The Girl Next Door, highlights four intersecting stories about the people who live in one particular apartment building in New York. There's Eve and Ed who've recently moved to New York from London; Jason and Kimberley, their young daughter Avery and the Schulmans next door; Violet, the elderly neighbour who's friendly enough, yet remains somewhat distant; Jackson Grayling III, the lazy but incredibly rich bachelor; Charlotte Murphy who lives in a dream world; and a host of other minor, but still memorable, characters.
This book is fantastic. I loved every word and enjoyed reading it immensely. I adored watching the story unfold as the bits and pieces from of the characters lives were interwoven into one cohesive novel. Even though the stories jumps around from story to story and character to character, I found it very easy to follow. I admit that I found the list of characters at the beginning daunting. I couldn't imagine how I was going to keep everyone straight and remember them all. However, Noble is an expert storyteller. She leads the reader through the stories and often provides gentle reminders as to who the characters are.
While the stories remain mostly separate, the characters have interactions with each other and are brought together by the desire for a rooftop garden. Each story provides a little glimpse into their lives: getting the pretty girl's attention, being lonely in the new city, having a baby, falling for the doorman, fantasizing about the next door neighbour, dealing with the infidelity of a partner. It's sort of everyday stuff, which makes this book and its characters so easy to relate to. I think the title reflects that, too. Every one of the characters could be the "girl next door" (or "boy next door"). While their actions were not always admirable, they were genuine and believable.
With so many characters, you'd think there would be at least one I didn't like. Surprisingly, there wasn't. That is, I really liked them all. I especially loved Violet. I was totally memorized by her fascinating and heartbreaking life story as she was telling it to Eve. I also really liked Todd and Gregory because they made me laugh.
Highly recommended. This is probably one of the best books I've read so far this year. I'll definitely be looking for more works by Elizabeth Noble.
For more information about this book, please visit the Penguin Canada website.