‘Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.’
If you’re imagining The Sunday Girl to be just another example of ‘revenge’ lit, think again. This debut novel by Pip Drysdale whose philosophy has always been ‘throw yourself in the fire and then write about it,’ is way more intriguing – and complex – than that.
The Sunday Girl is both a gripping game of cat and mouse, and a story about control, abuse, bad boys, the changing landscape of relationships in a tech savvy world – and the madness of an all-consuming love.
It begins as a slow burn: Taylor Bishop falls madly, deeply for the charismatic investment banker Angus Hollingsworth. He showers her with attention and adulation. The sex is good (of course). He even takes her home to meet the parents. Taylor’s his ‘Sunday girl,’ the only one he wants to snuggle up with on a cosy do-nothing day. All this comes crashing down after an argument when he dumps her, breaking her heart into thousands of small pieces.
Through Facebook, Taylor learns that Angus has taken off on the special skiing holiday they’d been planning to go on together. Even more hurtful, he’s taken his ex. Then weird, complimentary messages from strange men begin to flow in. That’s when Taylor discovers Angus has objectified and humiliated her, posting a revealing, intimate video of her online.
A seething Taylor plots revenge. She will return fire with fire by damaging and humiliating him. Technology is her choice of weapon.
But to the horror of her boss, best friend and her mother who all think she’s making a terrible mistake, Taylor weakens and takes Angus back when he comes knocking at her door, repentant and loving.
As the action ramps up, the author takes the time to flesh out the two main protagonists, with some interesting reveals. It’s giving nothing away to say silver-tongued Angus really is a nasty piece of work. Controlling and abusive, highly manipulative, the son of a wealthy family with the morals of an alley cat, except a cat scrounging for fish bones in the rubbish would be more honourable.
Taylor, a millennial, becomes more likeable as the story progresses but she can be annoying. She’s far from stupid, yet sometimes seems a bit daft and makes some classic mistakes. Angus is one of her biggest but it has to be said, there’s probably not many women who haven’t been burned at some point by a bad boy.
Taylor’s back story is an absent father, implying this influenced her romantic relationships, but you imagine there’s plenty of women from secure, loving families who’ve also fallen madly, deeply for the bad boy type.
Again, without giving anything away, things get out of control at a point (as they always do with bad boys) and Taylor plots to destroy Angus, using a famous book of military strategy, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, as her guide.
Each chapter begins with a piece of Sun Tzu’s wisdom, casting an interesting light on the story and the idea of revenge. Just when you think Taylor has the upper hand, Angus mounts his own counter-insurgency, and a toe-curling winner-takes all contest develops, with some unexpected twists. The power of technology to entrap becomes crucial in this chess game with Taylor and Angus becoming locked in a huge and vicious battle.
True evil is finally unmasked and it goes one step too far, with profound and tragic results.
Excellently plotted, original, breezily written, The Sunday Girl, is a hugely entertaining read that begins at a canter and builds to a gallop, taking you on a wild ride.
It’s clever, too, tapping into the zeitgeist – technology, contemporary dating rituals, career struggles, friendship, and the theme of revenge all high on the agenda, with revenge in particular never bigger than it is right now from games to TV series.
About The Author
Pip Drysdale is a writer, actor and musician who grew up in Africa and Australia. At 20 she moved to New York to study acting, worked in indie films and off-off Broadway theatre, started writing songs and made four records. After graduating with a BA in English, Pip moved to London where she dated some interesting men and played shows across Europe. The Sunday Girl is her first novel and she is working on a second.