Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Published by Ecco on March 27, 2018
Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction, suspense
Format & Length: e-book, 320
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The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. 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 Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.
Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.
I’ve seen Tangerine garner a lot of mixed reviews and I understand why. After finishing it myself, I still wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it.
“The air in Tangier, I had already begun to notice, moved slowly and without any real insistence.”
Set in Morocco in the 1950’s, Mangan creates an atmosphere in which Tangier almost becomes a character in the story. However, the language she uses to do so is a double edged sword for me as a reader. She takes time to build everything up slowly, allowing the reader to peek around inside the story and feel like they are in it themselves. On the other hand, this made for an extremely slow pace and it took quite some time before anything noteworthy really happened.
Tangerine revolves around two women, Alice and Lucy, and their history. Neither of these women were particularly likable, although I found myself rooting for Alice over Lucy. That said, the character development helped significantly in creating the tension I like to see in a suspense novel. Where the plot and pacing lacked, the character arcs delivered more. However, the voices of these two women’s perspectives were extremely similar, making the character switches sometimes difficult to follow.
All in all, I found the exploration of obsession in Tangerine to be interesting but the execution of the story itself to not fit my taste. This won’t be a book for everyone, but if you like slow burn suspense with plenty of atmosphere and a subtle sense of unease, it might be for you.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition in exchange for an honest review.