Book Review – ‘The Elephant Girl’ by Henriette Gyland ~ 5 Stars!
There is always something about Henriette Gyland’s writing style that draws me into her books, making me unable to stop reading until I get to the last page. It was like this with ‘Up Close’ and the same with ‘The Elephant Girl’ which was a wonderful, intense read that had me guessing right until the end.
One of the reasons that I loved this story is because of how realistic the characters are. The main characters instead of being portrayed as instantly likeable, are instead very real. They make choices that we as readers may or may not agree with and they have real issues, things that affect everyday people, and this I feel is what made me instantly connect to this story.
Similarly to Gyland’s debut novel ‘Up Close’, the prologue made the hairs on my arms stand up. With simple, yet powerful prose that brilliantly portrayed the thought processes of a young child, we get to see the horror of what the story’s heroine, Helen, witnessed as a child, and how this has obviously affected her in the time between her childhood and her next appearance as an adult.
I loved the psychological elements to this story, especially seeing how having epilepsy made Helen shy away from forming attachments, from fear of disgust or being viewed differently. It is a sad reminder that people are often afraid of things that they don’t understand which causes perfectly innocent individuals to be shunned due to a condition that is not their fault. I also loved the idea of Helen moving into a half-way house. In suspense and thrillers we see a lot of the bad side of criminals, but I loved how in ‘The Elephant Girl’ we were able to see that not all criminals are necessarily guilty of the crimes they have been committed for, or that because they have done wrong in the past they do not have hope, or the right of redemption. My favourite characters in this book were Charlie, a young girl who just made the wrong choices, and Lee, a mugger with a stutter who loves dogs. I love how they are depicted as human rather than as a ‘criminal’.
Which leads me to Jason. *sigh* First Aidan and now Jason, Henriette Gyland’s wonderful male creations have ruined me for all real-life men. I love that Jason believes that everyone has the chance of redemption and his fierce loyalty to his friends is breathtaking. Even when he doesn’t know everything about somebody, he sticks by them and defends them, which made me really admire him. His and Helen’s growing relationship was great fun to read, and I absolutely loved how he took care of her after she had an epileptic fit, and instead of running away scared of the implications of her condition, he accepted that this was a part of her and stuck by her.
‘The Elephant Girl’ is a clever, intense romantic suspense, that is a beautiful story of love, friendship, revenge and the hope of redemption. 5 Stars and a definite recommended read!