This is a love story between two women who are the complete opposites of each other. This is the bringing together of two souls who connect against the odds because they are destined to be together. It is a story that shows life is never straightforward, mistakes are easily made, and vulnerabilities are exposed.
Cassidy is a rich, successful businesswoman. She is assertive, gets what she wants in life, and has many friends and admirers. Her list of conquests is long, yet there is something fundamentally missing in her life. Cassidy yearns to meet her soul mate. She wants to get beyond having regular casual sex and meet that one special person who she can truly bond with emotionally.
Cassidy’s business is based in Dallas but she has built a resplendent weekend home (with an impressive-sized swimming pool) on a large plot in the Texas countryside. Here she can relax and entertain her multitude of friends who take it in turns to visit her each weekend. More often than not one of her guests ends up in her bed. Indeed, Cassidy has a reputation among her social circle of exercising great prowess between the sheets. However, none of them know that she has never been in love.
Laura, a struggling writer gives up her apartment and mundane city job to return to her childhood home to care for her disabled mother following the death of her stepfather. She likes her own company and is very self-sufficient but suffers terribly with the writer’s block which has blighted her life since the publication of her first and only novel eight years previously.
Laura is a tomboy who dresses casually and loves nothing better than getting her hands dirty. She is a keen gardener and enjoys planting and maintaining her flowers and shrubs. Gardening, cooking and looking after her mother helps take her mind off the struggle she faces—she is unable to come up with a new storyline for a novel.
Keeping herself busy also takes her mind off the fact that she has no girlfriend, and that she misses the closeness of regular sex. Since returning to her old neighbourhood, Laura notices many changes, not least the big house with the swimming pool that has been built on the plot next door.
Split into 52 short chapters, this is a well written novel that will have the reader engrossed from the outset. Hill is clearly a natural storyteller. The characters are likeable; they feel real. The descriptions and sentiments are written so well that the reader will easily picture the various scenarios and settings played out in the book.
One of the most striking features of the book is that it is completely devoid of homophobia. Cassidy and Laura are openly gay, and each is comfortable with their sexuality. There is no mental angst, confusion, or self-hated. Their families, circle of friends (including their straight friends) are equally accepting of lesbianism. Laura’s mother tenderly sums up what she thinks about her daughter’s sexual orientation by telling her, “You are what you are, Laura.”
Of course no novel is completely perfect, and The Neighbor is no exception. There are a few points which could have benefitted from a little extra thought. Laura’s writer’s block, for example, (that she has suffered with for eight years) is too farfetched. As the author of over 30 novels, surely Hill appreciates that writer’s block is a bit of a myth. So therefore how could she consider it realistic to suggest that Laura agonized with it for so long? Is it feasible that Laura, a published author, suddenly finds her imagination runs so dry so soon into her writing career? Unlikely.
Although Cassidy is head over heels in love with Laura and vice versa, when Cassidy enquires if Laura’s novel was still in print, she is told that it isn’t. Yet this does not prompt Laura to offer her a copy despite the reader knowing she had some reserve copies. This is rather stingy considering that Cassidy always seems to be so generous to Laura, who never seems to reciprocate with any gift.
These are only minor criticisms, however, and many readers will probably not even notice these points. The real test of any novel is whether it holds the interest of the reader throughout. The Neighbor certainly does that long before the later chapters which graphically, yet tastefully, allows the reader into the sexual activity between Cassidy and Laura. They like to kiss and make love often. Erect nipples, aroused clitorises, dexterous finger work, and frequent orgasms are sprinkled throughout the final chapters as Cassidy and Laura have sex as often as possible and in as many places as possible; including the kitchen, pantry, stairs, swimming pool, and in Cassidy’s bed.
This is a memorable novel and certainly one worth reading. If anybody wants to understand the normality of women falling in love with women, this would be a good book to recommend.