Book Review: TANGERINE by Christine Mangan

Tangerine

“It takes three men to pull the body from the water”

That’s how TANGERINE, the gripping and disturbing novel by Christine Mangan, starts. We are in Tangier, Morocco, in the 1950s. Alice Shipley has moved from England with her husband John. But Alice hasn’t adjusted to life in Morocco and she finds Tangier, its hot weather, and its people suffocating so she spends most of her time indoors, while her husband is out having fun on his own using the money from her trust fund. The other protagonist of the story is Lucy Mason. She was Alice’s roommates when they both went to Bennington, in Vermont. They were best friends, almost sisters, until the accident happened (I am not giving away what the accident was but it is hinted at often and then fully revealed). Lucy arrives in Tangier looking for Alice, to restart their friendship, but Alice is distant and you can’t say she welcomes her with open arms.

The story is told by both Alice and Lucy’s points of view and it is fascinating to see them through each other’s eyes. Through a few flashbacks, we have a few details of their relationship in college, we see how Lucy and Alice first met, how Lucy saw Alice as a sophisticated wealthy girl, while, for Alice, Lucy was the carefree and mature friend.

It was infuriating watching Alice and Lucy’s relationship as one takes advantage of the other and seeing their disturbing friendship evolve. Alice is anxious, isolated, and too dependent on other people. Lucy, instead, is manipulative and resourceful and she is ready to do anything to get what she wants.

The exotic setting is very enchanting and atmospheric. In the background, there are the riots for the independence of the country from France and the city of Tangier is a character in itself of the novel with its markets, its clubs, its loud and busy streets that make Alice anxious and Lucy thrive.

I would like to thank Hayley Camis and Little, Brown for giving me the chance to read TANGERINE, I was completely engrossed from the first to the last page. Full of suspense and with a brilliant ending to close Alice and Lucy’ story, it is an addictive and superb novel about toxic relationships, obsession, and mental health and it’s out now.

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