Three women. Three voices. Three journeys.
Katy, the impressionable teenager, is given misplaced advice from the teen magazines she so loyally clings to. Her mother Corinne is on the road to self-destruction, while her English teacher Jane feels she can help, while having her own story to tell.
Beauty Tips for Girls is a brilliant interwoven trio of stories, three women at different parts of their life facing trouble. One is impressionable, unhappy at home, finding solace on internet forums and basing decisions and self-worth on what Misty magazine tells her. Another is in the hold of alcoholism, while her family battle to not only help her, but to keep caring, not to give up. The other has passed by friends as they got married and had babies, yet here she is, single and without child, in a teaching job without any real idea of where she’s going.
Montgomery’s portrayal of magazine articles from the early noughties is on point, not just through the of-the-time celebrities, but through the ill-advised segments on boob jobs, seeking older men and generally picking apart the looks of every female. When you’ve spent your teens reading these awful magazines, it’s kind of fun to read them in a fictional context and see how ridiculous even the horoscopes can be to the individual scenario.
Beyond that both Jane and Corinne have two excellent, interesting stories; each has a dramatic impact on Katy and, in time, each other. You feel happy at times, sad, hope for change, hope for happiness, you kind of get swept up when each narrative jumps, wondering if each will find a nice, neat resolution.
The only issue is some descriptions seem a bit odd, or characters stare out of windows a lot…
But really, Montgomery’s book is so good that you don’t really lose interest between the jumps, the characters are diverse, facing challenges, but real within their own constructs. Couldn’t put the book down – even while watching the new season of House of Cards, so that’s something!
It’s all day-to-day stuff, real problems, but so charmingly written that I just really enjoyed it.
2nd Mar 2015 | Cargo Publishing