Sophie Hannah

 

Last month for Gloopers (my Book Group) we read Sophie Hannah’s ‘Room Swept White.’  This was the first time I’d ever read one of her books, although I’d seen them and probably touched them plenty of times!  Coincidentally, Sophie was being interviewed on The Book Show with Mariella Frostrup the week one of our BG members chose one of her titles as our next book.  She came across as being lovely and very ‘English’, and I was really loking forward to getting stuck into ‘A Room Swept White.’

The story is about cot death.  Well, not cot death itself but about the mothers who were accused of murdering their babies, and criminal injustice as Fliss Benson, a television producer, is about to produce a documentary about their cases.  There are lots of mini storylines going on and the story flits between Fliss and her work colleagues, the police and their (love) lives and there’s also the accused women and their families.

When I first read the blurb, I thought it sounded really intruguing and a storyline I’d not come across before.  However, I soon got bored of the book and found it quite tedious, the characters shallow and not particularly likeable.  I later learnt that this book is actually part of a series and that then made sense as to why I just wans’t ‘getting’ the relationships that were going on in the police station.  They all seemed a bit odd, very egocentrical and possessing the emotions of a gnat!  Fliss herself comes across as a silly, boss-infatuated girl that has no clue as to what she is doing.  She refuses to coooperate with the police and blatantly lies to them on occcassion.  The reasons why are explained later in the book but to me, they didn’t seem particulary valid.

A card, with four rows of four numbers on it is central to the plot.  Fliss receives one of these as does her boss and other characters.  Of course, none of these characters talk to each other so links are frustratingly not made.  I’m still not totally clear as to the meaning of all of these numbers but that may be due to my lascklustre approach to the book and not bad writing/editing.

I was looking forward to discussing this book at Gloopers, only to find that one member had given up after the first couple of chapters as it hadn’t gripped her, and none of the others who had read it particulary raved about it and none of us felt strongly enough to want to recommened it to a friend.  I actually felt quite bad for Sophie Hannah after we slated ‘A Room Swept White’ at our meeting, so I decided to read another of her books to see how I found that.  I chose her latest, ‘Lasting Damage.’

Straight away, I was very ‘into’ this one and liked the main characters this time.  There were some familiar faces but I didn’t find them quite as grating this time although I do have to say that Simon Waterhouse and his wife, Charlie, are just as annoying as previously encountered!  They talk in riddles and it drive me nuts as they have no emotion or passion.  The only police office I like in the series is Sam, and he can be fairly dopey and weird at times.

The story is about a woman who watches a virtual tour of a house for sale on a real estate website.  She sees a murdered woman lying in one of the rooms but when she calls her husband to see it, the body has disappeared without a trace.  How do you make the police – and indeed, members of your own family – believe you when there is no evidence whatsoever to be found.  I loved this premise.  As the book progresses, you get more and more confused by what is happening and I was at a total loss as to what was going on!  I was kept guessing right til the end.  There were all these little weird things happening between the main character, Connie, and her husband, Kit, and you never knew which one was telling the truth (if either of them.)  I love suspense novels like this one that really do get under your skin and you just have to keep dipping  into it as soon as your husband and kids’ backs are turned!

I am so glad that I didn’t give up on Sophie Hannah.  I now want to read all the ones I’ve missed previously to see if they’re as good as ‘Lasting Damage’ is.  Which ones do people recommend I try?

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Book Whisperer
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 22:35:37

    I agree – although I did enjoy A Room Swept White I much prefered Lasting Damage.

    The only other one I have read is her first book, Little Face. I enjoyed that but it was years ago so can’t remember much about it.

    Reply

  2. Joanne
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 05:04:20

    Until about 2 weeks ago I hadn’t heard of Sophie Hannah, now I see her name everywhere! I’m definitely going to give her books a try.

    Reply

  3. BryOak
    Apr 03, 2011 @ 13:20:40

    I love the covers of her books. I plan on reading her others – will add them to my ever increasing TBR mountain!

    Reply

  4. readingwithtea
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 20:59:33

    I haven’t read any of hers but she is definitely on my list! I’m so pleased that you found one that you liked after the initial lacklustre experience.

    Reply

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