Mira Books Presents: Holly Bourne's Pretending





Pretending : A Novel 

Holly Bourne

On Sale Date: November 17, 2020

9780778331506, 0778331504

Trade Paperback

$17.99 USD

416 pages


ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this hilarious and heartbreaking debut novel perfect for fans of Fleabag, a woman struggling to move on after a traumatic relationship pretends to be “the perfect girl” in an act of vengeance that goes awry when she finds herself emotionally compromised.


He said he was looking for a 'partner in crime' which everyone knows is shorthand for 'a woman who isn't real'.


April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal - yet she can't seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she's found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.


Gretel is perfect - beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She's a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.


When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun - especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?



Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from
Pretending
by 
Holly Bourne

I hate men.

There, I’ve said it. I know you’re not supposed to say it. We all pretend we don’t hate them; we all tell ourselves we don’t hate them. But I’m calling it. I’m standing here on this soapbox, and I’m saying it.

I. Hate. Men.

I mean, think about it. They’re just awful. I hate how selfish they are. How they take up so much space, assuming it’s always theirs to take. How they spread out their legs on public transport, like their balls need regular airing to stop them developing damp. I hate how they basically scent mark anywhere they enter to make it work for them. Putting on the music they want to listen to the moment they arrive at any house party, and always taking the nicest chair. How they touch your stuff instead of just looking; even tweak the furniture arrangement to make it most comfortable for them. All without asking first—never asking first.

I hate how they think their interests are more important than yours—even though twice a week all most of them do is watch a bunch of strangers kick a circle around a piece of lawn and sulk if the circle doesn’t go in the right place. And how bored they look if you ever try to introduce them to a film, a band, or even a freaking YouTube clip, before you’ve even pressed Play.

I hate their endless arrogance. I hate how they interrupt you and then apologize for it but carry on talking anyway. How they ask you a question but then check your answer afterward. I hate how they can never do one piece of housework without telling you about it. I hate how they literally cannot handle being driven in a car by a woman, even if they’re terrible drivers themselves. I hate how they all think they’re fucking incredible at grilling meat on barbecues. The sun comes out and man must light fire and not let woman anywhere near the meat. Dumping blackened bits of chicken onto our plates along with the whiff of a burp from their beer breath, acting all caveman, like we’re supposed to find it cute that we may now get salmonella and that we’re going to have to do all the washing up.

I hate how I’m quite scared of them. I hate the collective noise of them when they’re in a big group. The tribal wahey-ing, like they all swap their IQs for extra testosterone when they swarm together. How, if you’re sitting alone on an empty train, they always come and deliberately sit next to you en masse, and talk extra loudly about macho nonsense, apparently to impress you. I hate the way they look at you when you walk past—automatically judging your screwability the moment they see you. Telling you to smile if you dare look anything other than delighted about living with stuff like this constantly fucking happening to you. 

I hate how hard they are to love. How many of them actually, truly, think the way to your heart is sending you a selfie of them tugging themselves, hairy ball sack very much still in shot. I hate how they have sex. How they shove their fingers into you, thinking it’s going to achieve anything. Jabbing their unwashed hands into your dry vagina, prodding about like they’re checking for prostate cancer, then wondering why you now have BV and you still haven’t come. Have none of them read a sex manual? Seriously? None of them? And I hate how they hate you a little just after they’ve finished. How even the nice ones lie there with cold eyes, pretending to cuddle, but clearly desperate to get as far away from you as possible.

I hate how it’s never equal. How they expect you to do all the emotional labor and then get upset when you’re the more stressed-out one. I hate how they never understand you, no matter how hard they try, although, let’s be honest here, they never actually try that hard. And I hate how you’re always exhausting yourself trying to explain even the most basic of your rational emotional responses to their bored face.

I hate how every single last one of them has issues with their father.

And do you know what I hate most of all?

That despite this, despite all this disdain, I still fancy men. And I still want them to fancy me, to want me, to love me. I hate myself for how much I want them. Why do I still fancy men so much? What’s wrong with me? Why are they all so broken? Am I broken for still wanting to be with one, even after everything? I should be alone. That’s the only healthy way to be. BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE. I hate men, that’s the problem. GOD I HATE THEM SO MUCH—they’re so entitled and broken and lazy and wrong and…and…

Hang on…

My phone.

HE MESSAGED BACK!!!

WITH A KISS ON THE END!

Never mind.

Forget I said anything. It’s all good.


Excerpted from Pretending by Holly Bourne, Copyright © 2020 by Holly Bourne. Published by MIRA Books. 


My Thoughts
Holly Bourne's Pretending is a book that hit quite a few nerves for this reviewer.
The reason...
The protagonist, thirty-something nonprofit employee and rape survivor, April.  Still reeling from her rape at the hands of former boyfriend, Ryan.  Has once again entered the dating scene.  Only to find that herself woefully unprepared for the rigors of flirting and sex.
And more than anything ready for revenge.
But not just revenge on the man who hurt her however.
This self proclaimed "man hater" is out for proverbial blood from all of mankind as a whole.
And is willing to go so far as to "catfish" her unsuspecting "right swipe" Joshua.  By way of an alter ego whom she has named Gretel to get it.


While it is very natural for someone who has gone through the trauma of rape to be angry, among a myriad of other feelings.
Deception should never be a means through which one heals or avenges a wrong.
Particularly when the target of said deception is not the offending party.
It is for this reason, and this reason alone that I find myself to be both strongly put off by this book.
And asking myself...

    "How is it that a woman claiming to want honesty and trust in a relationship, can go to such extreme        lengths to deprive another of those very things?"

And sadly, the answer is quite simple,
     "Hurt people...hurt people"

Though it is quite clear that this book attempts to put somewhat of a romcom spin on the issue.
It must be said that the issues addressed here are much to heavy to effectively carry off such a treatment.
And instead, produce in readers a profound and lingering confusion of loyalties.  Which quickly gives way to anger.
Emotional manipulation and trauma masking are not issues which lend themselves to a rollicking good time.  Even in the mildest of cases.  
Therefore, reading this proved about as enjoyable as a well orchestrated forty car pile up on the CHP during rush hour.

Reviewer's Note
Thank you to Mira and Netgalley for providing the review copy on which my critique is based.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of rape.  Please don't be afraid to reach out for help.
National Sexual Assault Hotline:
1-800-656-4673






ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Holly Bourne is a bestselling UK-based YA and Adult Fiction author and is an Ambassador for Women’s Aid. In 2019, she was an Author of the Day at the London Book Fair, and was named by Elle Magazine’s weekly podcast as one of “Six Female Authors Changing the Conversation in 2019”. Pretending is her US debut.








BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Apple Books

Kobo

Google Books

Bookshop.org


SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://hollybourne.co.uk/

Twitter: @holly_bourneYA


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