Girl One is a gripping, twisty read that sits between science fiction and feminist literature, making it a unique new novel from American author Sara Flannery Murphy.
The world knows them as ‘The Homestead Girls’—nine women who raised nine ‘miracle babies’ on an experimental commune in rural America. The intriguing, isolated Homestead was founded by Dr Joseph Bellanger, who led a radical operation throughout the 1970s, in which nine women had ‘virgin births’—conceived children parthenogenetically, that is without a man. It captivated the world.
After a suspicious fire at the ranch kills both the doctor behind the pioneering experiment and one of the youngest of the girls, the mothers and their children are scattered across the country, some embracing the media spotlight, others refusing to talk about it.
Now years later, Josephine ‘Josie’ Morrow, aka Girl One, is studying medicine, following in the footsteps of her beloved mentor, when she is called home to discover that her mother has vanished, while her house has been trashed. If Josie is to find her, and find her alive, she will need to track down her estranged sisters and finally confront the secrets of their dark past—before it is too late.
Sara Flannery Murphy’s second novel, Girl One, is a thrilling genre-defying read, brilliantly incorporating elements of the supernatural. I eagerly followed Josie on her mission to track down her mother and unravel the truth about the Homestead and the other Girls. I felt each shock, twist and turn alongside her, and trust me when I say—there are many. Josie enlists the help of young journalist Tom to find other Homestead Girls, whom she scarcely knows since the commune was destroyed. This novel doesn’t shy from some disturbing moments and characters; the doctor is particularly callous. But the bond between the Girls, alongside the queer subtext, is what ultimately shines through and leaves the lasting impression.
Josie’s fast-paced narration is interspersed with letters that were written from Joseph to Josie on her birthday each year—cue a shiver up the spine. Newspaper articles from the 1970s, including interviews with Joseph and some of the Mothers and Girls, further illuminate the cult-like, subversive scenario at play here.
Girl One is a gripping read in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, that will have you questioning what is science-fiction and what could be real—which is subversive genre-bending fiction at its best.