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August 19, 2013

Book Notes - Alex Marwood "The Wicked Girls"

The Wicked Girls

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Alex Marwood's is a is a shocking and thought-provoking psychological thriller, an impressive debut.

Megan Abbott wrote of the book:

"Tense, twisty and brimming with revelation, The Wicked Girls offers everything you dream for in a suspense novel. Not only does it hold you in its clutches, but it offers pointed and poignant insights into the way we reconcile with our past, and the collective danger of our own insatiable curiosity."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.


In her own words, here is Alex Marwood's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, :

The Wicked Girls is a novel about what becomes of child murderers when they grow up. Amber and Kirsty have a secret in common. Twenty-five years ago, as eleven-year-olds, they became the subject of a tabloid feeding frenzy when they were responsible for the death of another child. Now adults, they live very different lives under identities given them by the justice system when they were released on licence, both respectable in their own ways and both living with the fear that one day their history might be revealed. When events in the seedy resort town of Whitmouth, where Amber lives, throw them together, they are forced to relive their shared past, and unwillingly united by the need to protect themselves, and the people they love, from the danger of mob justice.

Gotye – "Somebody That I Used to Know". Melancholy, nostalgic and more than slightly creepy. And all about the weird combination of indifference and rage that afflicts both Amber and Kirsty when they think of the way in which both of their names are tied together, inextricably, forever.

Madonna – "Like a Virgin". There's not much to do in British villages, if you're a teenager. It's a rare village that even has a food outlet. You hang about on the Bench – there always is one – descend in droves on the swings, if there are any, drink cider in the graveyard and wait ‘til you or your friends are old enough to drive. And a lot of the time, particularly if you're a girl, you practise ‘being' a pop star. They're all about Rhianna and Beyonce at the moment, and one of the great sources of the Spice Girls' success was the groups of five you'd see gathered on pavements , high-kicking and slapping their own backsides. In our Cotswold village in the eighties, we were all about Being Madonna. Everyone had a lace glove and a purloined scarf tied around their head, and three torn vest tops one on top of the other. On the day they meet, and before things start to go bad, Bel and Jade, kids from opposite sides of the tracks – though we don't really have such a thing in the UK – bond by 'being' Madonna on the churchyard wall. Jade, who has older teenage brothers, of course alters the lyrics from ‘touched' to a completely other word.

Calvin Harris – "Acceptable in the 80s". The sort of song that plays in the nightclubs of Whitmouth. There are many reasons why the drug culture is so big in clubs. Repetitive electronic soundtracks being a major one of them.

Dead or Alive - "You Spin Me Round". Pete Burns funds all his plastic surgery on the proceeds of global fairground Waltzer royalties. Fact.

Jamie T – "Sheila": I love this track, and the video is amazing. This is one of the most gut-wrenching reflections of life as it is for all the forgotten Brits – the people who largely inhabit and holiday at places like Whitmouth – that I've ever come across. There's so much – often class-led, though class is rarely directly mentioned – contempt aimed at the Hogarthian antics of British youth on a Saturday night, and very little acknowledgment of the fact that social mobility has almost entirely stagnated in this country. At the moment , the class you're born into, here, is most probably the class you're stuck with. And if that isn't cause for the sort of weltschmerz-led drinking that dominates many of our provincial high streets on a weekend, I don't know what is…

Nouvelle Vague – "Ever Fallen in Love With Someone". This is the sort of thing Kirsty has on her car stereo as she drives from job to job. The British professional classes love these quirky cover versions of hard, often depressing music from different eras, like this reworking of a Buzzcocks track that formed a major part of the soundtrack of my own youth. If they can sound like Gilberto Gil, like this one does, all the better. The song itself is, of course, more appropriate to Amber…

Take That – "Could it Be Magic": another cover, this time of a Barry Manilow song. I actually love Take That, particularly in their High Gay Disco incarnation, before Gary Barlow started winning awards and getting mixed up with the likes of Lloyd Webber. Their choreography led to a whole new world of Boy Band, and still influences public entertainment to this day. This track comes on once an hour on a loop in the Funnland park in Whitmouth, and, when it does, all the rollercoaster staff– picked for their looks – leap into a choreographed ‘spur of the moment' flashmob-style dance, to the delight of the queuing punters.

Elvis Presley - "Blue Suede Shoes". Vic works the dodgems at Funnland, and likes to dress as Elvis in his early rock'n'roll incarnation, and this is his soundtrack. With all the snake-hipped predation it entails…

The Rolling Stones – "Sympathy for the Devil": If you read the book, you'll probably understand why. But also because it's just one of the greatest tracks, ever.

Alex Marwood and The Wicked Girls links:

Columbus Dispatch review
Daily Mail review
Publishers Weekly review
South Florida Sun Sentinel review

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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