Quick Book Review: The Duplicate by Helen Fitzgerald

The Duplicate by Helen Fitzgerald

Last year, I read Bloody Women by Helen Fitzgerald. That was an original and exciting story. When I was recently offered an e-copy for review of another book by Fitzgerald, I said yes, of course. The Duplicate is just as original as Bloody Women but not so much a thriller as an amazing story that has a few unexpected but believable twists.

Fitzgerald, a writer from Scotland but originally from Australia, has had only a few e-books published in the USA, but in the Netherlands 4 or 5 of her books have been translated to Dutch and published in paperback as well as ebook (and in the UK she has seven books in paperback).

A few weeks ago there was an interview with Helen Fitzgerald in a national Dutch newspaper about her new book, De donor (The Donor), which was recently published by the main Dutch thriller publishers, Anthos. Definitely a writer I want to read more of and one for the USA to discover still!

The Duplicate: What it is about

From the publisher’s website: “Barbara isn’t the most popular girl in school and she’s hoping that the Ruth Warren self-help book can help her navigate through the questions in her life. How can she get Beth to be her friend? Why is Beth so popular? How can she get her true love, Tim, to notice her?

What is her mad scientist uncle working on in his basement laboratory? Why does he need an alcoholic homeless woman to live with them for nine months?

The terrible answers will affect Barbara’s entire life and most of all, her own daughter.”

The Duplicate: What I thought

The story starts with Barbara, who is bullied at school to some extend. She knows she’s going to marry Tim but he seems more interested in Beth. So, Barbara uses Ruth Warren’s self-help book to improve her looks and her behaviour. She’s a rather weird person with very few people skills.

It was fun to read how Barbara was trying to improve herself. But when it seemed she was actually getting Tim’s attention I started wondering if this was just wishful thinking or dreaming on Barbara’s part.

This first part of the book felt like YA, but that wasn’t quite so much the case for the other two parts of the book, although it’s very readable for YA readers. The second part is narrated by Barbara’s daughter Rowena, and we get to see Barbara through the eyes of someone else. Still weird, but in a different, rather scarily, determined, way. The story becomes quite oppressive and it seems Rowena ends up in a situation with no way out. She’s badly in need of a way to escape her mother.

The final part of the book was in some way superfluous, but in another way, it fitted the story well. I liked it least, as the story with Rowena had been resolved (in a positive or negative way, I’m not saying!). For me, the book could have ended here, but on the other hand, the further story was a nice continuation of Barbara’s storyline.

Overall, this was a refreshingly original story, with some mystery, thriller and a small dose of science fiction in it. (However, people that do not care for SF will still enjoy this story, I think – what happens is almost possible, just not quite).

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Number of pages: 115

First published: 2012 (ebook)

I got this book: got the ebook from the publishers, Snubnose Press, for review

Genre: mystery, science fiction

Have you read anything by Helen Fitzgerald?

What did you think of it?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

8 Responses to Quick Book Review: The Duplicate by Helen Fitzgerald

  1. I love a book that combines so many interesting elements! I haven’t read anything by Helen Fitzgerald, but I think I will look for her now!

  2. Nadine Nys says:

    I haven’t read Fitzgerald yet but I have a book of her (Ex) that I want to read soon. After your praise of the author, I’ll have to move her up my pile. Thanks, Judith.

  3. I didn’ t realise that Ex was the translation of Bloody Women… I have it as an e-book, and hadn’t checked the original title yet. I am going to read your review right away.

  4. Jae says:

    Ooh, I’m intrigued! I’ve never heard of this author and I love discovering new ones. I hope I can find a copy of this book and get to read it! Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  5. Nadine Nys says:

    Yes, of course, I already read your review… And like the book. I think I am going to read it on a sunny afternoon.

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