Publication Date: May 24, 2015
In Goody One Shoe by Julie Frayn, Billie Fullalove lost her parents and her leg all on her eleventh birthday. As an adult, she’s working in a publishing house and trying to get an editing freelance career off the ground. All around Billie injustice runs rampant but a vigilante is watching and ready to take action. Can Billie find the vigilante? Does she want to find the vigilante?
There’s a special tone in the way Frayn writes. Her style is literary without being pretentious. The spirit is light but not simple. The story is detailed without the feel of being weighed down. Reading Julie Frayn’s work is raw, funny and pure joy.
Billie is an amputee and Frayn gives us the full experience. The character tells us what not having a leg feels like and the care it takes. Billie’s leg is bothering her at work and she takes it off to the sort of reaction that rivals a nursing mom popping out a breast at her workstation. The scope of overreaction is both preposterous but for those of who know amputees, realistic at the same time. My late mother-in-law had a prosthetic limb and it’s not a comfortable experience. From what I understand, she really enjoyed the reaction of people who didn’t know she had a prosthetic leg when she took it off. The shock, horror and uncertainty would send her in peels of laughter whenever she would retell her experiences.
Frayn’s rounding out of the character Billie is complete. She shows us how Billie came to be, who she is when we meet her. We’re with her when her parents die; we’re with her when she interacts with co-workers and her environment. She has similarities to Batman but hates Batman, and she has a very clear sense of self. Frayn doesn’t tell us that Billie is strong, she shows us why she would be strong. She is a survivor and the author lets us know why Billy is uniquely suited to be the main player in a story that involves justice on a superhero not bitten by a spider level. I am a big fan of superhero movies and fiction, and appreciate the coy winks in the story that Frayn throws to the genre.
At its heart, Goody One Shoe is a crime novel and a very good one. Frayn takes many moving parts and brings them together with an eloquent skill. Like her book-editing main character, her story is well edited and flawless. What I admire most about Frayn’s writing style is her perfection. Goody One Shoe is a tightly-written story. The plot line and characters are fully developed. Frayn is an author where that may seem to write something irrelevant, but the reader can expect it will come up later in the story to draw a full circle. There are a lot of lighter moments in Goody One Shoe that detail the everyday and yet speak to the humanity of the characters making this story just surprisingly fun and easy read.
In Frayn’s typical style, there’s no shying away from graphic and descriptive scenes. They are not gratuitously written for shock factor but serve a necessary purpose in the movement of the story. This is an author that is uncompromising in her vision of a story. I have greatly admired the risks she’s taken as her fiction won’t appeal to all audiences but those to whom it does will love and follow her. Julie Frayn is a “purchase on the release day kind of author.”
Goody One Shoe is a wonderful reading experience. If you like crime fiction or just really well-written fiction, pick this one up today.
Julie Frayn is a Calgary-based author. For more reviews of books by Julie Frayn on this website, read Pocketful of Bones, Mazie Baby, Two Wins and an Honourable Mention, It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead, Suicide City: A Love Story and A Trio of Unrelated Stories. I hope you enjoy her books as much as I do.
Read an excerpt and buy Goody One Shoe by Julie Frayn on