With its 1950’s cover, Tangerine caught my eye; add in the setting, Tangier, Morocco, and this novel became extremely appealing me.
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends – once inseparable roommates – haven’t spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right.
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 an extraordinary debut, so tightly wound, so evocative of 1950s Tangier, and so cleverly plotted that it will leave you absolutely breathless.
Told in alternating first-person narratives, Tangerine is the tale of two orphaned girls, Lucy and Alice, their relationship at school in Vermont, and their meeting as adults in Tangier – with a mystery/tragedy, or two, thrown in along the way. I agree with the blurb, Tangerine is a “tightly wound” novel – it has a stifling atmosphere due to the limited characters in this novel; you are smothered by the relationship between Alice and Lucy, smothered by the obsession, the manipulation.
Add in the setting of this novel, 1950’s Tangier, and the stifling atmosphere is increased tenfold. This atmosphere created by the location came from the references to the city being so hot and humid, however, I would have loved to see more of the city on display:
“This strange, lawless city that belonged to everyone and no one”
I enjoyed the beginning of this novel, but the more I read, the more I felt my interest waning. While I appreciated this novel is incredibly atmospheric, I felt this atmosphere was achieved at the expense of the plot. Unfortunately, I found the plot extremely predictable, and there wasn’t one twist that wasn’t obvious to me – to be brutally honest: I felt like I’d read this book already. It’s a case of: I know, perhaps, what I should have felt but, I just didn’t feel it.
Tangerine is a slow-burner, but it felt overwritten, like there was supposed to be this mysterious, dark edge to the novel and it just didn’t manifest itself. Furthermore, one of the events that took place didn’t make sense to me, and continued to play on my mind for the remainder of the read – I can’t really elaborate on this without spoiling it, but, there was no time for what was meant to have happened to take place – I know that’s extremely vague, but the point I’m hoping to make is, a mystery cannot be appreciated if you spot a hole in the plot.
I really struggled with this novel, its praise comes in the atmosphere that was created and the underlying tension that remained. But with predictable characters and plot, this one was not for me. I do believe this novel would be enjoyed in movie form, as you will be able to see the city of Tangier, and this, combined with the intensity of the two main protagonists, may make for enjoyable viewing.