Originally published: 12 May 2022
Author: Julie Owen Moylan
Published by: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Reading dates: 16-19 June 2022
In an apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers. Dancing behind closed curtains, mixing cocktails for two, they guard their private lives fiercely. Until someone guesses the truth . . .
Twenty years later in the same apartment, Ava Winters is keeping her own secret. Her mother has become erratic, haunted by something Ava doesn’t understand – until one sweltering July morning, she disappears.
Soon after her mother’s departure, Ava receives a parcel. Addressed simply to ‘Apartment 3B’, it contains a photo of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across it.
Ava does not know what it means or who sent it.
But if she can find out then perhaps she’ll discover the answers she is seeking – and meet the woman at the heart of it all . . .
Set over two timelines That Green Eyed Girl was such an evocative read, capturing New York brilliantly. In 1955 we meet young teachers Dorie and Gillian who are lovers but have to keep it hidden as homosexuality is illegal. When fellow teacher Judith guesses the truth about them, she blackmails Dorie into letting her live in the apartment with them which makes live stressful for the women.
In 1975 we meet Ava Winters, a teenager whose mother has mental health problems and whose father has a younger girlfriend and isn’t that good at being a dad. When she discovers a box addressed to her apartment from Paris, she opens it to find a collection of photographs and letters and sets to try and discover who the box belongs to.
I loved both of the timelines – often when I read a book like this, I secretly tend to like one set of characters more but I genuinely loved both which made That Green Eyed Girl a joy to read. I loved the tenderness of Dorie and Gillian’s relationship but was shocked by the way homosexuals were treated, often being arrested and even having electroshock therapy to try and cure them of their unnatural urges. Gillian especially was terrified about the possibility of being found out.
I felt heartbroken for Ava, left alone when her mum couldn’t cope, with a dad who didn’t do a very good job of stepping up, all while trying to negotiate the hormones and other pressures of being a teenage girl. I loved her ingenuity of trying to find out who the box of belongings belonged to.
The stories overlap in more ways than one and I really liked this. I do love a book set in New York and the atmosphere from the different time periods was evocative and I really felt like I could imagine life for both sets of characters,
A special shout out to the supporting cast! I don’t think I have ever hated a character more than Judith – I’m not sure she has any redeeming features! But Ava’s friend Viola was an absolute darling. She tried so hard to make sure Ava is OK even when Ava won’t share her problems. She perseveres with Ava and eventually manages to break through her barriers to help her.
I absolutely loved That Green Eyes Girl. It is a fabulous historical debut with brilliant characters, heart-breaking storylines and is beautifully written.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger event to celebrate the launch at The Book Bar in London and to hear Julie Owen Moylan speak about her book.
Thank you to Kallie and Michael Joseph for inviting me on the tour and for the proof copy of the book. Take a look at the other great bloggers talking about this book below.
About the author:
JULIE OWEN MOYLAN was born in Cardiff and has worked in a variety of jobs from trainee hairdresser and chip shop attendant at sixteen to business management consultant and college lecturer in her thirties. She then returned to education to complete her Master’s degree in Film before going on to complete a further Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Julie is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and two cats.