Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Jenny Dove has lived with her aunt and uncle since she was a young girl. With her severe stutter and lack of any scrap of confidence, Jenny decides to take her own life at the age of thirteen. But the sudden arrival of a strange animal stops Jenny before it’s too late. Thomas is a talking, golden horse who is invisible to anybody but Jenny. He becomes a great source of support and encouragement and the pair become close friends. With Thomas by her side, Jenny starts to break through her crippling anxiety and finds herself engaged to Russell Checkland, the chaotic but caring owner of a crumbling estate.
I wasn’t sure what to make of The Nothing Girl when I read the blurb. A golden horse? That could talk? It all seemed very bizarre and I opened the book somewhat dubiously. But any doubts I had were soon shoved aside as I began to read Jenny’s wonderful story. I immediately connected with Jenny and felt for her as she struggled through life. Her parents had died when she was young and she found herself living with her aunt and uncle and their children, Francesca and Christopher. Jenny didn’t leave the house much – or even her attic bedroom – so Thomas was a welcome companion to her. Level-headed Thomas coaches Jenny through her life with such affection and humour that I couldn’t help warming to him. It didn’t matter that the idea of an invisible golden horse who could talk was ludicrous – I adored Thomas anyway. He brought such humour to the book – as did Russell Checkland – and I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions.
There are so many great characters in the book, from frenetic Russell and his housekeeper Mrs Crisp, to Russell’s cousin and his partner, Andrew and Tanya, and young Kevin. Even the animals are fantastically quirky and brought to life within the pages. I was quickly drawn into Jenny’s world and observed as she started to come to life. But marrying Russell isn’t quite as simple as Jenny thinks it is going to be and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way as she tries to figure out what living with Russell and all his traits entails. Although I was sceptical before I started the book, I soon discovered what a brilliant book The Nothing Girl is and I am so glad I read it as I enjoyed every single page.