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The last person Alice Shipley expected to see when she arrived in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends - once inseparable roommates - haven't spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice - she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice's husband, John, goes missing, and she starts to question everything around her...

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 27, 2018

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About the author

Christine Mangan

3 books499 followers
Christine Mangan has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,071 reviews
Profile Image for Julie .
4,026 reviews58.9k followers
January 9, 2019
Tangerine by Christine Mangan is a 2018 Ecco publication.

I seldom give much credence to author recommendations, having learned a long time ago, that they are mostly meaningless. I've helped authors through various stages of marketing, and trust me, sometimes authors just pull those blurb quotes right out of thin air without even reading the book first.

But… Then I saw that Joyce Carol Oates had written an endorsement for this debut novel, saying:

“As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock—suspenseful and atmospheric.”

I must admit, I was intrigued, and the synopsis did capture my attention. That, along with a few friend reviews, convinced me to see what all the fuss was about.

I can tell you up front this book may not be for everyone, but I really liked it. The time period- 1950’s, the location- Morocco- sets the stage nicely, for a charlatan tale of obsession and manipulation that left me chilled to the core.

Alice and Lucy were roommates until a horrendous incident separated them. Not long afterwards, Alice got married and moved to Morocco. Now, Lucy has decided to take a vacation to Morocco to visit her old friend-showing up unannounced, out of the blue, without an invitation.

‘Everything changes, sooner or later. Time moves along, without constraints- no matter how hard one may attempt to pause, to alter, to rewrite it. Quite simply, there is nothing to stop it, nothing at all.”

Lucy is shocked by her friend’s condition, the way her husband, John, treats her, and is determined to pull the wool from Alice’s eyes and convince her to go back home with her to New York.
Alice remains torn, slowly coming around to Lucy’s way of thinking- until her husband disappears…

This novel is certainly a slow burner, but the atmosphere alone was enough to keep me invested in the story. There are a few minor issues, places that didn’t gel completely, but books centered around fixations and obsessions must allow for a few inconsistencies here and there, as characters create and absorb information and respond to it, occasionally reacting to revelations in unexpected ways, as we would in reality.

“There were moments when I had thought that I did not so much want her as wanted to be her”

This is one twisted and deliciously wicked little tale and does most assuredly have a whisper of Patricia Highsmith running through it, and a knack for leaving one feeling very unsettled, ala Gillian Flynn. I’m not comparing this book or the author to either one of these authors, or their work, but the atmosphere and clever twists on top of layers of mistrust and re-inventions did put me in mind of them, which leads me to believe JCO may have really read this book and her assessment was spot-on. However, this little gem stands on its own merits just fine and this author is definitely one to watch.

I have the feeling this book may end up being underappreciated, which is too bad, because it really is a very worthy competitor, extremely well written, and certainly a cut above the average, over rated, psychological thriller out there, and most definitely falls into the literary thriller category.

As for me, I am almost embarrassingly grateful and quite appreciative of the work done here. There are so few novels, especially within this genre, written with this type of prose, this ability to create such rich characterizations, against such a vivid backdrop.

“I had realized what a hard place it could be. It was not a place where one simply arrived and belonged- no, I imagined it was a process, a trial, even an initiation of sorts, one that only the bravest survived, it was a place that inspired rebellion, a place that demanded it, of its people, of its citizens. A place where everyone had to constantly adapt, struggle, fight for what they wanted.”

I found the novel to be utterly chilling, but understated, quite unnerving, and well- constructed, especially for a debut novel!

I highly recommend this one to readers who enjoy nuanced, atmospheric, sophisticated, and stylish novels of suspense.
Profile Image for Samantha.
385 reviews186 followers
November 10, 2020
Tangerine is one of the worst books I've ever read in my life and it's definitely the worst book I've read this year. This is one of the most poorly written novels that I've ever encountered. It's painful to get through the horrible prose. The plot is straight out of a Lifetime movie, with no surprises or twists. The characters aren't fleshed out or believable. And the way Christine Mangan writes about Morocco and its people is problematic.

The novel is set in 1956 in Tangier, Morocco. Alice is a young wife recently moved to Tangier with her husband. She's overwhelmed by the city and how different it is from her home in England. She's taken to staying in and avoiding everyone. Then one day her former best friend from Bennington College in Vermont shows up on her doorstep. Alice hasn't seen Lucy since a fateful accident. They didn't part on good terms. But Lucy seems to have put it all behind her and wants them to resume their extremely close relationship. Lucy gets Alice to venture out into the city. But the old toxic nature of their relationship is creeping back in and soon everyone is in danger. The story is told alternating between Lucy and Alice's first person narration.

The story hinges on the relationship between Lucy and Alice but I never bought it. This is down to the fact that Mangan doesn't follow the writing maxim to show, not tell. We're just told that they were dependent on each other and obsessed with one another in college and we're supposed to buy it. None of it rings true. I didn't believe any of the relationships in this book. Alice's husband, John, is a horrible boor and there's no glimmer of what made him appealing before/why Alice would have married him. He's given no redeeming qualities, no humanity. He's a one-note caricature. Lucy is very annoying. Alice is an uninspired character. This book is rife with idiotic, inexplicable, and unbelievable behavior. The villain is cartoonish, an over-the-top psychopath complete with an evil laugh. It's all very ridiculous.

Mangan (and her editor) have never heard the adage "kill your darlings." If something can be said in five words, Mangan will say it in thirty-five. She's constantly repeating herself. She over-explains things, providing us with unnecessary details about things that can be assumed or left unsaid. So much of what's conveyed is irrelevant. We have to hear some uninteresting scenes recounted by both Alice and Lucy. The telling of things twice doesn't add any texture or interest to the story. It's boring. The sentences are too long and are awkwardly phrased. Many paragraphs are just two sentences long because of their length. Mangan uses commas where they shouldn't be, as if she likes how 10 commas in one sentence looks on the page. Here's an example: "He let out a short laugh and attempting, it seemed, to lighten his tone, though his words were still short and clipped, said, 'I don't know why you even bothered to call me in here, it doesn't seem as if you need my assistance.'" Phrases like "it seemed," "I noticed," and "I thought" are inserted into descriptions unnecessarily throughout. And the dialogue is bad; people don't talk like that.

Tangerine is replete with filler, including the blank pages in between chapters. It seems as though they were just trying to get the page count up. The characters ruminate on words, their definitions, and using the right words in a pretentious manner. Here's an example:
Covet. It was a peculiar word. One I tended to associate with long, dull lectures on Hawthorne and other early American writers from the Purtian age. I had to look it up once, as part of an essay I had been forced to write in school. What I found was: to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others. There were other definitions. More words, different words, although all of them meant the same thing. But it was that first part that had stayed with me: to desire wrongfully.

It struck me as strangely beautiful and yet frighteningly accurate.
This book is riddled with clichés. It's the kind of book with lines like, "distance was all that was needed to dispel the ghosts of my past." Too many things are compared to the stifling air of Tangier; there are too many similes comparing the mood in a room to said air. In one paragraph Mangan writes of "the hot, unforgiving sun." In the very next paragraph she writes of "the hot, brilliant sun of Morocco." Get a thesaurus and stop being so redundant.

Too many elements of this novel are implausible, unbelievable, and don't add up. Alice's age for example. She started college at seventeen and went for four years. It's been over a year since she left college. That should make at least twenty-one but instead she's only twenty, so she can still be under the guardianship of her aunt who controls her trust fund. It irks me when the timeline of a story is off. When an English major is discussing Wuthering Heights she says, "They [Heathcliff and Cathy] can be difficult for even the most ardent of admirers. Perhaps that's why Emily only ever published one novel?" Emily Brontë only wrote one novel because she died a year after it was published. An English major and lifelong reader professing her love of the Brontës would know that.

I believe there are anachronisms in the novel's handling of lesbianism. Two men on two separate occasions—upon first meeting women from Bennington College—say they've heard funny things about the girls at Bennington, implying lesbianism. It doesn't ring true as something that would be said when first meeting a lady in the 1950s. There are also multiple references to a woman's wearing pants and a blouse making her seem like a lesbian. By 1956, women were definitely wearing pants. Everyone from Katharine Hepburn to Grace Kelly to Audrey Hepburn could be seen wearing trousers. And speaking of lesbians:

The marketing/synopsis is very misleading. The book flap says that John disappears, which I feel is a spoiler since it doesn't occur until two-thirds of the way through. This novel does not revolve around a disappearance, so don't be fooled. As a thriller, it's very lackluster. Everything is as it seems. It makes you wonder why Mangan dragged out the reveal of what really happened with the accident, when it's exactly what it appears to be and just what she kept hinting at.

And now we come to the racism! Ah, yes! Let's set a book in Northern Africa and make it all about white people! Talk about white privilege. There is only one recurring Moroccan character who has a speaking part. The way Tangier is written about and the way the white characters go on about it is nauseating. Tangier is constantly referred to as a woman and it's gross: "he was with a woman he had loved, for better or for worse, and whatever that love had meant to him, he would be with her, Tangier, for the rest of time." Here's another example of the atrocious writing:
It seemed that not even he, with his professed love for Tangier, had been able to foresee the determination of its people to reclaim their independence, to reclaim their Tangier, had refused to acknowledge, to recognize just how important, how absolutely necessary it was to their life, their survival.
What a patronizing, colonizer POV. The way Mangan writes about the Moroccan characters is the worst. Two different Moroccan men are referred to repeatedly as mosquitoes, to be swatted away. And then there's this horrible description of a biracial French and Moroccan woman:
I could see, under the light of the day, that she was most precisely as Youssef had described—a little Moroccan, a little French, the combination resulting in something that arrested one's attention, that seemed to clamor and fight for it, in fact. Her skin was golden, her eyes dark. I thought about John's love of Tangier and decided it all made sense—that his lust should find itself manifested in this creature, this woman who placed her foreignness on display in a way that was suited, designed, to attract a foreigner's eye. I pitied the girl—for that was, I could see now, all that she was. No more than seventeen years old, I guessed.
As a biracial woman of color, that passage really offended me. Mangan dehumanizes her non-white characters, reduces them to "mosquitoes," "creatures," shifty criminals, and exoticized objects of lust. Most white authors shouldn't be allowed to write about people of color, I swear to God. At the very least, there should be mandatory sensitivity training.

I liked Tangerine for the prologue and the first chapter and a half, thanks to the prologue's ambiguous mystery. Then I realized how bad the book was. If I hadn't been reading it for a book club, I wouldn't have finished it. When we find out what the prologue means, it's far from satisfactory. This is a book about a toxic relationship, with unreliable narrators. Throughout you're like, who's crazy? Are they both crazy? Do I care? No, I don't. I think the critics do everyone a disservice by hyping these badly written books before publication so they're automatic bestsellers. It's like saying quality doesn't matter. The content of this novel and the lack of editing are shameful. Aside from the aforementioned problems, the grammar in this book is just sometimes wrong. As well as being overzealous with commas, Mangan overuses and misuses the em dash. Tangerine is melodramatic, needlessly wordy, and offensive. It's tied with The Wife Between Us as the worst and most over-hyped novel of 2018.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,275 followers
March 24, 2018
It is 1956, and Alice Shipley has found refuge from her past in Tangier. She’s nearly able to forget about the night a horrible incident altered the course of her life. But an unexpected visit from Lucy Mason – her college roommate who witnessed the event – threatens to expose the truth. Alice is sure she can withstand a brief visit, but the longer Lucy stays, the more Alice suffers from a familiar sense of uncertainty: Either she can’t trust Lucy, or she can’t trust her own mind.

Tangier and Lucy were the same, I thought. Both unsolvable riddles that refused to leave me in peace. And I had tired of it – of not knowing, of always feeling as though I were on the outside of things, just on the periphery.*

Tangerine’s cover clenches it. The black and white Fifties-era photograph with a pop of acid green that hints at something sour, something off. The frail woman clothed in virtuous white, shielding her eyes against the oppressive sunlight. The shadow of a palm tree in the background, reaching for her like a clawed hand. And the Hitchcockian vibes that scream, “Thriller!” Is it any wonder Tangerine got bumped to the top of Mount TBR?

It’s immediately clear from Tangerine’s opening pages that Mangan’s writing style has a soft, almost feminine quality. It’s delicate yet concise, particularly when it alludes to Alice’s and Lucy’s mental state. Alice suffers from nervous anxiety that manifests, as she describes it, as “a pressure, a grip, one that felt as though it would strangle me, for surely it possessed enough strength, enough power.”* Lucy suffers from a similar “nervous condition,”* one that, as a child, made her prone to phantom pain.

In addition to frayed nerves, Alice and Lucy have something else in common: a secret. The first half of Tangerine hinges on this shared secret – some mysterious incident from their past. Both women are aware of what happened, but neither of them will speak of it. “I decided that something was certainly amiss,” Lucy says upon seeing Alice again for the first time in over a year. “I could feel it for it seemed to fill the very room around us, crackling and sizzling, calling out to be noticed.”*

Though the dialogue is sharp and biting, it’s the unsaid that hits hardest. Tension simmers beneath the surface, and the truth lies hidden between the lines. Unfortunately, Mangan lazily bats at tension with as much enthusiasm as an obese cat. Her application of pressure is so apathetic that the narrative begins to stall. By the midpoint it’s downright stagnant. The story fails to build toward anything. The reveal, and what follows, is limp at best.

Early reviewers have drawn parallels between Tangerine and books by Gillian Flynn – a comparison that’s just laughable. Repeat: This book in no way mirrors the breathless tension and skillfully woven plots found in Gillian Flynn’s novels.

Equally frustrating is the narrative perspective. Chapters alternate between the first-person perspective of Alice and of Lucy. Though both women are quite different – Alice demure and trembling, Lucy cunning and independent – nothing distinguishes their narrative voices from one another.

Fortunately, some momentum is regained in the final quarter of the book. The easy flow of Mangan’s writing style carries Alice and Lucy to an unexpected conclusion – one that will appeal to some and irritate others.

Tangerine would have made a swell film in the 1950’s but, as a book released in modern times, is too subtle and uneventful to have any lingering effect.

*Note: All quotes taken from an Advanced Readers Copy.

Special thanks to Ecco for providing a free ARC of Tangerine in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
January 22, 2019
fulfilling my 2019 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

this is one of those very divisive books. some people were crowing THIS IS THE BOOK OF THE YEAR!! and some were howling WHAT IS THIS GARBAGE?? i read it, fully prepared to be the booknerd arbiter, settling the matter once and for all, so imagine my surprise to find myself feeling the most shruggy of medium-feelings for this book.

i mean, it's... fine. it’s like what if patricia highsmith wrote something kind of boring, or what if a book’s big twist was that … there was no twist?

before i read it, i thought it was going to be a story of an obsessive or co-dependent friendship between women, with a possible lesbian angle, scandalous secrets and murrrrderrrr. i thought it would be twisty feminist psychological suspense where the roles and expectations of women in the 1950’s were stripped away in the freeing anonymity of the expatriate experience, giving formerly constrained ladies the elbow room to become very naughty, indeed.

and it… was? kind of? it’s just not particularly groundbreaking. or resolved.

it starts off strong - i was intrigued with the setup - two former bennington roommates-besties separated after a mysterious incident during their final year; alice is now married, living in tangier, and never leaves her house, until lucy comes back into her life - appearing on her doorstep one day, and manages to coax her out into the bustling world once more. sort of. in this first-glance-intro, their relationship is cautiously affectionate, with an undertone of apprehension, maybe even fear. the book continues in alternating POV chapters that tease the reader with events from the past; the nature of the women’s relationship, the details of alice’s marital strife, her mental and emotional instability, lucy’s mysterious, conflicting background stories, and of course, the INCIDENT that split them asunder &yadda, and all of this is layered on top of the tumult of a tangier on the verge of independence. which, frankly, was a missed opportunity for a stronger feminist angle - the juxtaposition of shaking off the colonialist or the patriarchal shackles. alice can’t shake anything off, even lucy, and lucy never felt much shackled by the patriarchy in her life, so the whole revolution bit is just the “exotic” backdrop for the drama of white people on vacation instead of a thematic parallel. (yes, the unrest simmering into a boil parallels the same dramatic energy in the story of lucy and alice, but - meh.)

again, it’s fine, as long as you don’t go in with expectations. there’s no twist, no thelma and louise lady-triumph, and there’s a lot of really cryptic plot points. there’s a difference between leaving some mysteries unsolved for the reader to chew on and just introducing threads that go nowhere. one is intellectually stimulating, the other is frustrating. we’re left with half-understood events - never really knowing the origin of alice’s fragility or enough of lucy’s background, we don’t know what the extent of their relationship was apart from a few insinuations, whether it was consummated, whether it was even reciprocated, what was alice’s husband’s job, who was the man with the scar, what was lucy’s deal in college? was that love or menace?

there’s a half-noir feel to this story, which could account for some of the ambiguity being a stylistic choice, and if it were limited to psychological ambiguity, i could give it a pass - no one really knows another’s motives (like why lucy “walked on by” on THAT NIGHT), but you can’t just introduce a character who shows up on the doorstep making unsettling threats and then drop him. or, you can, obviously, because she did, but it comes across more sloppy and unresolved than intriguing. i mean, really - IS HE GHOST? IS HE HALLUCINATION? WHY HE MENACE LADY?

apart from that, the split-voice narrative between lucy and alice is not well-differentiated, the resolution relies too heavily on convenience/coincidence/preternatural foresight, and there are just too many unanswered questions overall.

honestly, if i hadn’t just read The Kind Worth Killing, which also featured an antiheroine and similar elements of revenge, murder, and obsession, handled a million times more effectively, i wouldn’t have been this meh about Tangerine.

it’s fine. it’s competent. it’s just not particularly shiny.

ALSO - it was selected as a BN discover book, which goes to show how standards have FALLEN since i stopped being a reader on that panel. i have made this observation in my head for a few other recent inclusions and i am making it for the record now.


feel free to hire me for any book-related needs, world.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,600 reviews24.8k followers
March 6, 2018
Christine Mangan writes a deliciously warped and menacing piece of historical fiction set amidst the sweltering and sweat ridden heat of Tangier in Morocco. This is a twisted psychological thriller narrated from the point of view of the nervously anxious and isolated Alice Shipley, recently married to John, and her once close friend, Lucy Mason. Alice and Lucy, women from different ends of the social and economic strata, were room mates at Bennington College in Vermont, whose relationship fractured after an incident on a dark and stormy night. Since then, there has been no communication between them. The narrative is relayed from the perspective of Alice and Lucy, both unreliable narrators, in this creepy tale of love, obsession, deception, fading dreams and revenge. The location is a character in its own right as Mangan evokes an atmospheric and detailed sense of place, people, geography, history and period.

Alice is trapped in her home, afraid of venturing out in Tangier, whilst her husband, John, is in his element. She is caught unawares when Lucy turns up. A confident Lucy pushes Alice into exploring the city, its people and its vibrant markets. However, there is the inescapable feelings of things that matter not being talked about but hovering below the radar ominously. The two women have markedly different recollections of that night in Vermont. It is not long before Alice feels a crushing feeling of unease in the company of Lucy, feeling pushed into corners in her life and manipulated. John disappears, which heightens Alice's frayed nerves, wondering if her mind is failing her or if Lucy is the source of her travails.

Mangan writes a compelling and twisted novel, full of intrigue, with chilling undercurrents of friendships and relationships moving into toxic territory amidst a background of an exotic Tangier and Morocco. There are times when the writing does feel a little uneven on occasion, nevertheless, this book weaves a beguiling and unsettling spell as we wonder just how it will all unfold, although we are rock solid certain all will not end well. A bitter beautifully written story of murky relationships that succeeded in keeping my attention with ease, which I recommend to those who have a penchant for the twisted. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.
Profile Image for Truman32.
344 reviews99 followers
July 8, 2020
Like a Nestle Toll House Ultimate Chocolate Chip Lovers break and bake cookie that was only in the oven for 3 minutes Christine Mangan’s thriller, Tangerine, is a half-baked mess. Actually that might not be an accurate metaphor as that cookie would still be wonderful, if somewhat gooey and drippy. Tangerine is more like a half-baked fugu puffer-fish meal, its poor preparation causing the reader severe agony as toxins invade their body. Painful death is a forgone conclusion.

Tangerine begins in an intriguing fashion. Alice Shipley, now living in Tangiers, is visited by her old Bennington classmate, Lucy Mason. While at college Lucy and Alice were inseparable. But then Lucy began to act strangely. She became jealous of Alice’s relationship with her boyfriend, started wearing her clothes and taking her jewelry, eventually single white femaling her. Or did she? Alice is mentally fragile, maybe even delusional. Even she is not sure of what she is seeing. Now, back in Tangiers Lucy has shown up again, attaching herself to Alice’s life like nothing dark had ever happened.

It all sounds great—the set-up, the locale of Morocco, the time period of 1956. The execution however is derivative of better stories. The tale is so malnourished and scrawny I had half a mind to report Mangan to the literature branch of Family Services for abuse. The paths Mangan chooses to take her tale are unimaginative and strangely uneventful. Tangerine is an empty piñata –there are no surprises just a sad (if colorful) husk once you tear it open.

Maybe Mangan was spellbound by the seven-figure advance for her book. Maybe it was Scarlet Johansson and George Clooney scooping up the film rights before this novel was even published—I hear Clooney’s dimples can make women do the darndest things. Either way, Tangerine is an underworked disappointment that deserves to be pelted with rotten produce. I myself will be clearing out the old Tupperware containers from my fridge this weekend and bombarding Tangerine with hardened leftovers. I apologize in advance to the library I borrowed this from.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,051 reviews578 followers
November 28, 2020
Set largely in 1950’s Morocco, this book introduces us to two girls who first meet at an exclusive American finishing school. Something happens there, something bad, but we’ll not find out exactly what for some time. Alice is from England and having lost her parents early she is shipped off to Bennington College, in Vermont, by her guardian aunt. There she meets an American girl, Lucy. The two are to become inseparable roommates. Until the accident, that is.

But all this is captured in flashback, when we first meet Alice she’s already married and is living in the Moroccan city of Tangier, with her husband. In reality, she rarely leaves her home. She’s scared and doesn’t like the heat and bustle of the place. We’re constantly reminded that she’s haunted by the incident in her past and it’s no real surprise when Lucy turns up, knocking on her door.

As the story unfolds we get a real sense of the city itself – as much a character in this book as Alice and Lucy. The writing is beautiful and evokes the smells and colours and vibrancy of this city on it’s eve of independence. The story itself begins to take the form of a psychological thriller as the reuniting of the two women reignites thoughts of past events. What exactly is Lucy’s motivation for tracking Lucy down? And why is Alice so cool with her upon her arrival?

It’s here that I get a little confused about my views concerning this book. On the whole, I think it’s really well written and I believe the initial character development and scene setting is first class. My concerns, though, started to surface in the second half of the tale: as the action began to heat up what felt like a wholly contrived plot began to be pieced together. I’m not going to go into detail, but there are any number of small actions taken that on their own seem inconsequential but when added together end up bringing about what felt to me like a highly unlikely scenario. The writing is excellent but the conclusion of this piece is dependent on too many seemingly random actions delivering up the precise outcomes required to allow it all to fit together. It's an enjoyable read nonetheless and my thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for providing an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,368 followers
April 11, 2018
4.25 STARS

What is it about obsessive friendships between women that are so appealing to read about? I’m always drawn to books that feature this type of female-frenemy-relationship. I think there is so much more that can be added to the plot than just the usual he/she torrid love/hate affair that dominate this genre’s selections.

Tangerine is truly my idea of a dreamy, escapist novel. It is first and foremost a character analysis of two women that meet at a high-brow East Coast university as roommates. Lucy and Alice each depict two distinctive and contrasting personalities. One is meek, timid, hand-wringing. The other is brazen, steely, opportunistic. Mixed and stirred like an ice cold martini, the result is pure toxic poison with only one dreaded outcome.

TANGERINE takes place mostly in Tangier, Morocco, during a political uprising in the 1950’s. One year after university, the women meet in the exotic desert setting of Tangier. The word "atmospheric" is thrown around to describe a lot of fiction these days, but in this case, atmospheric is more than an accurate label.

Christine Mangan is a lovely, old-fashioned writer. She's a new author and I'm not exaggerating to say that TANGERINE will remind you of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Mangan doesn’t linger on descriptions, but the reader is always very aware of the setting and mood and it feels authentic.

The book's cover is sheer perfection for setting the mood and, plus, it reads like film noir. This is a combination of several different stories (THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE come to mind) but it still feels fresh and original. It is light on action and I feel I should warn you, some readers will find this style of writing a little repetitive. However, I adore the slow burn and did find it suspenseful with tension growing throughout. It is a book for fans of Unraveling Oliver.

A quiet, beautifully written, fascinating portrayal of the complicated connection between sociopath and victim.

BONUS! The audiobook is exceptionally well done! Lucy sounds exactly like Scarlett Johansson (but it’s not her, I checked). However, the real ScarJo is already cast to play Lucy in the upcoming film production. Perfect choice!
Profile Image for Jill.
349 reviews338 followers
September 8, 2018
Severely underbaked. There is nothing substantive about Christine Mangan's debut novel Tangerine. The two protagonists who recount the story in alternating chapters--authors, please stop with the indistinguishable dual POVs!--are ghosts of far more fascinating characters found in a Daphne du Maurier or Shirley Jackson novel. Described by Mangan, her setting of Tangier is less exotic port city perched on the Strait of Gibraltar and more movie set on a second-rate studio's Hollywood lot. And the plot--well, there's not much to say here because there isn't one.

For a psychological thriller, thrilling moments are hard to find. In the opening pages, we are warned of a terrible tragedy that occurred one year ago and are promised an even more terrible tragedy to come. Don't be fooled. This foreshadowing is just as hollow as Mangan's characters, plot, and setting.

If you're searching for female friendship, gaslighting, and a foreign backdrop, read Delphine de Vigan's Based on a True Story instead.
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
474 reviews365 followers
August 3, 2018
Am I the only one who got really strong Talented Mr Ripley vibes from this book? I can't believe it's not mentioned on the blurb as the publishers are so eager to label books as "for fans of such and such"

If you liked Ripley, you'll love this book. I really find this very much alike Patricia Highsmith's work.

A tense psychological thriller set in Tangier; Tangerine introduces us the uneasy friendship between Alice and Lucy.

My friendship with Alice was something that John could not understand, but more than that, it was something he did not like. I could see that now clearly. I tainted her, altered her-or his perception of her, at any rate. Our friendship was a detriment to her character, something that he wished to expunge.

Alice marries John and they move to Tangier from the States. Her friend- an ex-roommate from school- Lucy just shows up one day- uninvited. As her visit stretches with no visible departure date; the tension between them increases. What has happened between Alice and Lucy a year ago and why did Lucy came to Tangier?

This is not a surprise ending book but a very well-written psychological thriller. It was engaging until the end.

Thanks for NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jan.
424 reviews252 followers
July 22, 2018
Well this one has it all!

-Unreliable narratives ✔️
-Mysterious pasts; surrounded in secrets, lies, and innuendos ✔️
-Dark, haunting and atmospheric ✔️
-Craziness and delusion abound...all the while not knowing which one is truly the psychotic one ✔️

This was a slow creeper for me, but the tension was tight throughout and I honestly didn't know who was the protagonist versus the antagonist until it was finally revealed just over the halfway mark.
Told from 2 POV's covering both past and present, this is a disturbing look at friendship, obsession, greed and the lengths people will go to get what they want.

Highly recommend!
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 16 books1,511 followers
May 30, 2020
Sorry, couldn't finish this one. It was too slow of a burn. I needed more to hold me in.

Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews991 followers
March 21, 2018
I really fell into Tangerine – a tautly plotted purely character driven psychological drama where the setting is one of those characters – haunting and highly engaging, this is the story of a toxic friendship playing out against the backdrop of Tangier in a time of turmoil..

The imagery in this novel is astounding – you really feel like you are walking the streets of Tangier with our main protagonists – but it is so simply done, with no need for exposition or endless descriptive passages, the place is just there, underneath the actions of the characters and you sense it on every page. Then we have Alice and Lucy – told in alternating chapters from their points of view, these girls met at Bennington, a finishing college if you like and became close friends fast. But a tragedy separated them and put Alice into a dark place, from which it seems she has still not emerged. Lucy has followed her across continents, but is it loyalty or something more sinister? As their tales are told, there is a distinct and urgent sense of menace about it, the author drawing the reader into this vivid, vibrant world where there is danger at every turn..

Tangerine is unsettling, unexpected at times, plays on different versions of events but eventually the truth emerges – taking us into an ending that is razor sharp and emotionally disturbing. A clever, layered novel that will appeal to fans of the literary psychological thriller and readers like me who love a classic unreliable narrator done in old school style.

We are all unreliable narrators of our own realities…

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews515 followers
December 11, 2018
"The Talented Ms. R. Hipley" or "Citrus White Female"

Nice sloe fizz though not particularly novel in story or setting.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,844 reviews517 followers
April 1, 2018
"I knew her, Alice, better than she knew herself, could anticipate every action and reaction before they had ever occurred to her. I sunk to the floor, my fingers grasping the Berber carpet beneath me, my nails turning white against the pressure as I clutched at its frayed edges." Alice and her husband John have moved to Tangier soon after their marriage. Alice has a history of mental instability and she has a difficult time adjusting to Tangier and rarely leaves their apartment. Alice is troubled by several past events including the deaths of her parents and a mysterious tragedy that occurred while Alice was a student at Bennington. Lucy, Alice's former college roommate, makes a surprise visit to Tangier. Their separation over a year ago was somehow related to that mysterious tragedy.

The plot of this book was quite predictable, but the book did hold my interest. My major problem was with the lack of pacing. The writing is seriously overwrought from the beginning, so there is no build up of tension. Both women are in full tilt drama queen mode throughout. I've seen this book compared to "The Talented Mister Ripley" but that's really an insult to Patricia Highsmith. This will be made into a movie, of course, but my favorite part of the book was the cover.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,014 reviews364 followers
July 30, 2022
An Hitchcock Movie on a Paper Screen

Let me start by introducing the main characters of this novel:

Lucy, John and Alice:

Lucy is manipulative, a psychological gambler with a strong aura of fakenness.

Alice is frail, out of place, and we feel her lonelinness even when she's surrounded by others.

John is shallow, egotistical and cynical. He's married to Alice but they don't seem to share a great deal of intimacy.

Lucy and Alice have once been like sisters, but something happened that put an end to their friendship bond — a secret persistently teasing us, and we must refrain from jumping pages to lift that veil, just in case we miss any clue or detail of a plot where everything or something could be much or slightly relevant.

“Tangerine” is a charismatic and enigmatic novel where all the main characters are elaborated and psichologically sophisticated.
Reading it, is like watching  an Hitchcock movie on paper 😉
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,014 reviews364 followers
July 30, 2022
Hitchcock em Papel

Permitam que vos apresente o trio que protagoniza este plot:

Lucy, John e Alice:

Lucy é manipuladora e calculista — uma jogadora psicológica sempre em busca das melhores cartas que são criteriosamente guardadas até surgirem os momentos certos.

Alice é frágil, inadaptada e mesmo quando acompanhada, sentimo-la numa aura de solidão.

John é o marido de Alice — superficial, egoísta e cínico, não tem Alice em grande conta.

Lucy e Alice foram em tempos melhores amigas, mas algo sucedeu que cortou o forte laço que as unia — um acidente algures no passado, que produz em nós um forte ensejo de saltar páginas para deslindar esse enigma provocador. Porém, é conveniente resistir, não vá algum detalhe mais ou menos relevante, perder-se nalgum salto mais alargado 😉

“Ao Sol de Tânger” é uma viagem à exótica cidade de Tânger, e só falta o camelo 🐫 para nos sentirmos realmente por lá. É um romance carismático e enigmático, com personagens elaboradas e psicologicamente sofisticadas. Lê-lo ... é qualquer coisa como assistir a um filme de Hitchcock projectado em papel 😉
Profile Image for Susan.
2,640 reviews598 followers
March 8, 2018
Set in 1950’s Morocco, this is an atmospheric novel about obsession, jealousy and identity. Alice is living in Tangiers with her husband, John McAllister. The marriage is not a huge success; it was virtually arranged by Alice’s aunt and is mutually beneficial. Besides sneering at her for her refusal to throw herself into the heat and life of the city, and her seeming inability to fill the nursery of their apartment, John leaves her pretty much alone. She ignores his drinking and affairs and he provides some sort of security for her, while enjoying living off her allowance.

One day, while hiding out in their apartment, Alice is shocked by a sudden visitor. It is Lucy Mason, who knew young Alice Shipley, when they were both students at Bennington College in Vermont. Lucy was a scholarship girl, who drew the quieter, more reserved, Alice, into an exclusive relationship. We know that something terrible happened, but this does not become clear until further into the novel. Certainly, though, it seems that Lucy is manipulative and that she is determined to keep hold of Alice, now she has found her.

This novel has a good setting, with the city of Tangiers very important to the storyline. There is the guide, Youssef, who is known to prey on unsuspecting tourists. The winding roads, the market that Alice dares not shop at, the crowds, stray dogs and the unrelenting heat. This has been compared to Highsmith and Tartt – it isn’t nearly in that league, but then comparisons are unfair and it is an interesting read and an assured debut.

Profile Image for Stacey.
874 reviews161 followers
May 31, 2018
Make yourself a steaming cup of mint tea and first admire the cover then be prepared to be transported to Tangier.

Alice and Lucy were roommates in college in Vermont and the best of friends when an unfortunate accident happened and served as a wedge between them. Out of touch for a year imagine Alice's surprise to see Lucy in Tangier. The personalities of the two couldn't be more opposite. Alice is the meek, introverted type while Lucy is outspoken. Determined to rekindle their friendship, Lucy does what she can to get Alice out and explore the beautiful country. But like the sweltering, stifling heat, Lucy is met with resistance. Lucy is hell bent on getting Alice to see how much their friendship was meant to be that we enter murky waters. How far will Lucy go to get what she wants? Does the past come back to haunt her?

I loved this novel. The writing was delicious, the setting atmospheric, and the story had a noir feel.
Profile Image for Dianne.
559 reviews906 followers
June 10, 2018
Nicely done debut from Mangan with a real throwback vibe. The story takes place, for the most part, in 1950's Tangiers.

Lucy and Alice are college roommates at Bennington College. Alice is anxious, compliant. Lucy is calm, dominant, mysterious. They become a very self-sufficient and isolated twosome until Alice embarks on a romance with Tom. Lucy, jealous, simmers as Alice begins to become more independent. Tensions rise until a terrible accident separates them.

Several years later, Alice is married to John and is living in Tangiers. One day, most unexpectedly, Lucy shows up on her doorstep. What is Lucy doing there? What does she want?

Think "The Talented Mr. Ripley;" think Patricia Highsmith; think Alfred Hitchcock. This is a pyschological thriller that will keep you turning the pages. It's not without flaws, however. I found it repetitive at times and I had a hard time with Alice's wishy-washy personality. I think the tension could have been tighter, had a more vice-like claustrophobia as the noose tightened but, for me, the ending fell a little flat.

Still, I enjoyed the ride and very much enjoyed the atmosphere Mangan wove around Tangiers. Very unsettling, foreign and oppressive - the perfect setting for this story. And that cover. Marvelous!!!
Profile Image for Kelli.
850 reviews394 followers
April 2, 2018
I can’t get into this. I’ve tried the audio and the book. Moving on...
Profile Image for Bill Kupersmith.
Author 1 book196 followers
April 1, 2018
A favorite subject is the unequal friendship, especially with best friends at school or college. Here it’s Bennington in the fifties when it was a women’s college and the BFs and roommates are Alice, a wealthy English orphan, and Lucy, a local scholarship girl (or “shipper” in collegiate slang). An incident their senior year—referred to as “the accident”—led to their estrangement. Alice returned to England, married John, a man of somewhat dubious character, and moved to Tangier (which of course is where Westerners sojourned to indulge tastes that might well have got them into trouble at home). A year later and tired of a boring life in New York, Lucy follows her friend to Tangier and is received as a houseguest. Differences in social and financial status render such relationships intrinsically fissile; either the upper-class character treats her acolyte as a disposable toy, or the lower-class one schemes to take advantage of and manipulate the superior. For about half of this book I was on tenterhooks to find out whether Alice or Lucy or even both would turn out villains, while the plot unfolded with glacial pace. But in the latter part I found I so disliked both of them that I scarcely cared. One seemed hopelessly dependent and passive and the other both obsessive and totally amoral and unfeeling. And yet the plot gathered speed to drive me to finish. I was relieved that I cared for neither because the ending was morally and spiritually extremely disturbing. As I read I found my sympathies shifting back and forth between Lucy and Alice, till finally the identity of the victim is established. Fortunately, not only are the characters beyond credibility, but the villain’s machinations (in one incident in the backstory, literally requiring a mechanic, which would have been a most unlikely job for a woman in the fifties) impossibly fortuitous and contrived, needing preternatural foresight, quick-wittedness, and impossible stupidity on the part of the victim and the police. (Not to mention shifting a corpse on a cliff side – several times!) So when I reached the end, I felt thoroughly depressed, but as one does after reading Othello, am comforted by the assurance it couldn’t happen in real life.

Tangerine sated my fascination with revisiting the fifties, that began with The After Party and continued with the Invitation and The Italian Party. As we could expect with the “wrong side of the Mediterranean” Tangier seems the sort of place sleazy people go to indulge in activities they’d not want known when they are at home, so the upsetting conclusion is most appropriate. But though I didn’t enjoy this book and wish I’d not read it, like Durrell’s Justine the louche (I so seldom have a chance to use that word) atmosphere of the North African continent is so thick you can scarcely breathe. In such a hot and dusty phantasmagorical setting, with the wind blowing in from the desert, you’ll almost start to believe something like this could have occurred, but long ago and in another country.
Profile Image for Lotte.
546 reviews1,105 followers
February 23, 2019
3.75/5. For a reader like me, this book had everything going for it: It’s a literary thriller set in the 1950s in Tangier, Morocco. Everything about it (from the Hitchcockian cover to the distinct setting and the plot) feels very much like a nod to the suspense and noir genre, which I'm a huge fan of. Unfolding in dual perspectives, it’s a story about an obsessive, possibly destructive female friendship, which plays with the Doppelgänger motif that I find endlessly interesting (I think we can all agree that Daphne du Maurer perfected this in Rebecca). Plus, the writing has a very stylish quality to it. It’s atmospheric, sometimes even downright sinister. All things I love in novels and can read different variations of over and over again without getting tired of it.
And while this book started out pretty strong, it wasted so much of its potential in the last third or so. Without giving too much away, I feel like it should've kept some of its original ambiguity that it completely lost in the last 100 pages and particularly in the final chapter. Simultaneously, I feel like some plot points deserved further exploration and explanation. It over-explained some aspects I definitely didn’t need it to, and remained overly cryptic when I wanted more information.
This being said, it’s a good book and definitely worth a read if it sounds like something you might enjoy, but I feel like in the hands of a different author it could’ve been better than it was.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,766 reviews4,232 followers
February 12, 2018
I read Tangerine in its entirety in one evening. I predict this is going to be a popular beach read this summer. It's perfect for that gulp-it-down-in-one type of reading that seems to lend itself to lazy holidays, and its major strength is Mangan's ability to evoke both the romance of an exotic setting and the feeling of being a stranger in such a place.

It's 1956 and recently-married Alice is living in Tangier, Morocco, where her husband John works. John adores the city and is thriving there, but its loud, busy streets have made Alice so anxious she no longer leaves their apartment. Friendless and isolated, she spends the long, hot days indoors, trying to work up the courage to go out to the market. Meanwhile, Alice's old college roommate Lucy is making her own journey to Tangier, relishing the thought of reuniting with her friend. Yet when Lucy arrives on Alice's doorstep it is immediately clear their relationship is strained and awkward, haunted by intimations of a mysterious incident a year earlier.

From here, it progresses as you might expect: Alice and Lucy take turns narrating; we delve into their pasts, learning how they became friends, tension building as we wait to find out exactly what this incident was. Both women are inevitably unreliable, and regard and remember each other differently. (At their first meeting, Lucy sees Alice's virtually invisible makeup as a symbol of her expensive put-togetherness, while Alice, in her version, remembers wearing a lot of makeup and feeling garishly painted in contrast to Lucy.) The overlaps in their stories are, perhaps, even more interesting than the points at which the accounts diverge. Lucy coaxes Alice out of her cocoon and the two explore Tangier, and all the while we're aware a dramatic event is bound to disturb their newfound contentment – if only because something of the sort is mentioned in the blurb, although it doesn't happen until quite late in the book.

I did wish there was a little more to it, though; the few glimpses we get of the friends' past are so juicy it's difficult to be satisfied with their slightness. (That scene with the bracelet made my skin crawl!) Occasionally I couldn't figure out whether certain features of the narrative were intentional, and therefore significant, or just oversights. For example, when relating different versions of their shared history, both Alice and Lucy mention experiencing a chill so extreme they felt they 'would never be warm again'. Initially I found this intriguing, but when I came across a third use of the phrase, I started to wonder whether the author simply didn't realise she'd repeated it. There was quite a lot of repetition in the version of Tangerine I read, but I assume at least some of this will be edited out for publication.

From The Talented Mr Ripley to Notes on a Scandal, toxic, obsessive friendship is a topic ripe for drama, the perfect foundation for a riveting yarn. The stories aren't particularly similar, but this book most reminded me of M.L. Rio's If We Were Villains in that it is an almost foolproof formula executed well; a plot I have encountered many times before and am virtually guaranteed to enjoy if it's written with sufficient flair. Tangerine certainly is, though it may not be the type of novel that lingers long in the memory.

If you enjoyed this, I'd recommend The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell and Look at Me by Sarah Duguid.

I received an advance review copy of Tangerine from the publisher through Edelweiss.

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Profile Image for Zoe.
1,818 reviews170 followers
June 7, 2018
Chilling, atmospheric, and ominous!

Tangerine is a well-paced, psychological thriller set in Tangier, Morocco that is told from two different perspectives. Alice, a wealthy, fragile, young woman with a history of tragedy and a husband and new home she's not entirely comfortable or content with. And Lucy, a dangerous, manipulative young lady who seems to lack a conscience and be driven by an unhealthy, violent obsession.

The writing is taut and vividly descriptive. The characters are complex, flawed, and highly unstable. And the plot, using alternating chapters, does a superb job of building tension and unease as it subtly unravels and intertwines an intricate web of lies, secrets, pretense, desperation, infatuation, violence, and murder.

Overall, Tangerine is a fantastic debut for Mangan that transports you to another time and place and reminds you that some friendships are not only toxic but often deadly.

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

All my reviews can be found on my blog at https://whatsbetterthanbooks.com
Profile Image for Emma.
2,433 reviews828 followers
March 27, 2018
This was excellent! In the blurb it said this was for fans of Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith. And this turned out, happily to be exactly right. A story in an evocative setting, this psychological thriller did not disappoint. A tale of obsession, paranoia, insanity and deception, where you fear for one of the characters and marvel at the sheer creepiness of the other. A tale of a toxic and unhealthy friendship if ever there was one. Recommended.
Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Janelle Janson.
709 reviews440 followers
March 25, 2018
Thank you so much to Ecco Books for providing my free copy of TANGERINE by Christine Mangan - all opinions are my own.

This is a stunning psychological suspense debut that reminds me so much of Patricia Highsmith who I LOVE! And for full transparency I should disclose that I am a categorical fan of the psychological thriller genre, and TANGERINE is one of my new top favorites! Gorgeous, mysterious prose that you can just sink your teeth into.

The story is set in the 1950’s and centers on a friendship between Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason. Alice moves to Tangier, Morocco with her new husband, and Lucy, an old college roommate, just shows up one day uninvited. As it becomes apparent that Lucy has no plans to leave, tension rises. What happened in the past that made her come to Tangier?

The novel is divided up into three parts and the chapters alternate between Alice and Lucy. The descriptive language and imagery give a full color visual of the setting and the character development is superb. I absolutely love Mangan’s writing style and as we delve into the women’s past, I enjoyed slowly peeling back the layers of this story. With a devious, chilling, and murderous plot, I thoroughly devoured this book in one sitting! And can we just take a moment to appreciate this BEAUTIFUL cover?!! It’s breathtaking!
Profile Image for LA Cantrell.
424 reviews544 followers
April 29, 2018
I've got a thing for exotic places, Morocco especially, and the personality of Tangier - with that city's name having changed each time it was conquered since 5BC - was my favorite character here. Another delight was that the first odd little chapter tied beautifully with the last, shedding sunlight onto one of the book's mysteries. There were admirable aspects to this book - burning one's fingers on the scalding glasses of boiled mint tea "one can get used to anything" and a little nod to the espionage that went on in this city in the 1950s. There were some subtleties that played out very well if the reader paid attention.

As a tourist planning adventures over the years, travel pamphlets and articles have always colored my anticipation of upcoming destinations. Likewise, many of the ho-hum star ratings on this book Tangerine convinced me to keep my expectations in check. That actually made my experience a bit sweeter. I walked into the pages - or in this case the audio - expecting the usual plug-and-play aspects of today's women's psycho-suspense tales. You know what I'm talking about - on the usual menu is the requisite unreliable narrator, a husband who may or may not be unfaithful and/or have other secrets, and the desire of the females in the story to break free of society's roles for them. And of course, a sense of dread.

There are two alternating voices in the chapters here, and we know that one is weak, emotionally damaged, and possibly a bit off kilter. The other sees herself as an outsider, the scholarship girl at a posh blue-blood college who is determined to make things right in the world... or at least in her world. I enjoyed the replay of the relationship between the two in years' past and in the mid 1950s. Yes, there were lies and intrigue of course, but the author did a nice job in pulling in a side character or two to twist them into some nasty little knots. The description of Café Hafa on the cliffs, its funny little contraption for waiters to carry multiple steaming glasses of tea - half brown on the bottom and topped with a dark, algae green slab of mint juice - and with its tombs from the time of the Phoenicians were excellent. Google some images and you'll see exactly what she described here.

Now, this isn't a suspense story in the 'fun' sense like we experienced with Gone Girl, but more a foreboding tale that reminded me a bit of The Talented Mr. Ripley. This new author, Mangan, is indeed talented, and although I'd have loved more to this book, I'll be keeping an eye out for what she writes next. I'm ready for another journey with her.
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,922 reviews733 followers
July 26, 2018
If anyone in the US wants this book, it is yours. Free. I'll pay to get it to you.

Good grief.

Well, as much as I try to select books that I think I will enjoy, I have to admit that this wasn't one of them. Have you ever read a book and come to a certain point where you say to yourself "I've read this before?" It's not even that I figured out the plot with this one -- it's that I'd actually read this before. Change the sex, change the location and no matter what, it still comes out like a version of Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, so much so that at one point I considered putting it down because I just knew with certainty how it was going to end. I hung on through the end, and I was so right. Mix that with some of the elements of a Victorian gothic/sensation novel and well, that's this book. It wasn't all bad, though ... the backstory of the two main characters was very nicely done and had the author proceeded along a different path than Highsmith's, it could have been right up my alley. Sadly she didn't and it wasn't. Not one I can recommend, really, and I feel bad about that, but it is what it is.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,762 followers
August 12, 2018
Tangerine is rather a hot mess, chockfull of clichés and tropes, burdened with foreshadowing and paint-by-numbers narrative, but dang if I didn't read it in two gloriously indulgent chunks.

Christine Mangan's debut is a highly-stylized homage to the sexually-charged thrillers of Highsmith, the gothic contrivances of Brontë, and the North African dreamlogues of Bowles, set in the Moroccan city of Tangier in the late 1950s. Throw in a little Hitchcockian intrigue and a cast of secondary characters straight off the set of Casablanca and you have a book that seems to ripe for the big screen. Not surprisingly, George Clooney's production company has optioned it, with Scarlett Johansson playing the lead. Which lead I'm not certain, for two women headline this show: the pale, fragile, wisp of an expat, Alice Shipley, who hides in the cool shadows of her Tangier apartment, frightened and depressed; and her former college roommate, dark and sultry Lucy Mason, who inexplicably arrives on Alice's doorstep one day and makes herself right at home. The narrative flits back and forth between the present and the women's recent past together at Vermont's Bennington College, where a friendship went bizarrely astray, with tragic consequences.

If you don't concern yourself overmuch with logic and can stomach a little melodrama, this is a fun, delicious read. I set it aside only to Google travel articles about Morocco. I'm ready to go.
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