Tangerine is the debut novel of Christine Mangan. The story unfolds from the viewpoints of Alice and Lucy both of whom prove to be unreliable narrators but for very different reasons. They had developed a deep friendship at university but an incident resulted in a separation. The story begins with Alice living in Tangiers with her husband John unaware that Lucy is about to arrive on her doorstep.
The book is billed as a psychological thriller and it split opinion in the group. Some felt it was a gripping story well told, a real page turner, whilst others felt it was clichéd and predictable. There isn’t very much action – it concentrates on the thought processes and motivations of the two women unveiling the backstory slowly – but it does build tension. The writing has some quirks of style that irritated some group members. Sadly the voices of the two women are very similar – there could have been more distinction between them.
It sometimes feels as though Mangan is trying to make Tangiers itself a character in the story – John and Lucy both love the city whilst Alice feels frightened by it and as a consequence has confined herself largely to their flat. The writing suggests the heat and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the city, but otherwise it is described in very broad brushstrokes. The story set is at a time when the local population are looking for independence from France and this could have been a really interesting subplot but it barely gets a mention. Alice and Lucy are the only two characters that are really developed – we learn very little about John.
We talked about how we hope times have changed since the 1950s–Alice’s concerns might be taken seriously now rather than being brushed under the carpet.
It has been optioned as a film and there was a general feeling that it will probably make a better film in the right hands.