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Title: The Girl in the White Dress
Author: Paul Barrell
Published: 13th of February 2020 – Independently Published
Format: Ebook – 284 pages (Paperback – 248 pages)
Hello Hello! How are you?
Today I’m bringing you another #RandomThingsTours hosted by the lovely Anne Cater for the book The Girl in the White Dress by Paul Barrell. Thank you to Anne for letting me take part in this tour and sending me the book.
I was honestly intrigued when I read the synopsis for this book in the email Anne sent me, it sounded like a really original story although it is inspired by true events and I was excited to read it for myself and find out what Paul’s mystery was. Keep reading for my thoughts on this book!
The Girl In the White Dress is quite simply Unforgettable and Unputdownable. It is based on a true story. Every family has secrets. What if you are guilty of something you can’t remember?
A family from London embarked on the trip of a lifetime to the Caribbean, aboard the cruise ship Oriana.
Thirty years later, following the death of his wife Paul moves to the Peak District with his young daughter. While unpacking he discovers an old menu card from the family holiday on the Oriana. It is covered in personal messages from the ghosts of his childhood. One, in particular, catches his eye, memories are stirred and he begins to dream about a girl from his past. Gradually, with his mother’s help, he starts to unravel the identity of a long-forgotten childhood sweetheart and the disturbing truth behind an incident that took place in their cabin. Something that would implicate his whole family, a Pandora’s box of lies and deceit.
He never saw the girl after the cruise. Their shared guilt had remained hidden for thirty years. That was until today…
The Girl in the White Dress is a standalone mystery novel written by Paul Barrell and inspired by true events. We follow our main character, Paul, who has just moved with his daughter Hope from London to Cheshire, 3 years after the death of his wife. The pair are still trying to come to grips with their loss and Paul thinks that this move is going to be the change they need until he stumbles upon an old menu from a cruise ship he sailed on 30 years prior, and everything in his life changes slowly because of this discovery.
The premise was very interesting and I was intrigued to read about Paul’s experience and find out what happened on the ship, who the girl in the white dress was and why he can only remember snippets that come to him in dreams.
I really enjoyed reading the snippets from the past, either in the form of his dreams or at the start and end of the book when the story goes back to 1974 on the Oriana cruise ship. I think this was my favourite part of the book and I would have loved to read more about this because it was really great.
We follow Paul through his day-to-day life along with his daughter Hope, their dog Lottie, Amber, his mother, and his neighbours. It was really interesting watching the story unfold and to see him trying to come to grips with what happened to him, seeing that it was messing with him and his health, but not being able to discover the truth, even with the help of Amber and his mother.
We don’t get much of a focus on his relationship with Hope, I thought that was a bit of a shame because it seemed like a lot of the book revolved around the death of his wife and I would have liked to see a bit more about him and his daughter.
I thought that this book was nicely paced, the writing style was really nice and the story quickly drew me in, however, I don’t think that I was the right reader for this book. I can really appreciate what it is and I did enjoy my time reading it, but I felt like I was either missing something, or the actual plot was a bit too built up for the final reveal which fell a bit flat.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, I did enjoy my time reading this book, I gave it 3.5 stars and I would definitely recommend it to readers who maybe like more of a day-to-day plot, more realistic elements, and characters and who aren’t expecting a very big reveal. It’s a really good book, just probably not the book for me. It was a lovely reading experience, but as I said, I was expecting something more. I felt like the plot was building up to a bigger event and although I didn’t expect the ending and was surprised, I think I was a bit deflated by the way that the plot was structured.
I did love reading about what happened on the boat and I would really have liked more of an insight into this, maybe some more flashbacks or some more stories because I was really fascinated by that part of the story. The writing style was really immersive and it was an added bonus to have a lot of Paul’s thoughts, to see him going over everything in his head and finally discovering what had been hidden in his brain for over 30 years.
Thank you so much to Anne and Paul for letting me take part in this book and for sending me this book!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this review and will give this book a chance if you think that you will like it! See you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – PAUL BARRELL
Paul Barrell is a keen sportsman and has skied all over the world. He is a serial entrepreneur and has owned restaurants, wine companies and is passionate about food and wine. He came to writing later than most and writes about real events and people that have shaped his life. His first book Postcards from Pimlico is currently being turned into a screenplay for TV. He now lives in the Surrey Hills with his wife and rescue dog Lottie.