Book Review: Tangerine – Christine Mangan

tangerine

About The Book

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends – once inseparable roommates – haven’t spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right.

Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice – she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is an extraordinary debut, so tightly wound, so evocative of 1950s Tangier, and so cleverly plotted that it will leave you absolutely breathless.

My Review

Tangerine is an old-school, suspense filled thriller which oozes sophistication. Set in Tangier, it tells the story of Alice, recently married to John, and her friend Lucy who  unexpectedly arrives to visit her. There is some tension between the two women; Alice isn’t the same woman she was when she and Lucy were roommates and Alice seems wary of Lucy. Told in flashback with alternate chapters narrated by both women, the tension is slowly built; what happened, what will happen, who should we trust?

This is an evocative and clever novel, it doesn’t have cheap thrills or ludicrous twists – it is clever, compelling storytelling. The setting of Tangier is written wonderfully well, the markets, tea houses and oppressive heat all work with the plot to increase the tension. Alice is ensconced in her flat, she is nervy, anxious and largely alone whilst her new husband works his way through her inheritance in the bars and clubs of Tangier.  Outgoing and exuberant Lucy encourages Alice to leave her self-imposed exile and to embrace Tangier – but why is she there and why is Alice so fearful?

There is a secret at the heart of the novel, one which is alluded to by both Alice and Lucy and we skirt around the edges of it. There are hints both in the present and the past, the flashbacks allowing us to see the power-play between the two women and the female friendship is closely (And excellently) examined. This is a complex and multi-layered relationship which veers from sisterly to toxic and everything in between. Christine Mangan writes about the complicated relationship incredibly well; the initial meet where two women become immediate confidants, the gradual reliance on one another, the slow-drip feed of unease as things are maybe not quite as they seem and the mounting horror at the unstoppable. This all combines to build a sophisticated novel which is a page-turner.

Tangerine is reminiscent of Du Maurier and is a Hitchcock-esque novel, dark deeds, mistrust, madness and unreliable narrators make Tangerine an absorbing and compelling read. It is the perfect book to read in one-sitting whilst lounging on a sun-lounger cocktail in hand and I highly recommend it if well-plotted literary thrillers are your thing.

My thanks to Little, Brown for asking me to read a copy of Tangerine in return for an honest review. I found it an absorbing read which really piqued my interest and I will be looking out for more by Christine Mangan.

Tangerine was published on the 22nd March by Little, Brown and can be bought here.

 

 

 

 

 

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