Looking back, the most striking thing is that she knew I didn’t like her and she didn’t care. That type of self-possession at the tender age of nineteen—well, it’s unnatural. Or French. She was very, very French.
Six university friends spend their summer holidays in a Dordogne farmhouse, Kate, the narrator and her best friend Lara “, Lara picks up men like the rest of us pick up newspapers. She puts them down in the same way, too.” Caro, Lara, Tom, Seb, Theo, Kate, did I say friends…what group of six students, wouldn’t have tensions build up between them living together over their holidays, throw in some drugs and a catalyst, the nineteen year old neighbour, Severine, who uses their pool, see the opening quote, and I guess they would never be friends the same way afterwards, if they ever were. A banal story and life goes on, but then ten years later Severine’s body turns up at the bottom of the well in that same farmhouse.
Kate, who has started her own legal personnel head hunter company and in trying get established lives on a a daily diet of adrenaline and worry, gets a call out of the blue from one of the four, Theo was killed in Afghanistan. Tom tells her about the discovery of the body and of the French policeman, Modan, that would be questioning her. Severine, who had been seen leaving the area, at the bus station, on the morning of their own departure had never been seen again.
As the story advances and Kate’s memory of events proves at first rusty, and then she realises there were things happening that she didn’t know about, Severine begins to appear to her beginning as her dead bones:
One morning I find those very bones, bleached white and neatly stacked in a pile with the grinning skull atop, resting on my kitchen counter; blinking does not remove them, though I know they’re not there.
Somebody wants Kate to carry the can and her previous friends clearly know things she doesn’t, Kate had been there with her then partner Seb and she was the only one of the six who didn’t know that their relationship was coming to an end.
A not too memorable crime thriller where the narrator, seeing a dead girl following her seems the most “normal” of the bunch.
First Published in English as “The French Girl” in 2018 by Corvus