MAZARINE by Charlotte Grimshaw

It is hard to pin down exactly what sort of novel this is. It could be a thriller-mystery; it could be a change of life (ie menopausal) story; it could be a tale of sexual identity; it could be how to fulfil one's writing self; it could be a middle aged OE.  In fact it could be a whole host of things. This is actually why I find it confusing, at times directionless, and because of its abrupt and strangely dissatisfying end, really not very enjoyable at all. Aside from that and in a much more positive light, the author's writing as per usual is outstanding. Her insight into the minds of her characters, their motivations, flaws, process of decision making is lovely to read.

Frances lives in Auckland, she is the mother of Maya who is currently on her OE with her boyfriend Joe. They are based in London, and like thousands of young NZers before them, they travel regularly around Europe, the UK, living on the smell of an oily rag. Like their parents back in little old NZ, Frances frets and worries about her only child, daily scanning Facebook and emails for updates on her daughter's life.  Frances herself is in a state of flux. She is a writer of sorts, and is keen to get started on a thriller novel. Her long term relationship with possibly unstable Nick (or is it Frances who is the unstable one) has recently finished, she has little to do with her ex husband who is Maya's father. Suddenly Maya is no longer communicating on social media, emails to her go unanswered. Frances, convinced she is being stalked by Nick, and wanting to find out where her daughter could be, flees to a motel in Hamilton, intending to also track down Joe's mother, Mazarine.

And the confusion now begins to set in. The narrative could go in any direction as Frances travels to London, Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Auckland. Sometimes Mazarine is there, sometimes she isn't. Nick randomly appears in London, Paris. Is Frances going mad? Does she even know who she is, is she even real? Is Mazarine even real or just another figment of Frances' imagination? Is her daughter in danger or not? What is on the tiny USB stick she is given by the widow of a man who has unexpectedly died? Hardly surprising that I became impatient with this twisting and turning. Being a Charlotte fan, I kept reading in the hope that it would all come together into some devastating and/or amazing conclusion. But no, Frances continues her meandering, her indecisiveness, her obsession with Mazarine. By the end of the book nothing has changed from the beginning except that Frances has travelled, has emptied her bank account, and the disappearance of Maya has been resolved. Disappointing. 

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