Lottie Moggach's first novel was the subject of a bidding war between eleven different publishers, she had a lot of pressure on her as the daughter of bestselling novelist and a real favourite of mine; Deborah Moggach (check out Deborah's hilarious rules for writing here) I wondered whether the daughter would live up to the promise of the mother.
I can certainly say that Lottie's book is as good as some of Deborah's work though not as good as my favourite Tulip Fever but that's probably because she writes in a very different style and that's not a bad thing, just a different thing. Kiss Me First fits neatly in the category of post Gone Girl female led thrillers. There seems at the moment to be a shift towards a darker edge in contemporary women's fiction and I don't think there is any sense that writers are jumping on the bandwagon, rather writers are simply responding to the zeitgeist and the sex and shopping and cosy humour at either end of the scale during the "chick-lit" boom is of no interest to writers or readers in a post financial crash reality.
Kiss Me First is the story of Leila she is a socially awkward young woman who has lived in a very closed world, her adult life has been focused on looking after her Mum who suffered from MS and now that she has died she has no-one. Her whole life takes place on-line. In between on-line role playing games she works remotely as a software tester. It is after she joins a philosophy discussion site called Red Pill that her world begins to change. The site administrator Adrian singles her out for attention and noticing her liberal views on euthanasia her tasks her with taking on the on-line persona of a woman who has chosen to die called Tess. Tess and Leila never meet in person but through on-line chats, emails and facebook Leila studies Tess and learns about a life utterly different to her own. Tess has had a priveleged upbringing and an expensive education, she is an artist suffering from bi-polar disorder who has traveled widely, experimented with drugs and had realtionships with a lot of men. Leila finds her fascinating.
However as the story begins with Leila searching for Tess at a commune in Spain we know from the start that it all goes wrong and the drama lies in how exactly it all unravels. This is a short book and it is well written and tightly plotted. I think Lottie Moggach has touched on the dangers of our reliance on social media and the need to make genuine connections. This is a sharp and fast paced thriller which I would highly recommend. Kiss Me First is out now from Picador. Thank you to Francesca Main who sent me a copy to review.