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Sunday, February 4, 2018

That Girl by Kate Kerrigan - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

It's 1961 and Hanna, whose future at first seemed so promising, now leads a terrible life. She's isolated and there's nobody she can turn to for help. To escape she commits an awful crime and flees her home in Ireland. She thinks London is the place to start over and there she'll be Annie, a girl brave and powerful enough to live life on her own terms. When she arrives in London she has nowhere to go, but she meets Lara, another Irish girl, who offers her a place to stay. Will Annie have happier times ahead of her or will her past eventually catch up with her?

Lara and Matthew have been together for a long time. Lara is convinced they will get married and start a family, but Matthew is having doubts. He eventually decides to join the priesthood instead and leaves Lara with a broken heart. Lara needs a fresh start and London is the perfect place for her to be free. She's a fashion designer and while she first finds employment in a club, she soon starts to aim for more. However, the club's owner is a dangerous criminal and she has more ties to him than she likes. Is this going to cause problems eventually?

Matthew's twin sister Noreen and Lara have always been best friends. Noreen loves her fiancé John, but she doesn't want to get married and be tied down from a young age. She should have an adventure first. Lara is already in London and it seems like the perfect place for Noreen to be as well. When she arrives something has changed though, Lara has built a life for herself and it isn't as easy for Noreen to fit in as she thought it would be. Will she regret leaving John behind for the idea of something more, an experience that might not be as good as she thought it would be?

That Girl is a fantastic story about three very different girls. I was immediately intrigued by Hanna/Annie. She's shy, but she's also brave and resilient and I was curious to find out what she'd be like when she'd come out of her shell. She and Lara become good friends straight away. Lara is talented and smart. Matthew hurt her, but she also knows she has to keep going and if she wants to find love again she needs to let go of the past. That was an interesting journey to witness. Noreen wants more than becoming a wife and mother, she craves sex and adventure. She's bold and outspoken, but also impulsive and naive and that gets her into trouble. It was fascinating to see where that would lead. Kate Kerrigan kept me glued to the pages with their stories and I couldn't read quickly enough to find out what would happen to the three girls.

Kate Kerrigan combines a story about three fabulous girls starting over in the energetic and hip London of the sixties with gripping scenes about dangerous criminals, betrayal and secrets. I was immediately mesmerized by That Girl and couldn't put it down. The story is incredibly well written, there's plenty of action and there are many complex relationships to read about. Kate Kerrigan kept surprising me over and over again, which is something I absolutely loved about the story. That Girl is a brilliant book, it's entertaining, unexpected, compelling and dynamic.


If you love fiction about strong women who are making a new start in the vibrant London of the sixties you should definitely read That Girl.

About Kate Kerrigan

Kate's real name is Morag Prunty and she worked for many years as a magazine journalist and editor before turning to fiction, writing four madcap comedies in the nineties - you can find Morag's books in the tab above or link to them here.

Her first Kate Kerrigan book, Recipes for a Perfect Marriage was published in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, translated into 25 languages and optioned for film. Her next novel The Miracle of Grace, was also turned into a screenplay, but it was her Ellis Island Trilogy, featuring feisty heroine Ellie Hogan, that made her a New York Times bestseller. The Lost Garden, The Dress and her latest novel, It Was Only Ever You followed, all to critical acclaim and achieving bestseller status. Kate has a loyal following of readers in the U.K, Ireland, the U.S. and, increasingly, Australia. She is a ‘writers writer’ whose advocates include popular Irish writers Cecelia Ahern, Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly.

Kate lives and works in Killala, County Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way. She lives in a house overlooking the sea with her artist husband, Niall Kerrigan, and their two young sons, Leo and Tom. Kate writes every day in a small cottage in her mother’s back garden, in the nearby town of Ballina. She documents her life in a weekly column for the Irish Mail, and on the Irish radio programme, Sunday Miscellany.

A writing evangelist, Kate also teaches and mentors at National University College Galway (NUIG).


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Guest post

By Kate Kerrigan

That Girl is a story of friendship. Kate talks about her oldest friend Mary – and a relationship that has endured for nearly forty years.

‘Will you do my hair for Max’s wedding?’ My friend Mary’s son got married last Saturday.
I have always been in slight denial about the existence of Maximillian. Mary had her first son when she was just out of college which was an extraordinarily brave thing to do. We were daughters of the first generation of Irish feminists. Our mothers were Irish emigrants who moved to London hoping for some swinging sixties action then found themselves somehow, still going to mass on Sunday mornings and bringing their daughters for Irish dancing classes in chilly church halls.

The size of their families and source of their general discontent was mostly down to moral dilly-dallying when it came to taking the pill. As they stood in their small, scullery kitchens (nobody had big kitchen in those days except for people posh enough to employ staff to cook in them) washing piles of terry nappies in a primitive twin-tub, they determined their daughters wouldn’t land up in the same boat. I don’t know one girl in my strict convent girls school that wasn’t marched up to the GP the minute her periods started and put on the pill under the auspice of ‘regulating her menstrual cycle’. The only two ‘good girls’ whose parents were Catholic enough not to take these steps were pregnant before our final school exams - one of them by a young curate.

Our generation knew that getting pregnant was not only a terrible sin that would ruin our lives, but had the added shame of being a betrayal of the 60’s and 70’s generation of women’s efforts to liberate us. If we got pregnant we’d not only be in trouble with the priest and our parents, but Mary Robinson and Nell McCafferty might come around to our house and stand outside with placards. Put simply, pregnancy – ever actually – was considered something of a no-no. So when I discovered that my brightest, most sophisticated, most dynamic, career-minded, ambitious friend of mine was having a baby, I was more astonished than impressed. 

We were both young and single, working hard and enjoying life. Mary just got on with single motherhood. She never complained or bored me with talk of nappies or first steps and certainly never put pressure on me to help her out. Looking back, I never offered any help. Mary’s baby son was there but he was never really a part of my relationship with her. Although I knew she loved Max, I had absolutely no idea how much, or how important a driving force he was in her life. I never really thought about how isolating it must have been for her among childless peers, or as a much younger mother at the school gates.

Then, in our late thirties, the unexpected happened. We both got pregnant at the same time, me for the first time and Mary for the second. Our life experiences came into sync again when our sons Oliver and Leo were born. But it wasn’t until I had my own ‘should-know-better’ pregnancy at forty-five I began to understand what Mary had been through. Even though Mary and I only have three children between us they span in ages from twenty-eight to five!

Mary has been here for me in the past five years in a way I wasn’t for her when max was small. So I flew over to London be there for my friend on the day of her sons wedding. To be honest, I felt like it was Mary getting married. Her outfit was stunning. The dress was scarlet Vivienne Westwood, the coat was Christian Dior and the shoes - O.M.G! – they were metallic, glimmering, magnificent Jimmy Choos. The fascinator was a wedding staple of mine, two black and red structured feathered balls very delicate and no hint of ‘quivering wedding-hen’.

Mary sat in front of her bedroom mirror and I blow dried her hair then teased it up into a French pleat. As I pinned the fascinator into place I looked at her perfectly made-up face, her matt red lipstick seemed to be the same shade and set into the same perfect, enviable bow it was when were teens together, terrorizing young men in North London discos.
‘You look beautiful,’ I said. ‘Thanks for being here,’ she said.

I wanted to say sorry, to apologise for past sins as a selfish young woman. But apologies like that are senseless. You do what you can when you can. Last Saturday I did Mary’s hair for her sons wedding, doled out tissues from my handbag and minded her Jimmy Choo shoes while she danced until dawn. Most important of all though, I gloried in the success of my oldest friend for rearing and letting go of her first born-son. And I allowed myself to feeI proud of her – and him.


Three very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of That Girl by Kate Kerrigan.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. It sounds like my kind of book! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. That Girl sounds like a captivating story about friendship, love and heartache punctuated with vivid imagery and believable characters.

  3. sounds like a fab read! captivating, interesting, and absorbing!

  4. Will be interesting to read the girls journey leaving the past behind and starting over. Love the sound of it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. A very heartfelt guest post. True friendship that lasts over so many years is something to be cherished.