Book Review: Copycat by Gillian White

Jenny’s obsession with her neighbour Martha leads to disruption in both their lives as Jenny does everything she can for attention from the one she loves. Both are married and both have children the same age. Whereas Martha is confident, together and independent by nature Jenny isn’t and she wishes she could be more like Martha. However, a string of events, turn the table of power between them leading to the tragic conclusion of their friendship.

The book starts from the point where one of the women has been murdered by the other and then goes back to the beginning of the story, ten years prior, of how they met and develops the history behind their relationship and the effect it has on both their children and spouses. I enjoyed reading about both characters and it was interesting to see personality disorder played out in this very capable novel. I couldn’t stop reading this and the allure from one chapter to the next, told alternately by Jenny and Martha, was strong throughout the book.

There was an error that stood out for me and that was the consultant psychiatrist mentioned in the book, as a medic I couldn’t ignore that he was referred to as Mr Singh rather than Dr Singh (only consultant surgeons who have passed their membership exams to the Royal College are referred to as Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms) and the somewhat stilted and heavily abbreviated psychotherapy (talking therapy?) sessions seemed very superficial and missed the opportunity to show readers more clearly the traits of the personality disorder in a clinical setting, which may have clarified the behaviour of both parties, but it think this was consciously done by the author to stay away from the clinical aspects of what was occurring between individuals here.

However, any criticism of the book I have are very small points, overall the book was enthralling and I felt a gamut of emotions for both ladies and their families. I don’t think anyone can read this book without picking up parts and relating to it in personal experiences of growing up and friends, the infantilisation of both characters is very well described.

This is my very first title from this author and although not a high octane, edge of your seat type thriller it is quite a cerebral read and a practical look at the effect and sad consequences of living and dealing with personality disorder, even though the book does not state or tangle with psychiatric diagnosis; this is a great book for book club discussions.

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