moving portrayal of the messy complexities of family. It is a compelling family saga which is rich and subtle in its power.
The Garnett Girls is the story of the charismatic Margo and her three grown up daughters; married, dependable but stilted Rachel; Imogen who is on the brink of world famous success as a playwright but is so fearful of being her true authentic self; and Sasha, confrontational, angry and growing more and more distant from her family. All three daughters feel emotionally trapped, trapped by the wants and ideals of their mother who is a true matriarch, and also the silence that haunts them, the silence that replaces their father walking out of the family when they were children. They are also emotionally stunted by the fall out of their father leaving which almost broke Margo.
Although Richard is mostly absent from the story, his presence and the passionate, fractured love he and Margo had for one another haunts every page. And believe me, I wanted to really hate Richard for breaking Margo’s heart and being so reckless with his family, but I couldn’t. Even though his departure and the fall out of his leaving had me in tears, I still felt moved and saddened by his story. I think this is one of the reasons why I found this novel so powerful as it holds a mirror up to how messy life is, how nothing is really black and white and how we are all flawed.
The intricate nature of family relationships skilfully drives this story along, especially the often complex relationship between mothers and daughters. Also explored is the convoluted relationship between sisters, how women view others in the world, especially those close to us, and how we often view ourselves. Sexuality, female empowerment, domestic abuse and so much more are also explored.
Set mainly on the Isle of Wight, the sense of setting is so evocative and vivid. I have never been to the Isle of Wight before but I really want to go now. Georgina Moore’s description is so beautiful and alluring. In the narrative Rachel finds the sense of community claustrophobic but I found it so seductive and full of warmth. Georgina wrote The Garnett Girls during lockdown. She and her family have a holiday houseboat there, and even though she couldn’t travel there physically during the endless months of lockdown, writing this captivating narrative was her way of travelling to her ‘happy place.‘ Her love and knowledge of the island is so evident throughout.
For months I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of The Garnett Girls, and when I did it definitely did not disappoint. I found it such a beautiful, thought provoking read that really touched me. Thank you Georgina Moore for inviting us to your ‘happy place’ through our imaginations and to the alluring world of the Garnett girls. Thank you also to Anne Cater for inviting me to the blog tour of this evocative read.
The Garnett Girls was released on 16 February 2023. To follow the blog tour please see below.