The Girl I Used to Know

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I’ve read a few of Faith Hogans books and this one was just as wonderful. The story was just so good and I look forward to reading the next book.
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The first half of the book was slow where the author laid down the foundations of both the main characters. 35 year old Amanda with her husband and kids had a great, well-settled life where the 66 year old Tess, her tenant at the basement, was the only thorn on her side. The women lived in the same house but hated each other with a vengeance. Life was good and moving like a well-oiled machine.

But every bright picture had a darker tinge if you looked closely. One day, Amanda too looked closely into her husband’s pockets and came out knowing a fact which shattered her. Tess tripped on a cat, and with a fractured hand, came to know how lonely she was. Slowly, Amanda’s daughter Robyn became her friend along with the doctor who treated her. Amanda too had to take some important decisions regarding her life.

Approximately, at the mid-half of the book, the story took a deep breath and settled down over me, enveloping me like a warm, cozy blanket as if these characters were a part of my life. I saw myself in them. I saw my fears reflected in their stories. Their dreams had been lost like mine. Their loneliness seemed exactly like the one in my heart.

Faith’s writing took me to a place deep into myself where my wishes had once taken flight. Her portrayal of these brave women who forged a tentative friendship, then became each other’s staunchest support, saw my courage seeping into me. Their determination to live their lives on their terms made me believe in mine. Their emotions simply became mine. Such was the power of Faith’s words.
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Told in two time-lines over forty years apart.

Over forty years ago:

This lovely story begins with two sisters from rural Ireland. On the cusp of adulthood, they travel together to Dublin where one sister will attend Trinity College's prestigious College of Music, and the other sister will attend secretarial school.  Tess Cuffe, the more passionate and vibrant of the two, is a singer. Nancy is more demure and wants the traditional life of husband and children, preferably back in Ballycove, the small Irish village she grew up in. Full of hopeful ambition and joie de vivre, the sisters embark on a new life in the city.

Just a short time after they move into their Dublin basement flat, Tess falls in love with Douglas Buckley.  This will profoundly change her life forever.

"It was a love that cost too much in the end."

Present day:

Amanda and Richard King live at 4 Swift Square, Dublin. This is a prestigious address as befits the ambitious banker that Richard is. They have two teenage children.  They bought the Georgian house years ago and have since totally remodeled it to the show-home condition it is today. There has only ever been one drawback... when they bought the house it had a sitting tenant in the basement flat.  A tenant who will not be moved through bribery or any other means. Her name is Tess Cuffe and she is now sixty-six years of age.

Bitter, regretful, and lonelier than she ever could have imagined, Tess Cuffe hasn't one friend to call her own.  Still working, she temps at various offices around the city of Dublin.  When a neighbour's cat gets under her feet, she had a fall which broke her wrist. This event will begin what is a drastic turnabout to Tess's lot in life.  For starters, she becomes friends with the doctor who treats her injury, as well as the King's teenage daughter Robyn, AND, at first reluctantly, she takes in the troublesome cat which she names Matt.

"Amanda had signed up for happy ever after 
and suddenly it was being snatched from her."

Forty-six year old Amanda King is lonely also. Her husband is distant and constantly critical. He works longer and longer hours. Her children are uncommunicative. Her female 'friends' are not really friends, rather they are catty, duplicitous socialites. She turns to high carb foods for comfort and gains weight. When her 'perfect' life turns sour, Amanda takes stock of her miserable situation and finds herself wondering just where is "the girl she used to know"...


A prime example of 'women's fiction', "The girl I used to know" was a joy to read. Just the tonic a reader craves after a reading slump, or, as a genre palate cleanser. The strong characterization makes you form a bond with the strong and resilient women at its core.

The novel explores the themes of loneliness, betrayal, second chances, and, most importantly, female friendship.  The overriding message of the book is summed up in the following quote:

"It's never too late to be happy."

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Aria (a digital imprint of Head of Zeus) via NetGalley. I chose to review it because I thoroughly enjoyed another of her novels.
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I received a copy of this from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book documents the lives and respective turning points of 2 very different women. One delves in the hopeful and shiny life of Tess at least 40 years in the past when she first started going to school in Dublin for singing. Over the course of the book, you find out what happened in the past to make her like she is in the present. It's both tragic and heartwarming. The other woman, Amanda, who happens to live in the house above Tess, is married to the overbearing and narcissistic Richard. When we are first introduced to the couple, they are both very much at odds with their current tenant, Tess. Richard wants nothing more than to have her move out, while Tess has other plans. At first it appears, Amanda is Richard's lapdog; she doesn't really have any personality of her own, and she does what a typical rich housewife usually does. We are introduced to a completely different Amanda 20 or so years prior, who was an aspiring artist, and had big big dreams. 
This book is about heartbreak, finding one's self, forgiveness, strength, and trust. It's got some romance and some feel good parts as well. I really enjoyed it and I will be checking out more books by this author.
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The Girl I Used to Know is the most apt title for this book. It applies to both main characters, Amanda King and Tess Cuffe. Tess is the sitting tenant in the basement flat of Amanda's swanky Georgian townhouse and she won't leave. She's lonely and she remembers her first months in Dublin, away from home for the first time. Maybe that was the last time she was happy, but that was 48 years ago. Amanda is a trophy wife now, pandering to the every whim of her hotshot husband, Richard, but she's also lost sight of who she used to be. She's a lady who lunches now but is she really happy?

I have to say that it took me probably to about the half way mark to really settle into this book and I think it was because the characters were largely unlikeable. That's not usually a problem for me, but maybe I wanted to like them. Then wham bam, all of a sudden things changed, the characters started to redeem themselves, I gained a real understanding of their feelings, their lives and why they behaved as they did and I got right into it.

I'd been meaning to read a Faith Hogan book for some time and this book proved the perfect introduction to her writing. She portrays so well the hard persona that people can adopt when they are lonely or sad, to keep people away when what they really need is to draw people into their lives. I grew to really like Tess and Amanda, and also the supporting characters, the gardener and the doctor in particular (I won't say anything else about them so as not to spoil the story). 

I ended up shutting the book (ok, I read it on my Kindle so it's more like pressing the button for the last time) with a smile on my face and a real sense of satisfaction. It's about going through bad times and coming out the other end stronger and happier, redemption, acceptance, friendship, love, family. Just lovely, it was a pleasure to read.
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This is a brilliant 5 star family saga set in Ireland. We have two storytellers, firstly Tess who is a single,66 year old lady. She lives in the basement flat owned by Richard and Amanda who live in the main house. The other storyteller is Amanda, she has been married for 20 years to Richard. Both women are deeply lonely and unhappy and have been enemies for years. Can they come together and become friends? Read on!
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I really enjoyed this book. A heartwarming and compelling beautifully written story. I found myself quickly drawn into the story of the characters and their emotional roller coaster. 
It is a story about life, love, loss, dreams, heartache, infidelity, family, and romance.

This is the first book I have read from Faith Hogan. I found her writing style to be warm, engrossing and very easy to read. A perfect cosy read for a cold winter's day - curl up on the sofa and enjoy.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Lovely book all about friendships and how sometimes they can help us find ourselves
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The Girl I Used To Know follows the story of two women, Amanda King and Tess Cuffe.  Amanda finds herself as Tess’s landlord and neither of the women are happy with the arrangement.  Set in Dublin, the story  spans across two timelines in the narration.  We follow Amanda in the now and we get to hear about Tess’s life both now and in the past when she was in college.  The dual view point and alternating time frames is the perfect medium to tell this story.

I can honestly say I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.  Tess was a bright, beautiful, talented teenage girl off to the big city of Dublin to chase her dream of becoming a singer. But Tess ends up becoming an old spinster.  She is the lonely, curmudgeon old lady that lives in Amanda’s basement.  So what happened to the beautiful talented girl?  The novel is Tess’s journey and what happened to derail her life and how she possibly finds it again.

Amanda is the perfectly happy housewife of a rich man living in “Tess’s house” and Tess does everything she can to make the woman unhappy and disrupt her perfect life.  Only the joke is on Tess – Amanda is already unhappy and far from perfect.  She’s got two distant teenage kids and a neglectful husband and is realizing what a sham her life has become.

The two women find out that they have much more in common that they could have ever imagined.  With a little nudging from Amanda’s daughter and a neighbor’s sweet, abandon cat, the two women find some common ground and even a friendship.

The Girl I Used To Know is a  perfectly charming story.  It’s about losing yourself in the mayhem of life, but being able to find joy in the ashes.  It’s a heartfelt story of friendships and discovering healing in the most unlikely of places.

Highly recommended!  It’s out in stores now and available here:
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Unfortunately this book was archived before I could read it.
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This is the story of two neighbours, Tess and  AManda who have led very different lives. Tess, was originally training to be a professional singer, and Amanda had great hopes of being the perfect wife, and bringing up perfect children.
The story dips backwards and forwards in time, which can get a little confusing at times. However the two main characters end up helping each other, with the help of a lost cat, a bossy doctor, a charming gardener, and a mixed up teenage girl.
The characterization in this book is good, and the plot entirely plausible. Many thanks to the editor, and Net Galley for allowing me to read this novel.
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Amanda thinks she has it all. Once upon a time she was an upcoming artist, but she turned her back on her talent when she married Richard. Richard works hard and brings in lots of money. This makes them able to live comfortably in a picture perfect house. Amanda is always busy keeping up appearances with her fake friends, because she doesn't want to be the main subject of their gossip. Her two teenage children know that something isn't right and their behavior is only making the already bad situation worse. Will Amanda ever be able to go back to that stress-free girl she used to be?

Tess has been renting Amanda's basement flat for a long time. She already lived there before they moved in and Richard and Amanda have had it in for her ever since they bought the place. Their bickering slowly turned into ugly fights, which even led to a court hearing. Richard wants nothing more than to throw Tess out of the only place she ever truly called home. Tess has been badly hurt in the past and has been on her own ever since. She keeps everyone at bay with her bad attitude and her hateful words. Tess was a promising singer with a voice that could mesmerize any audience. She lost the pleasure to sing, but will she eventually find it in herself to change the tune of her life?

Amanda knew that Richard was a player when she first met him and she played hard to get. In the beginning they had wonderful years, but Richard has always been very cold towards Amanda. Her marriage changed her and she kept her true feelings to herself, because she didn't want to stir up any unwanted negative attention. I loved to read about how she slowly realises what has become of her. She needs to find herself again and I was rooting for her to succeed.

Tess grew up in a strict household. Her father decided everything and controlled their day-to-day life, soTess was very happy to leave their small town behind. Her sister Nancy went with her to Dublin, but both of them always knew that Nancy would return home someday. Tess never expected that Nancy would take Tess's heart and soul with her, leaving Tess devastated and alone. Tess is such a feisty old lady and her comments made me laugh out loud so many times. She has a strong will and can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I wished for Tess to find happiness again and I couldn't wait to find out what she would do next.

The Girl I Used to Know is a heart-wrenching gripping story about two women who have lost theirselves due to the circumstances of their lives. The Girl I Used to Know also showed me hope. Everybody can change if they really want or need to. Both Amanda and Tess are so much stronger than they think they are and I loved to read about their individual journeys. I found myself glued to my seat because I wanted to find out so badly where Amanda and Tess would end up. Tess is an older woman and I liked how Faith Hogan shows her readers that age is nothing but a number. Love and happiness can be found at any time and at any age. The Girl I Used to Know is bittersweet, it moved me to tears, but it also put a big smile on my face. Faith Hogan is a new author for me and I can't thank Suze enough for introducing me to her books.
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It's always lovely to read a story set in Dublin, and this was wonderful. Set in a square of old Georgian houses, around a shared garden, it was so easy to picture the setting.

The two main characters do not get on with each other, and they share the same house. The story flicks back and forth between the present day and the past, for both Tess and Amanda, and we can begin to build up a picture as to what has made them the women they are today, and what caused them to get to this stage.

This keeps the reader hooked. It was a book I looked forward to returning to at the end of the day.

This is a very readable, captivating, and enjoyable book. The characters are so well drawn, and the story moves at the perfect pace. If you enjoy books by such wonderful authors as Patricia Scanlan, Melissa Hill, or Sinead Moriarty, you’ll love this.

A book to just get lost in and forget the world for a while. Perfect.
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Tess Cuffe and Amanda King have shared the same house for almost twenty years and yet they know nothing about each other. Amanda has lived in the top three floors of their Georgian townhouse with husband David and their children Casper and Robyn. Tess has lived alone in the basement flat, an unwanted tenant that Amanda and David have battled to be rid of.  But both of these women have one thing in common they’re both lonely and as the new year beckons they both begin to question their life choices and slowly the hostility between them begins to thaw.
Helped along by a stray cat, a sexy gardener named Carlos, a meddling Doctor and Amanda’s caring daughter Robyn and  the pair begin to form an unlikely friendship as they set about resolving the mistakes from their past.
This was an incredibly well written story and I can’t believe Faith Hogan is an author I’ve not come across before, her story-telling is so heartfelt and engaging. I loved the journey that Tess and Amanda went on in this book. At the beginning Tess comes across as a grumpy and rather sarcastic old woman and Amanda as a preened and polished airhead, luckily through the flashbacks to their earlier years we realise this is not the case. Both women have deeply hidden passions which have been crushed by unthoughtful men in their lives. 
This is a wonderful story of friendship, family, love, loss and betrayal. It’s a story about second chances and how it’s never too late to change your life, no matter how old you are. It’s about forgiveness and following your dreams. It’s one of those books where you find yourself just reading one more chapter because you just need to know what happens next.  I loved every page of this book and can’t wait to devour more of Faith Hogan’s writing.
Thank you so much to Melanie at Aria for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
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I was too late in time to read this book darn!! I will read this book in the future.
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The Girl I Used To Know
Faith Hogan

What it's all about...

This is a lovely book about two women who have been lost to themselves and are in great need of finding themselves.  Tess and Amanda...neighbors by default... who have lived practically side by side without really knowing each other...for years.  They have been unfriendly for so long that it seems as though they can never really be friendly.  However...circumstances bring them together...or if not together at least on a path that might bring them together.  

Why I wanted to read it...

Sometimes a book about lost and found friendships is just the thing for a cold blustery winter day.  Tess was so curmudgeonly...she was mean to everything and everyone...even Matt the Cat.  Her life just got meaner and meaner and smaller and smaller.  She needed a big hard push to make her change her ways.  Then there was Amanda...sweet Amanda...who tried to make her family happy 24/7.  The result was two surly silent teenagers and an unfaithful husband.  

What made me truly enjoy this book...

I truly enjoyed watching Tess and Amanda change and grow.  

Why you should read it, too...

Readers who love well written women’s fiction should enjoy the adventures of Tess and Amanda.

I received  an advance reader’s copy of this  book from the publisher through NetGalley and Amazon.  It was my choice to read it and review it.
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I enjoyed the growth of the characters and how they entwined. The story flowed. A lovely book and now really looking forward to discovering the authors other books.
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Two women share the same house over a very long period. One the main house, one the basement flat.  Amanda is married to a very well settled professional with two teenage children. On the surface her life seems complete. Tess is a single woman who has no friends, absolutely no family and lives a very lonely life tucked away in her flat which has not seen improvement for years and is in a bit of a shambles.

Tess seems embittered the way life has turned out to be. She started out as a bright, hopeful star hoping to break into the singing sphere. She fell in love and she thought that was it. Unfortunately that was not to be and her lover fell in love with her placid sister who whisked him away to Ireland. 

Amanda is now seeing cracks in her marriage, she feels that her husband is unfaithful,  her children are drifting away from her and that her life has lost all meaning. A chance encounter with Tess seems to slowly bridge the gap and a confrontation with her husband also brings closure though it brings its fair share of heartache. With the absence of her husband her children also begin to be more supportive and life seems to be better. With Tess the constant prodding of her doctor and a few others make her less hesitant to step out into the open and enjoy life once more. It also helps her to try to reach out to her sister to whom she was so close. It helps in all ways for Tess to have closure on many sides.

This was an emotional read. One felt one was on a see saw as there was much sadness and bitterness in the story. Characterization was spot on. 

Goodreads and Amazon reviews posted on 29/12/2017.  Review on my blog 31/12/2017.
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I admit to being a huge Faith Hogan fan so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her new book; she writes such emotive and compelling fiction with strong female characters who you think of as friends as the book goes on.  The Girl I Used to Know is so perfectly named as it describes the journey our two main characters are on.  In this case, both women must shed the masks they have worn for so long in order to find their very own girl they used to know.  

Amanda lives in a beautiful Georgian house and her life revolves around her husband and children.  Amanda gets quite a wake up call when she catches sight of her reflection in a window and doesn't recognise the person she sees.  With her husband spending more and more time 'at work', Amanda can spend some time reconnecting with the girl buried beneath the excess pounds.

Tess is a sitting tenant in Amanda's basement and the pair can barely say a civil word to each other.  Amanda always imagined that she would include the basement as part of her home but Tess has no intention of moving out.  With Tess getting older, she has no intention of popping her clogs too soon and making it easy for Amanda to get her hands on the basement flat.

When fate plays a hand and the two women find themselves spending time with each other, they find that the other isn't the person they thought she was.  Amanda appears to have had an easy life, being given everything she ever wanted and dreamed of, whereas life has not been kind to Tess leaving her bitter and unhappy.  They are each other's perfect medicine, along with a drop of whiskey and Matt the cat, of course.

I do love dual storyline books as you unravel the threads of a person's life to find out why and how they are the person they are now.  As prickly as she was, I warmed to Tess straight away and was pinning my colours to her mast in the fight with Amanda, who I found to be one of those personality-free first, I hasten to add.  Then I started to feel so sorry for Amanda as she hadn't done anything to deserve what she was going through, but my pity turned to triumph as Amanda the beautiful butterfly emerged from her comfy old chrysalis.

This is another amazing book by Faith Hogan, one that leaves your heart fit to burst but is actually so thought-provoking that you can't help but examine your own life to see if you can reveal your happier true self from years ago.  Pick it up today and maybe you will find the girl YOU used to know.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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I suspect I might have mentioned before, in passing, that Faith Hogan has very quickly become one of my favourite authors – and one of my favourite people too. It’s a delight and a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for her latest, The Girl I Used to Know, published on 1st December by Aria Fiction, and available for kindle, Kobo and on iBooks (and just 99p in all formats): my thanks to the publisher and netgalley for my advance reading e-copy.

I really enjoyed her first, My Husband’s Wives, a wonderful read about the intricacies of female friendship, love in its many guises, and a group of women each finding their own strength to move on – you can read my full review here. Then there was Secrets We Keep – described perfectly as “a bittersweet story of love, loss and life”, I think I might have liked it even more (review here). But this one… oh my goodness! They call it “a beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it” – and they couldn’t have summed it up any more perfectly.

This was one of those books that you’d like to go on for ever – I just couldn’t carve out any concentrated reading time this week (which would have been my idea of reading heaven), but every time I was forced to set this book aside I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to pick it up, and it was constantly in my thoughts. The author’s writing is several notches more accomplished than it was in the earlier books (and I do distinctly remember using the word “accomplished” about them too), and the way this book succeeded in engaging my every emotion was quite exceptional.

The two women at this book’s heart are perfectly drawn. At the start you may just find them “interesting”, as their past and present is laid out before you – you might not even like either of them very much, even wonder how they can sustain a story. But it doesn’t take very long until you feel for them both with every fibre of your being – when a book moves you to tears (and several times), has you laughing out loud, brings a lump to your throat, and then makes you cry again with sheer joy, you know you’re reading something rather special.

Tess – in the present – is in her sixties, lonely (although she’d never admit it) and cantankerous, and you’ll wonder how you could ever grow to love her, but you will. The author herself is a great deal younger, but her insight into the mind and feelings of her creation absolutely took my breath away. It’s not difficult to find a lot you’ll recognise in Amanda too – and I just loved the strength she shows as she transforms her life and discovers those things that are most important for her happiness. And the relationship between the two women is just perfectly handled as they both feel their way forward. The supporting cast are excellent too – Tess’s mousy sister Nancy (and their interesting sibling relationship), Amanda’s obnoxious husband, her teenage daughter Robyn, gorgeous gardener Carlos, and the wonderful Kilker. And as for Matt… well, what a character he is! And then there’s the house, the flat and the square itself – almost characters in their own right.

The pacing – the ebb and flow – of the story is absolutely faultless, and its unfolding an absolute joy. Without a shadow of doubt, this is one of my favourite books of the year.
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