Good Girl by Anna Fitzpatrick
Published by Flying Books
Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Release Date : May 17th 2022 (Canada) & 2023 (US)
Secretary meets Fleabag in Anna Fitzpatrick’s hot and hilarious comic-erotic debut.
Lucy tries so hard to be good. She was always a good student, tries to be a good friend, a good citizen, a good feminist, and now she wants a lover who will give her a good beating, preferably after tying her up.
Dating swings from the sublime to the humiliating, but then Lucy hooks up with someone who challenges her to pursue the writing career she has been letting idle. When she discovers a teen magazine from the 1970s, it sparks her imagination and her life finally seems to come into focus; but as she learns more about how women were treated behind the scenes, she has to decide what to do. How to be true to herself, as chaotic as she believes herself to be; how to be good to those around her; how to survive as a young woman in the still messy media culture of 2015.
Surprising, sexy, and hilarious, Good Girl is a thoughtful and endearing portrait of a young woman unsure of what she’s supposed to want from a world where the rules keep changing.
“Oh, honey. So you’re a pervert. Big deal. All the best people are.”
Good Girl is the erotic and comedic version of a sad girl book that should be added to everyones TBRs.
Before I came to Canada I made a list of Toronto’s independent bookstores to check out, one of those is Flying Books. Personally, I haven’t gotten the chance to visit the bookstore since I landed in January this year. But I’ve been eyeing their published books, starting out with Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados which I read back in July and now Good Girl by Anna Fitzpatrick. What made me pick up the books are the simple and aesthetically pleasing covers. Seeing it on display at the bookstore is much more satisfying too because it does look better in real life than from a picture. Anyway, I will get on with the review.
Good Girl is Anna Fitzpatrick’s debut full length novel that follows Lucy, a biracial twenty five year old aspiring writer and full time bookseller, who lives in Toronto. Lucy is traversing through adulthood doing the usual balancing act of most young twenty-something aspiring writers in the big city—maintaining a stable but low paying job, trying to write the next big novel, a social life and dating a plethora of humans hoping to find someone compatible. For Lucy, a ball of anxiety and uncertainty, life is challenging. She seeks refuge by finding a partner that knows her kinks and addiction for release. There is no ambition or drive within Lucy unless someone calls the shots for her as she is bound to commands and restrictions.
The story follows a certain period of Lucy’s life as she finds someone to appease her hunger and that also understands her kinks. When that relationship fizzled Lucy was left pondering on what to do with her life. The career Lucy left idle for years is restarted after she found an old collection of teen magazines from the 1970s. This magazine became a topic of interest for Lucy as she began her research in learning about the roles taken on by women in a mostly male dominated industry. Her research has lead Lucy to grapple with her own idea of feminism and being a woman in a progressive modern society of the 21st century, all the while trying to make sense of her fetish and kinky habits of finding control by being a submissive in a BDSM relationship also the correlation between consent and empowerment. Essentially, Lucy is trying to figure out what she is going to do.
Sometimes being an adult feels like spinning plates, where you have to keep everything going at once to ensure that you are both keeping yourself alive and keeping a balanced life—to eat, to sleep, to work, to learn, to fuck—and then, while you’re working on all that, you also have to figure out how to be a good person.
The book is marketed as ‘Secretary meets Fleabag’, I have not watched both forms of media in my lifetime, so I can’t really confirm if Good Girl meets the expectations of these two films. Though I would imagine Fleabag to be something close to Good Girl knowing certain things about it from friends and screenshots of the series.
Fitzpatrick’s writing is hilarious for its comedic timing, erotic, and sometimes dark in conveying the thoughts of the main protagonist, Lucy. Reading through Lucy’s constant shaming and critique towards herself enveloped in insecurity is a constant battle for her everyday. The self deprecation leads Lucy to spiral deep within herself to the point that she lashes out to the people she loves.
Feminism and sexual desires go hand in hand in every discussion as Lucy tries to grasp the ideal power dynamics she fantasizes and the reality of living in her fantasy but not finding the fulfilment she expects to get. Fitzpatrick plays with the idea of being “good” through Lucy’s desire to please other people as she jumps through hoops to satisfy the people that she deems admirable. Seeing the connection between Lucys need to please, the submissive role she embraced, the pressure to fit into this ideal role of a “good feminist”, and the her sexual desires conflict with each other is quite entertaining as a reader.
My brain is like the attic in a horror movie, and I have no choice but to explore it. Will anybody be surprised when they find my corpse?
The concept of consent, at the start of the story, for Lucy bores her as she sees it as a chore that stands between her pleasure and satisfaction. One incident in particular comes to mind when Lucy entangles herself with a former colleague. As Lucy forms a situationship with this man the concept of consent resurfaces over and over as a question that she will repeatedly brush off to “please”, “not ruin the mood”, “avoid conflict”, etc; basically succumbing to pressure of expectations she develops herself. This situationship pushes Lucy to compare previous situationship with the present and sees the merit on why communication is important in any relationship.
Lucy has a warped idea of relationship using her knowledge of sex and her desires in how she interacts with men. She champions womens rights, knows relationship red flags, and understands that women face a lot of hardships from the opposite sex and society—but all of this is in theory. Her actions contradict the beliefs and morals Lucy has learned throughout her life.
All I need is for someone to tell me what to do. Tell me what to do, and I will be okay.
Fitzpatrick writes the story in a non linear way as it goes back and forth from present to past of Lucy’s life. Readers will see glimpses of defining moments in Lucy’s past that steered her to become the person she is in the present. By the end of the story readers will see these two views (past and present) overlap each other as Lucy grows to learn from her experiences as she reflects and finally faces reality with conviction.
Lucy isn’t a likable character as she is a character full of flaws, displaying selfish and flaky tendencies putting her needs of satisfaction before everything else. There are many incidents that can be an example but I will not elaborate to avoid spoilers. All I can say is that Lucy will make a lot of questionable decisions throughout the book but Fitzpatrick writes these scenarios to be entertaining with tones of light hearted erotic dark comedy. In a way it is interesting to see anxiety to be depicted in a fresh and less depressing manner. Some scenarios are more ridiculous, shameful, and embarrassing than the next.
“You’re still a good girl.”
Final thoughts, Good Girl is a luscious, comedic, and sensual debut book that exceeded my expectations in weaving themes of feminism, womanhood, and relationships that playfully depicts the many anxieties of being a twenty something year old trying to understand how to be a functioning adult. A close to real life story that points out the pressures of performing and maintaining an image. Good Girl is a layered contemporary fiction that provokes readers to analyze the characters and relationship dynamics from a women centered perspective, offering views from women of various generations and backgrounds. Readers will be amused by Fitzpatricks wit and ability to write chaotic women that shows growth and development through learning about relationships and the dynamics that come with it. Did I mention the sex scenes in this book is some of the best I’ve read in a long while?
I highly recommend for readers that are in their twenties that love stories that observe human behavior and dissect the mental gymnastics in relationships. Even though I never watched Fleabag, I feel like readers that have watched that show will enjoy reading this book.
About the Author
She has written for, in no real order: The New York Times Magazine, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, Rookie Mag, Vice, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The Hairpin, Hazlitt, The Believer, The Local, Jezebel, Nylon, Nylon Guys, Flare, Fashion, US Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, The Village Voice, Worn Fashion Journal, Canadian Business, Cottage Life, Medium, Montecristo, Topic, Oyster, and Refinery29.
She previously wrote a column about children’s books for the National Post called Scribbles, and at different points in her life was the resident picture book reviewer for the Globe and Mail, the digital media editor for The Believer, the online editor for Worn Fashion Journal, and an inaugural contributor to Rookie Mag.