cover image Tangerine


Christine Mangan. Ecco, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-268666-4

The spirit of Patricia Highsmith’s sociopathic social climber Tom Ripley is alive in Mangan’s transportive debut. Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason met as freshman at Bennington in the early 1950s and became the best of friends. Now, after a year apart, they meet again in 1956 in Tangier, where Alice and her new husband, John McAllister, have moved for his job. Alice doesn’t especially enjoy living in Tangier, which is too foreign for her liking. Lucy, meanwhile, revels in the raffish individuals found in the souk. A suspected dalliance by John paves the way for Lucy to reassert her position with the emotionally fragile and easy-to-manipulate Alice. At the same time, the story flashes back to the girls’ passionate friendship at Bennington, where they were inseparable until Tom, a drama student from Williams, came between them. A tragedy ultimately broke their friendship, and there is every indication that another accident of some kind will occur in Tangier; the twisted history of this relationship seems fated to repeat itself. Although some of the plot developments are easy to predict, the novel is narrated persuasively in alternating chapters by Alice and Lucy, and Mangan’s portrayal of Tangier is electric. This sharp novel reads like Single White Female rewritten as a collaboration between Paul Bowles and Mary McCarthy. [em](Mar.) [/em]