The Girl I Used to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Faith Hogan’s star in the contemporary women’s fiction firmament continues to rise with her latest page-turning novel of friendship, family and the ties that bind: The Girl I Used to Know, a compulsively readable and heartwarming tale that stands shoulder to shoulder with the novels of Maeve Binchy, Patricia Scanlan and Cathy Kelly.

At sixty-six years of age, Tess Cuffe already feels as if her life is over. As a girl, she had been full of so many hopes and dreams for the future. Having been determined to make it as a professional singer and to shake off the dust of her small village, Tess had once thought that she could conquer the world, however, fate had other ideas in store for her. Rather than showing off her vocal talent on stages all across the world and being the one standing in the spotlight, she has spent her adult life hiding in the shadows eking out a living doing a variety of temping jobs all across the city, with no friends and nobody to care for or care about. She lives in a basement flat in a beautiful Georgian square in Dublin, much to the chagrin of Amanda and Richard King, who live on the top floors of their shared house. The Kings are sophisticated professionals who have even gone through the courts to evict Tess, but to no avail. Naturally their is no love lost between the two parties, but little do Tess and Amanda realise that they’ve got more in common than they originally thought…

Amanda seems to be leading a life most people would give their right arm for. She lives in a beautiful house in one of Dublin’s most desirable post codes, has two beautiful children and the perfect husband, but scratch beneath the middle-class surface and you’ll find a woman living in a soulless house with two kids growing increasingly independent and a husband with no respect for his marriage vows. Amanda spends her days drinking coffee with the girls and feeling increasingly listless and restless. She cannot help but feel that the girl she had once been has been lost and been replaced with an empty husk who idles her days away. Tess Cuffe with her unfashionable clothes and lack of sophistication couldn’t be more different from Amanda, yet as the two lonely women find themselves striking a hesitant friendship, they realise that they might be able to help one another to find the spark within which circumstance and fear had extinguished a long time ago.

Can Tess and Amanda find the courage to let go of the past and forge forward into the future? Or will they continue to let themselves be held hostage by their own fears?

The Girl I Used to Know is a feel-good, life-affirming and wonderfully poignant tale that I struggled to put down. I was drawn in by Faith Hogan’s brilliant tale from the very first page and I simply could not put the book down. Tess and Amanda are two fascinating, interesting and believable characters readers will relate to, empathize with and be inspired by. The Girl I Used to Know is a fantastic read that proves that you are never too old to be happy and one which will make you laugh and cry in equal measures.

A stellar read from a writer who keeps on getting better and better, The Girl I Used to Know is another must-read from the brilliant Faith Hogan!
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I love dipping my toes into different genres as you never quite know what you might find, and occasionally you find a beautiful little gem and that is what I found right here.

Two stories are told, Tess’ story spanning forty-eight years and Amanda’s spanning twenty-two years. Both women are on a journey, heartaches and pain, love and loss both trying to return to The Girl (They) used to know. Both women looking past the facade of life and finally seeing each other for who they truly are, not who they pretend to be. Knocking down walls that have been placed there by other people and their disapprovals.

I warmed to both women quickly. Both are headstrong and determined women and until a man comes into their lives and things change. Tess suffers betrayal and heartache and struggles to move on. I mean if I went through what she did I think I would spiral out of control. She was poised but she shut herself off and became bitter. Slowly but surely, in cahoots with Amanda’s daughter Robyn, looking after a cat brings her out her shells and forms bonds with both Robyn and Amanda.

Amanda, at face level, has it all, perfect house, marriage, kids, husband going to get the all-important promotion. Somewhere in life, Amanda lost herself, and through stupid behaviour of her husband, she starts to see how cocooned her life is. I did feel satisfied with Amanda when she started smashing up glass ornaments!!

I really did love this story of second chances. Watching two women grow and realise that they have so much more to give and to live for. It’s definitely a book for anyone who has been wondering if life has passed you by without saying hi. It hasn’t! This book literally tells you it does not matter how old you are, you deserve your dreams and happiness and I love a book that gives you the warm and fuzzies. I have watched these two women take a look at their lives and demand more. It gives you the strength to review your life the same.

I loved this book, I sat there smiling and chuckling a lot. It made my heart soar for them both as I watched them grow. It just shows you how much negativity in your life can seriously damage not just you but to everyone around you. When you smile they smile.
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I have been a fan of Faith’s work for a while now.  I love the way in which she writes stories that tackle the difficult subjects but in a compassionate and sensitive way.  I read the synopsis for ‘The Girl I Used To Know’ and it certainly sounded like just my kind of read.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Girl I Used To Know’ but more about that in a bit.
The story is centred around two ladies called Amanda King and Tess Cuffe.  Amanda seems to have the perfect lifestyle, the perfect house, the perfect social life and well you get the picture.  However appearances can be deceptive and really she is rather lonely.  Her house doesn’t have any sort of personality, her husband keeps being unfaithful and Amanda feels rather lonely.  Tess lives in the basement of the house and to be honest she is an unwanted tenant.  Tess has shut herself away from most things and she has shut her heart to love.  If you were to go by appearances and first impressions you might think that the two ladies would have nothing in common, but this book shows that you can overcome the past and that friendships can be formed in the most unlikely of circumstances.
‘The Girl I Used To Know’ is certainly addictive reading.  As soon as I began to read the first page that was it, I just knew that I would find it extremely difficult to prise the book out of my hands and so it proved to be.  I binge read the book over the course of a couple of days but I was having that much fun reading the book that I failed to notice just how quickly the time was passing or how quickly the pages were turning.  I would sit down, only intending to read for half an hour and I would still be sat reading over an hour later.
‘The Girl I used To Know’ is brilliantly written but then I wouldn’t expect anything else from Faith Hogan.  Faith writes beautifully and she really does get to the heart of the matter.  Faith knows how to draw you into the book from the first word onwards and she reels you in, much as a fisherman would reel in a catch.  Once she has your attention, she doesn’t let it go until long after you have finished the book.  Even after having finished reading the book, I still find myself thinking about the story and the characters.  Faith writes so realistically and uses such powerful descriptions that I really did feel as though I was part of the story myself.  I felt in tune with the characters and whatever emotion they were feeling, I felt too.  I didn’t cry during the story but there were certainly times when I developed a lump in my throat.
In short, I absolutely adored ‘The Girl I Used To Know’.  I would most definitely recommend Faith and her books to other readers.  I can’t wait to read what Faith comes up with next.  Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.
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The Girl I Used to Know is a warm hearted, emotional and thoroughly engaging read. It's a story that spans a lifetime and is one about the friendship of women, the strength of women and that we are all deserving of love. I absolutely loved it! 

The book revolves around Amanda and Tess, two women who have known each other for decades, but who barely talk, or acknowledge each other, even though they live under the same roof.  Amanda has been married for twenty years and has two teenage children. Her life has revolved around her husband and his needs, but things are about to change when she learns of his infidelity. Tess lives in the basement flat, just as she has done for decades. She is known as a recluse, a not very friendly sort, but why is this? What is her back story? We learn all about Tess and her past, just as we do Amanda's, as we progress through the book. 

Both women are lonely. Tess through her own choosing and Amanda because of a marriage that looks good on the outside but which has very little depth or feeling. 

Both women are very much the opposite of each other. One a mother and a wife, an upper class lady with money and contacts. Tess lives in her tiny basement flat, works as an office temp and has no friends. But, as we read this delightful story, these two women realise that they have more in common than they first thought  

The Girl I Used to Know is a heart-warming and emotional read. It restores your faith in the human race. It is a book about the bonds that women share and that we all deserve to be happy and connected to others. It's a refreshing and delightful read. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
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This book tells the tale of two different women - Tess and Amanda - who don't like each other very much. They both suffer massive betrayals many years apart and it takes time to heal those wounds. Perhaps they will have to rely on each other to make sure the past is the past?

I loved the characters of Amanda and Tess. You could see why they rubbed each other up the wrong way but you could tell they were true and genuine too. Both had dulled their light for a man, even if that man didn't truly appreciate them, and had become quite bitter and judgemental as they got older.

With some shock revelations, the introduction of some interesting characters and finding some new hobbies for themselves, can the ladies become who they are truly meant to be?

This was a fantastic read. I was fully on their side throughout - I think both betrayals are of equal shock factor - and I liked how the novel ended, a happy ending for some characters whilst perhaps not so for others. I'd certainly recommend this for a summer holiday read.
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Chick lit at it's best, i thoroughly enjoyed reading this light hearted romance in the garden this summer.
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It's always a welcomed endeavour to dive into a Faith Hogan story and this one did not disappoint in the slightest. The story invited me in with warmth and love and I felt at ease immediately with the tale that played out before my eyes.

Life is a turbulent venture and the roads we take can lead to unknown places of loneliness. Two women, two different stories but two journeys with many similarities entwine together in this heartfelt plot that had me hooked from the start.

Amanda is surrounded by family and fairweather friends yet still feels a keen sense of loneliness. Tess's struggles has led her to a life alone and yearns for love and forgiveness to drown out the deafening sound of emptiness. Together they forge an unlikely friendship in order to rebuild their life and reclaim happiness.

The writing is engaging and ebbs and flows with heartfelt and poignant emotion. I developed an infinity bond with the difficult and belligerent Tess who's empty life left me bereft and sad....her shattered dreams and tortured love life was a rollercoaster of feelings that still haunt me.

The Girl I Used to Know is a frank look at life and love. It's filled with a keen observation of the consequences of letting life pass before your eyes and is a strong reminder to live each day to the best of our ability and put happiness and real love to the forefront of all that you do. If you have yet to read this stunning story then waste no more time and dive in today.....it's a decision you will not regret.
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This story kinda reminds of when I inhaled Patricia Scanlons books. I absolutely loved this story. The Girl I Used to Know is a refreshing and captivating story that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Amanda and Tess. Two completely different characters living under the same roof. I love how their story was told. 


This was a great story. A well written story ideal as a beach read.
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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"...

MY THOUGHTS

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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