Hoping to escape the pain of the recent murder of her best friend, art student Zoe Beech finds herself studying abroad in the bohemian capital of Europe–Berlin. Zoe, rudderless, relies on the arrangements of fellow exchange student Hailey Mader, who idolizes Warhol and Britney Spears and wants nothing more than to be an art star. On Craigslist, Hailey unknowingly stumbles on an apartment sublet posted by a well-known thriller writer. Feeling as though they’ve won the lottery, the women move into the high-ceilinged pre-war flat. Soon they realize that their landlady, Beatrice, who is supposed to be on a residency in Vienna, is watching them–and her next book appears to be based on their lives. Taking stock of their mundane routines–Law and Order binges and nightly nachos–Hailey insists they become people worthy of a novel. As the year unravels and events spiral out of control, they begin to wonder whose story they are living, and how will it end?
Other People’s Clothes is brilliant on the sometimes dangerous intensity of female friendships, on millennial life in the city, on the lengths people will go to in order to eradicate emotional pain.
…she is beautiful but no Helen of Troy-she’d be lucky to launch a singular kayak
I must convince that this book was initially a cover buy. I saw it on a display stand when I was in Glasgow and the cover just spoke to me. Then I read the blurb and thought that this would be a book that I would absolutely love. Part me was correct! I did love this book and found myself just devouring it with zero restraint.
This book took place in Berlin during the 00s which was only a couple of years before I visited Berlin. Although my experience of the city included way more Roller Derby and museums and way less exclusive clubs. I am a huge fan of reading books set in either the 90s or 00s, perhaps because these were the decades where I feel like I did most of my growing up (both physically and mentally). There’s something so nostalgic about these time periods for me so if a book is set during either of these times, I will probably want to read it.
This book was a prime example of how I can enjoy a book without liking any of the characters. Zoe and Hailey were pretentious, egotistical, and just entitled. Yet, oddly familiar. I know I met people like them when I was in university, I probably had elements of them in myself at that period of my life too. I didn’t like the characters but I liked reading about their progressively wilder and wilder escapades.
The language of this book was also just so nostalgic. While reading this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of dialogue from some well loved films from my youth. Not because of the words but the way that they were spoken. This book could easily have been read by Natasha Lyonne, Winona Ryder, or Kirsten Dunst. This was a book that I would absolutely love to see turned into a Netflix adaptation. Although, I’m still content to just have it as a novel.
The plot seemed like it grew arms and legs just so quickly. It really did get more and more over the top. I loved how just over the top the book was at times. Zoe and Hailey were obsessed with watching Criminal Minds, and I could see that from their lives. The drama that they got caught up in was just so thrilling to read.
For me, a huge part of my enjoyment came from both the nostalgia and the wild plot. When the twist came, I was genuinely flabbergasted. I just didn’t have any idea what direction the book was going to take and I was hooked. I stayed up late because I needed to finish the last few chapters, there was no way I could have slept without knowing what happened.
This book was a slower start for me, it took about three chapters to get into it as there was quite a bit of set up. As soon as the students reached the Berlin apartment, I was hooked though and barely put this book down.
This book had an underlying theme of obsession which was just so wonderfully conveyed! Zoey was grieving for the loss of her best friend and started to almost morph into her. This I found to be so relatable, I know that I started wearing my sister’s clothes after she passed away (we had very different styles but both loved a good piece of knitwear). So I felt that this part of grief was tackled really well. I also enjoyed reading about Zoe’s obsession with Hailey but also Hailey’s obsession with Zoe, fame, their landlord. I just absolutely applaud this book, I read this a few weeks ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it. I used almost an entire stack of tabs because there was so much fun dialogue that I wanted to come back to.
I’d also like to apologise to anyone who knew me between the ages of 16 and 21 because I related a little bit too much to these characters. Which I think means that I was just awful, I was definitely pretentious. Which was hilarious considering that just because I’d moved from somewhere with no traffic lights to the city and was going to free art shows, I thought I was special. I’m proud to say that Peebles now has multiple sets of traffic lights now.