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Reviewed by Jean Hall for Readers' Favorite
Arabelle is a beautiful and fragile young woman. Her fashionable beauty is what the world desires and rewards. She is twenty-three, leading a high-flying life as a fashion model. She goes to a nightclub named Bed and drinks champagne, she models for a department store named Zen, and she immerses herself in the latest music and party scenes. But she knows the lows of depression too, with its isolating times and bleak moods.
Arabelle's Shadows by New Zealand author Fleur Gaskin is told in the first-person in a diary-writing style. It covers several years in her life just after she has quit smoking. She is in Bangkok when she meets boyfriend Naak. He is a wealthy Thai lawyer who is more mature and experienced. Arabelle is trying to brush off her youthful inexperience with sex and romance. This is her first boyfriend. Boys flirted with her in high school but they did not go any further. "With guys too scared to approach me and me too insecure to believe anyone was actually interested in me, I turned nineteen with my virginity still very much intact."
Now Arabelle is taking more romantic and sexual chances. And then she is raped on a date and the evil "Shadows" reappear. Fleur Gaskin describes depression as a kind of undertow to her emotions in Arabelle's Shadows. The author tries to be positive at the beginning of this diary but the reality of life with a mood disorder draws her under. There are passages when the story goes back in time. She has memories of her childhood and the struggle of her family life. This first-person story lets you see the temptations of a beautiful and glamorous life through the eyes of an impressionable and sympathetic young woman.