First there was chick-lit, then came clit-lit. Now we’ve got grip-lit. Since the publishing phenomenon of Gone Girl/Girl on a Train, the floodgate of books about girls coming, going and gone to dark places has opened. There are literally dozens and we are drowning in a deluge of domestic noir. Granted there are subtle differences and some are better than others, but what these books have in common is The Jealous Woman. Women wanting each other’s husbands, hating their own husbands, hating their sisters, hating their best friends or hating their female bosses because they want their jobs. Which might turn them into murderers, or perhaps their husbands are already murderers? Or indeed their sisters, or their best friends, or…? But it’s hard to tell because they’re also liars with dark secrets who can’t be trusted. Or is it their husbands who can’t be trusted? Oh yes, and they have a drink problem, or they shag too much, or possibly don’t shag enough, or are in a coma. They are almost always narrated in the first person present – I feel so much more urgent and intense like this – and chapters flip between me and her; me and him; me, him and her; then and now; or now and then. Quite a lot of me, me, me and sometimes a missing child for an extra sprinkle of misery. It could be all of the above in a range of combinations. And a final twist, which is crucial obviously. Except when it’s not and that’s such a let down. The question is whether you can be arsed to wade through the grip-sand to get to the end and how to pick the gold from the dross? Not to worry, we’ve done it for you:
Our top five with a twist:
- The Girl Before by JP Delaney : A young couple hoping for a fresh start in a porn-gorgeous house in Spitalfields meet a sexy architect with very singular tastes. Creepy.
- Behind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough: A dishy doctor, his beautiful but brittle wife and their thoroughly enviable lifestyle. Then along comes his gorgeous PA: Horny, boozy and single. What could possibly go wrong?
- My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood: A war reporter may have PTSD from her time in Syria, but that’s nothing compared to her violent father, victim mother, drowned brother and alcoholic sister issues. A laugh a minute. Not.
- The Perfect Life by Sam Hepburn: While one woman has it all – the man, the daughter, the career and the des res – her new friend doesn’t. To die for?
- Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeny: The narrator is in a coma – locked-in and amnesiac to boot – so has to suffer in silence while bedside conversations between husband, sis and the ex discuss past, present and future. Awkward.