Pretty Is… by Maggie Mitchell

‘Pretty Is…’ is an acutely observed multi-layered story told from different angles, and yet never quite revealing the full truth about the event which inspired it.
Two unrelated twelve year old girls, Lois and Carly-May, from completely separate lives, are abducted one summer by a stranger who they know only as Zed. Imprisoned together in a cabin in the woods, apparently untouched physically by their abductor, they are finally freed two months later.
We begin the novel years down the line with the two girls, Lois and the re-named Chloe, as adults, once again living separate lives, no longer in touch, but still sharing the bond they forged in the cabin years ago which continues to cast a shadow over their lives. Chole is now an actress and Lois is a teacher of Literature and aspiring author. Gradually we revisit through flashbacks the events of that summer they spent in the cabin in the woods, whilst simultaneously moving forward through their adults lives with the ripples of the past acting upon them.
It is a very psychological book explored through the thoughts and observations as narrated by Lois and Chloe. It also cleverly interweaves real events along with a fictional representation in the form of Lois’s book, and naturally followed up by a film script in which Carly is cast – thereby bringing the two women together once again.
The climax is suspenseful, partly because we are expectant and waiting and as we near the end, as readers we are waiting for something momentous to happen.
As a reader, I personally experienced an ‘oh yes of course!’ moment as the climax arrived in a manner which I hadn’t expected, but which made total sense!
Although a little confusing near the start due to all the name changes, in the end I did thoroughly enjoyed this book; well written, well developed and entirely readable.

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