book review: new girl

New GirlNew Girl by Paige Harbison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

{this review contains spoilers about both it, and the book Rebecca}

Mixed feelings about this book, so a 3-3.5 star for me. I love love love Rebecca, which this is a re-imagining of. I will read anything that remotely resembles Rebecca. It itself is a tribute by Daphne Du Maurier to Jane Eyre, my favourite book of all time.

Where this book lost me was the setting of the story in high-school. I can see why the author would do it, it’s a gossipy, back-stabby, jealous story – that sort of stuff does happen in high-school more than elsewhere. But a lot of the original story, a lot of the relationships, were a bit more mature than I felt this book could capture. I’m not sure why college/uni age wasn’t used for this- it would have made some things a bit more believable. But that was my main gripe.

The other issue I had is the same issue I have with certain movie adaptations of Rebecca: they make Max(im) into an innocent man!! Wha-what?? The whole point of Rebecca, and one of the most intriguing character points, is that Max(im) is guilty. When I was a teenager and read Rebecca for the first time, that point kind of irked me- I was looking for a traditional romantic story, and romantic hero- Max(im) isn’t really a hero. But that’s what makes the original story so interesting (to me). So to cop out and imply that Becca was responsible for her own death was slightly disappointing when I read this re-imagining.

That said, this book wasn’t supposed to be a direct re-telling, and I appreciate that the author worked the plot and characters to suit her visualisation of the story. On its own, this was an entertaining and enjoyable book. I just had too much invested in the original to be able to enjoy it for its own sake ;)

One of the things I most enjoyed was the New Girl’s spunky attitude – she spoke up more for herself than The New Mrs DeWinter did in the other book. That was refreshing, and more modern. I also liked that the whole (Re)Becca’s illness thing didn’t play into the story, I thought that would have garnered more sympathy than the character deserved. The Mrs Danvers role – Danna – was done really nicely as well. She was defintely creepy (you are my sunshine??) and bordering on mentally unstable. Too bad she didn’t get the “burn down the house/school” scene in this book.

Max wasn’t as intriguing/enthralling to me as Maxim. He didn’t get a lot of page-time unfortunately, and I would have liked to read more about his interactions with the New Girl.

Overall, this was a fun read. If Paige Harbison writes any more re-imaginings of stories I love, I’d definitely check them out.

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