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The Girl Below

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3.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  401 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Suki Piper is a stranger in her hometown. . . .

After ten years in New Zealand, Suki returns to London, to a city that won't let her in. However, a chance visit with Peggy—an old family friend who still lives in the building where she grew up—convinces Suki that there is a way to reconnect with the life she left behind a decade earlier. But the more involved she becomes wit
...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published June 19th 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,751)
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Blair
This is one of those irritating instances when I really wish I could give a three-and-a-half-star rating. The Girl Below is an odd book - a combination of elements which never quite form a satisfying whole - yet parts of it are hugely enjoyable, and bits of it are actually excellent. It doesn't fit into any genre classification, really: it's definitely not chick-lit, despite the chatty, amusing narrative, but it's too light to be literary fiction. It's probably a family drama more than anything ...more
Kirstin
Mar 22, 2012 Kirstin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Girl Below is a brilliant book. I really loved it - tension and revelation and the painful maturing of the main character Suki sustain it all the way to the end.

The structure is so powerful that I was only dimly aware of how lovely the prose is. Yet on re-reading sections after the first heady rush I could see how cleanly and strongly written it is. I think it’s one of those books that drags you by the hair through a first desperate reading, and allows you to relax and enjoy the mysteries,
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Ryan G
I'm feeling a bit like Typhoid Mary right about now. Not the historical version, more like the Marvel supervillain. My mind has fragmented into a few different reactions regarding this book, and I'm not sure what I'm actually going to be able to say about it. I need to find a way to separate the way I felt about the writing and the way I felt about the story itself. Really not sure if that's even possible, but I'm going to try.

I think I'm going to start off with the writing, or the Mary side of
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Shellie (Layers of Thought)
3.5 stars actually.

Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

A “post-adolescent coming of age” story where the “lost” main character finds herself through a series of events, some paranormal in nature.

About: Told in the first person and mixing the past with the present, the narrator Suki Piper is a young English woman who has just moved home to London from an extended stay in New Zealand. She has come back to her old neighborhood where she lived prior to her mother’s death from cancer. The pro
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Jacqueline King
Jan 01, 2016 Jacqueline King rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hate-hate-hate
I think Bianca Zander should have titled this book The Girl Below the Poverty Line.

Suki Piper is a boring loser with no job, no friends, no boyfriend and no prospects. And that's exactly how the story reads. A hundred pages in I was wondering if the main character was bi-polar and if the story had a point. Two hundred pages in I was skipping pages and found it made no difference to the story line. The last thirty pages didn't make sense at all.
This book was not what I was expecting. I was hopi
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Sarah Laing
Mar 22, 2012 Sarah Laing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Girl Below by Bianca Zander

Okay, first up a confession. I’ve loved this book since its inception. Since the velvet-gloved hand first reached out of the boiler cupboard and pulled Suki’s dress ribbons undone. And mine too. I was utterly struck by this image, and the matter-of-factness with which it was presented. Magic didn’t belong in other worlds; it belonged in ours.

Bianca was in a writing workshop that I attended (convened by Curtis Sittenfeld), and our excitement was palpable when she re
...more
Ab
May 04, 2013 Ab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good, in a dark, mysterious, something-strange-perhaps-supernatural-but-maybe-not kind of way, with the ultimate story being really dark and kind of depressing, actually. But nonetheless, it was a really good, compelling book, I thought. Really well-written, flowed really well, and I'm not entirely sure what actually happened, which I like ... it keeps me wondering, mulling, chewing, thinking. It was reminiscent of Audrey Niffenegger, though nowhere near Niffenegger's lyrica ...more
Nia
Sep 04, 2012 Nia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who has been displaced, in between countries, families or from their own past. This is a story that unpacks a childhood and pieces it back together with a psycho-supernatural twist. I laughed heartily and marvelled at the perfection of a word choice. Loved it, couldn't put it down.
Jaime (Twisting the Lens)
Suki Piper is almost thirty-years-old and returns to London, her hometown for the first 18 years of her life. After living in New Zealand for the past ten years, trying to establish a relationship with her father, she returns to a town that she no longer recognizes, and seems to no longer have a place for her. She is immediately drawn to solve mysteries of her childhood after visiting an old neighbor and befriending her old babysitter. This is where it starts to get strange.
Suki has the fragment
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Laurel-Rain
Jun 05, 2012 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suki Piper has returned to London after a decade long escape to New Zealand. Specifically, she has come back to the old neighborhood in Notting Hill, where her family lived for the first eight years of her life. A place full of memories, some that feel like bits and pieces of surreal images, while others hint at mysterious goings-on that she has struggled for years to piece together and understand.

Soon Suki is once again enmeshed with members of the Wright family: Peggy, the matriarch; Pippa, th
...more
Allison Campbell
Jun 18, 2012 Allison Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
THE GIRL BELOW is an extraordinary first novel suffused with a creepy surrealism that makes the pages turn themselves. The main character, Suki Piper, is twenty-eight years old when she returns to London after over a decade in New Zealand, where she sought her absent father following her mother's death. There is no magical reunion, but Suki remains there, working and sharing a flat. By the time she returns to London, her roots there have all but dried up, and she crashes, increasingly unwelcome, ...more
Marianne Elliott
I loved The Girl Below. A haunting debut novel in which a young woman slips back in time to solve the mysteries of her childhood, including an incident in an air raid shelter that had the hairs up on the back of my neck.

The deliciously creepy (and yet strangely familiar) mystery at the core of this beautifully crafted novel was so compelling that I abandoned everything else on my To Do list today and stayed in bed until I finished it.

Alongside the gripping psychological mystery, The Girl Below
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Jessica
May 15, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written but strange story
Florina
Nov 01, 2014 Florina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books come to you when you need them, I guess. I really needed this book. I can't explain why, but it came to me at the right time. I loved the protagonist and I grew very attached to her voice, in a weirdly emotional way. It may sound morbid, but I adore reading about despair and existential crises because they put my own problems in perspective and offer me relief. So you might be wondering why I didn't give this five stars. Well, while I loved the magical realism, the creepy atmosphere, ...more
Alison
Sep 10, 2014 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow this was creepy, but I could hardly put it down. I don't want to say too much about the plot as there are some great twists, but as it's mentioned in the main description, there are some fantasy/sci fi elements. Not super in your face but definitely there, and I liked how they were integrated. The characters were interesting - and pretty realistic I think - and I liked how things were paced. It's pretty short and I found it to be a very fast and engaging read.
Nadia Daniel
Mar 20, 2013 Nadia Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appetizer
Picked it up for the plane ride down to Florida and was hoping for more magical realism and perhaps a lighter story line which is no fault of the author's. Good prose, well written and interesting plot. The lead character was sufficiently vague and unfocused as a person that I found myself groaning out loud every time she made another terrible choice. Was hoping for a more satisfying explanation of the ghostly visitations she had throughout the story.
Crystal Falconer
This type of fiction is quickly becoming my favorite. The confusion of wondering what is supernatural and what is mental illness is a thrill that I hope to nourish in my literary wanderings (It started with The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry). If anyone has any suggestions in this "type" of literature, please message me the titles!

My official review :)

http://wp.me/p2uXti-2R
Morninglight Mama
Fans of magical realism enjoy literary scenes that don't make much logical sense, and they are able to suspend their disbelief as reality blends with the fantastical. I wasn't prepared for the MR bend in this novel, so I was confused a bit with the first bits of bizarre time-bending action and kept waiting for the character to be diagnosed with a mental illness! In hindsight, reading the interview with the author at the end of the book helped put things into the right perspective to understand t ...more
Khris Sellin
Jul 05, 2013 Khris Sellin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a decade in New Zealand, Suki decides she's ready to head back to her hometown of London... but London isn't exactly welcoming her back with open arms.

A story about digging up the past, family secrets, and learning some hard truths, mixed in with some mystery and creepy, unexplainable happenings.
Erin
Jun 20, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book was compulsively readable. I gave it four stars because it had unpredictable characters, led in directions I wasn't expecting and was more enjoyable than your average read. I felt a little let down by what was actually in the air raid cellar. strange book, worth the read.
Dana
I just couldn't stay interested in this. I couldn't relate to the main character. Her life and her choices are so messed up and it just got tiring.
Lori Poole
Yawn. This one is going in the Little Library down the street...maybe someone else will like it, but too many unaddressed items for me.
Mary Parker
Jan 03, 2013 Mary Parker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, compelling, spine chilling and funny. A bloody great read by an exciting author.
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
'I had the strangest sensation then that I had somehow left the real world behind, and had gone to a place that didn't exist.'

Suki Piper returns to her childhood home in London after an absence of twenty years, the last ten of which she has spent in New Zealand. Recognising a familiar name on the doorbell to one of the neighbouring flats, she pays a visit to the now very ill lady, Peggy, who still lives there and whom she remembers. As a girl Suki was influenced by Peggy’s children, in particula
...more
Angela Oliver
Jun 29, 2015 Angela Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, owned
After the death of her mother, eighteen year old Suki Piper left England to follow her father to New Zealand. Here she existed for the next ten years, drifting through her life with few goals or any real ambition.

Now, in 2003, she has returned to London. But London has forgotten her.

Suki may be twenty-eight, but she still has the lack of maturity that she had exhibited ten years ago. This made her a difficult character for me to feel much empathy towards, as I could not help but watch her drift
...more
Coleen
May 04, 2012 Coleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suki is a young woman essentially trying to find herself. Torn apart by the breakup of her parents' marriage and then her mother's death, she flits around trying to find her correct place in the world. In the meantime, we see flashbacks to some of the more impacting moments of her life. One in particular, an evening of a party at her parents' London flat, is alluded to more frequently. More specifically, an incident in an underground unused air-shelter seems to haunt Suki, and the reader is suck ...more
Jamie
Oct 29, 2014 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The slow build of The Girl Below draws you irresistibly into a well-told and easily loping story of magical realism and desperately human truths, despite any hesitation or skepticism with which you might initially approach. With complex characters, be they singular in their associations and occasionally predictable, the story weaves between time, space, and memory, severing then retying the knots that hold them in place and help our world make sense. The book is creepy and funny, dark and uplift ...more
Tracy Terry
Nov 13, 2013 Tracy Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What could be described as weird, The Girl Below was definitely one of those books that left me wondering just what it was all about. So much so that you may well have thought I'd rate it as a rather poor read but you'd be very much mistaken.

The story of a young woman with mental health issues, part psychological mystery, part ghost story, part time travel - or was it? Still mystified by it all, all I do know is that I thoroughly enjoyed every sentence, every chapter, every page.

Seamlessly weav
...more
Scuzzymonster
I found this book utterly riveting. I wanted to be left alone to finish reading it, and resented anyone or thing that came along to make me stop. Now I'm having trouble pinning down exactly why. The premise is of a 28-year-old returning to London after 10 years in Auckland, and finding out that You Can Never Go Home Again, all of which I can relate to, but otherwise this book doesn't tick boxes I generally like. For a start, although it is set in very real New Zealand and English settings, it do ...more
Leigh Edleman
I easily read The Girl Below in a weekend–partially because it was fairly fast-paced and easy to read and partially because I enjoyed it so much. It’s the perfect mix of mystery and fiction–just enough mystery to be intriguing and keep you wondering, but light enough to allow you to focus on the characters and their story as well.

The Girl Below centers around Suki Piper, who’s in her late 20′s and has returned to London, where she was born and raised, after spending over 10 years in New Zealand
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Bianca Zander was born in Britain but has lived for the last two decades in New Zealand. She is an established journalist who has written for national magazines and newspapers including the The New Zealand Listener, Sunday Star Times, and Dominion Post. In addition, she has produced radio shows and written for film and television. In 2009, she wrote the dramatic short film The Handover, which scre ...more
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