Girl 99 is the new novel by Andy Jones, best-selling author of The Two of Us and The Trouble with Henry and Zoe.
After a messy break up with his girlfriend Sadie on Christmas Eve, Tom realises that she wasn’t The One, she was just The One For Now. She was also, he realises, after listing all of his previous relationship/flings/liaisons – girl number 85.
When his best friend El challenges him to bring things to a nice round number and sleep with a 100 women by a certain date, Tom reluctantly agrees – mainly to get El off his back, but also because, well he’s a man and clearly a little slutty. Without really putting much effort into his mission, he ends up sleeping with a colleague, a friend of a friend, a stranger he meets on the tube, the estate agent selling his flat and more besides. Each encounter is meaningless, messy and awkward, and leaves Tom feeling empty and alone. He then meets Verity, who is more than just a number, and is forced to face up to his self-destructive behaviour.
Girl 99 is a perfectly observed tale of relationships in all their guises, dealing with issues of love, loss, morality and degenerative illness. Andy Jones is really good at creating realism, in both his characters and their experiences, while serving it all up with a razor-sharp dose of smart wit.
Tom is an all-round nice guy. He’s popular, has a good career and is touchingly protective over his dad and younger sister following the death of his mother a few years previous, but he is essentially lonely – often, the highlight of his day is drinking tea with his elderly neighbour Doug. He also has commitment issues and a slight tendency to over-analyse. You could almost take a dislike to him and his promiscuous ways, and his selfish disregard for women’s feelings, but deep down Tom is unfulfilled and lost.
I hate to use the ‘J’ word really, but Tom does go on a bit of a ‘journey’ of self-discovery. Relationships are complicated, whether friendship, relationship or relative and mistakes are often made along the way – Tom makes many (like breaking up with a girl over email – really Tom?!). It makes for a charmingly life-affirming and relatable tale.Thoroughly enjoyable.
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Review copied supplied by Netgalley