Helen Owen and Malcolm Taylor are a married couple in their seventies who are both highly respected authors. Literary giants, in fact, who've spent their whole lives crafting their reputations and winning accolades.
For her latest masterpiece Helen has received a massive advance payment, which she's already spent. And now there's a big, hairy problem: Malcolm's appalled by what Helen has written. To publish it, he believes, would be the death knell not just for her reputation but maybe even their marriage.
Onto their London doorstep arrives Amy Winston, who's been sent by her publishing firm to get Helen to hand over her manuscript. Amy is a young, beautiful and talented book editor who jumped several rungs of the publishing world ladder in a single bound after turning a humdrum thriller into an international bestseller. She's also a champagne-soaked shagger with a large streak of self-loathing.
The trio find themselves in a catch-22 position as it becomes clear that whichever way they move – to publish or not to publish – will result in ruin.
Hilarious, smart, playful and dark, Purcell has managed to combine the best aspects of modern literature with the pace of a thriller, full of scandal, shock twists and an extremely surprising and gut-wrenching finale, but at the same time layered with emotional depth and complexity.
It's also something of a love letter to books and writing with lots of publishing in-jokes. Even the name of the book itself is a cheeky reference to the proliferation of books with "The Girl" in the title.
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