Tangerine by Christine Mangan – Review

“I could already feel that same effect she always had over me: strengthening and emboldening me, her presence serving as an armour I could somehow never manage to affix on my own.”

Tangerine is set in the 1950’s in Tangier, Morocco. We meet Alice first, she followed her husband to Tangier but has struggled with the city. The stifling heat and the crowds cause her to panic. The way her anxiety is described in the first chapter is spot on. Alice’s relationship with her husband is strained, they had a whirlwind romance and it’s clear that he doesn’t understand her fear of going outside or getting lost in Tangier.

We then meet Lucy who went to college with Alice, they were roommates and very close friends. They used to talk about traveling the world together but they lost touch after school. I love the way we see Alice through Lucy’s eyes. Mangan’s style of describing her characters is quite special. The way Lucy idolises Alice and the time they spent together, it’s clear early on that she’s in love with her. Lucy finds out that Alice is now living in Tangier and decides to surprise her with a visit.

But when Lucy shows up on Alice’s doorstep it’s clear that something happened at their school in Vermont. They didn’t simply loose touch, there was an accident, something that has haunted Alice ever since. The way their relationship unfolds is very clever, all the chapters are told from one of the women’s point of view so we get to see both sides of the story.

Alice’s husband John and Lucy do not get on. Lucy can see straight through him to his rotten core. That spells serious trouble for John amd he doesn’t like it. The way all three characters interact is so well written.

John was the problem, the patriarchal head that had to be cut off, the dragon that had to be slain in order to rescue the heroine.”

I have a tendency to relate to more morally ambiguous characters, Lucy is another one. She is manipulative and possessive but she is also deluded and needs help. I’m rooting for both the women still at the end, despite some of Lucy’s actions.

I really enjoyed this book, it was full of twists and turns. It’s a brilliant look into obsession and how dangerous it can be. The style of writing was really interesting and I would definitely recommend it.

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