UK Publishing Date: 19 Nov 2015. 272 pages.
As Good as Dead is described in the book notes as “an exquisitely tuned psychological high-wire act” and unfortunately this is a bit misleading. As I went into this book I was expecting a fast paced psychological thriller and instead i got a literary analysis of Charlotte’s relationship with her short-lived college room mate Esme and with the effect that it continues to have on her adult life.
Charlotte is a small town Iowa girl and when she goes off to college to study to be a writer she is shy and lonely and uncertain of her place in this new life. When she is looking for a new apartment to rent she meets the larger than life Esme who convinces her to share with her. Esme is an odd character, very manipulative and quickly realises that she can exploit Charlotte weaknesses to her advantage. These weaknesses include Charlotte’s battles with alcoholism and drugs. It is testament to her skill and power that twenty years later Charlotte still feels a pull to the angry and embittered Esme.
As an adult and a College Professor with tenure, Charlotte still appears to be the same lost and naive Iowa farmgirl. Lonely, with no close female friends, and unsure of the strength of her twenty year marriage to Will. He is older than her, he takes charge. Charlotte concedes to his view on most things. While it seems a fairly normal life, and indeed professionally successful, Charlotte still has skeletons in her closet and they all go back to her time with Esme.
Reading it as a piece of literary fiction and an analysis of a toxic relationship I’d probably give it closer to four stars but the book notes threw me off track and I was expecting something far more explosive and possibly more unconventional.
Supplied by Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You can find the book here: As Good as Dead