The often-used trope of women on getaway together and someone disappears/is murdered/becomes murderous, has a fresh spin in the new novel by Lucy Foley, One Of The Girls. Lexi is getting married to Ed and her best friend, the chaotic Bella, has organized a Hen Party in Greece, at an isolated villa in the fictional town of Aegos. Included in these plans are Fen, Bella’s girlfriend, who is questioning her relationship with Bella, Robyn, a new mother, who has been Lexi and Bella’s best friend since school days, Eleanor, Lexi’s future sister-in-law, who is recovering from the sudden death of her fiancé, and Ana, Lexi’s yoga student, who is harboring big secrets of her own that will turn the hen party upside down. The beautiful villa they are staying in sits on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean and beach, with nothing else remotely close by. Sun, cobblestone streets, white-washed villas and turquoise seas complete the picture of an envious hen party. What could go wrong?
One of The Girls is told from the viewpoint of each woman at the party. They are third-person accounts, but often the narrator is unidentified, creating the mystery that drives the story forward. None of the women are particularly likable or even reliable as narrators. Bella, Lexi’s oldest friend, is completely toxic and a bully, and it left the reader to wonder what her redeeming factors are. Eleanor, the schlumpy sister of Ed, Lexi’s fiancé, is bitter and clearly not happy to be there. It would have made more sense if the group was in their early twenties rather than thirties, as each one of them was more immature than the next. I hoped to connect with one of them, but even Lexi, with her doormat personality, became increasingly annoying. Fen, the most likable, was holding on to one sentence a stranger said to her many years ago, and spent the week in fear she would run into him. One reader stated there is a pro-female, anti-male sentiment throughout the book, and I agree with this. With a man who wants no contact with his child to a cheating husband to the stranger who said a mean thing to Fen, it is easy to get that anti-male sentiment. However, I wouldn’t view this as pro-female because every one of these women has issues they have not dealt with. As the reader, I often wanted to reach into the book and shake these women.
While the characters are difficult to like, I enjoyed the progression of this book. We know at the beginning that someone dies, and while I thought I knew who it was, I was actually very surprised at the ending. The tension in the book is delicious and the descriptions of Greece are breathtaking. Even though the women were a mess, this was an envious hen party!