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Girlfriend 44 by Mark Barrowcliffe - Book Review


Girlfriend 44
Mark Barrowcliffe
Headline Book Publishing

Fiction-Net Rating 3 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Is she 'the one' or is she just girlfriend 44? A hilarious account of the plight of the single male.

Since he was ten years old, Harry has had one ambition - to find the perfect girl for him. Forty-three women and twenty years later he is no nearer his goal. He doesn't ask for much - just a beautiful intellectual who doesn't mind his constant infidelity.

Harry's roommate, Gerrard, once found true love-but he didn't realise it until the day she left him. Only two women have met Gerrard's exacting criteria and he's not hopeful that he'll find another. Even if he does, he's not sure he can trust her not to grow old eventually.

And then Harry and Gerrard meet Alice.

Alice is not only the perfect woman but also the only woman in the world Harry and Gerrard can agree on. Unfortunately, she seems to like them both. Gerrard wants Alice for himself but Harry is not about to give up his plight for love. But can a man who thinks you can't love someone properly if they have a big nose grow up fast enough to win the girl of his dreams?

Girlfriend 44 is a funny, frightening look into the minds and morals (or lack thereof) of modern men.

We Say

This book is a lot like the protagonist, Harry - not as funny as it thinks it is. Harry, a thirty-two year old Londoner, has just said goodbye to his latest girlfriend, Emily, who is headed off to Antarctica for a year - with sixty men. Sad only to say goodbye to the idea of her, Harry quickly reestablishes his single life of bars, beer, and the unending search for a shag. One night, he receives a drunken phone call from his friend, Farley, saying he is ending it all for the love of a girl named Alice. Hearing this from a guy Harry terms "beyond promiscuous" has Harry and his flatmate Gerrard perversely daydreaming of the perfect Alice before they even meet her.

So begins Girlfriend 44. The rest of the book chronicles Harry and Gerrard desperately fighting over Alice, each determined to win her. Not only does she fit all of Harry and Gerrard's unrealistic standards of the perfect girl but Harry might even be falling in love with her.

In their attempts to get the girl, Harry resorts to sometimes funny but most often pathetic humour and Gerrard to begging and sabotaging Harry's reputation (which is not too difficult). Alice ultimately chooses Harry but not before Harry has potentially botched it by having a one-night stand with Gerrard's ex-girlfriend, Paula.

Girlfriend 44 offers up plentiful description and inner monologue about a single guy in his 30's. Once in a while, the author Mark Barrowcliffe even shows some true insight about young urban life, amidst his 'all men are pigs' editorialising. But the limited dialogue and lack of wit make this book read excruciatingly slow - to the point where the few good parts are lost among all of Harry's musings and wonderings and schemings. Had this book been slimmed by a hundred pages or so, the pace might've increased beyond that of a snail's. Instead, Girlfriend 44 left me floundering, wondering whether it was worth the time to see what happened with Harry and Alice.

There are far better books out there if you want to read about thirtysomething flawed men and their attempts at finding and holding onto true love.

Review by: Michelle Johnson

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