I bought this book back in March after having Sophie Hannah recommended to me by Claire McGowan. I love psychological thrillers and domestic noir, and I’ve been trying to read more of it lately. I had quite high expectations for this novel – considering how often I’d seen Sophie Hannah’s name floating around – and I wasn’t disappointed! I read the whole thing in only a couple of days and spent a lot of the time I wasn’t reading thinking about it. Fabulous.
Author: Sophie Hannah
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (24 Aug. 2006)
She’s only been gone two hours.
Her husband David was meant to be looking after their two-week-old daughter. But when Alice Fancourt walks into the nursery, her terrifying ordeal begins, for Alice insists the baby in the cot is a stranger she’s never seen before.
With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it’s too late?
So why did I like this novel?
1. The police element & POV:
The police element is something I wasn’t actually expecting, although it is completely logical. Sophie Hannah not only shows us what is happening from Alice’s perspective, we also get a unique insight into the police investigation through Simon and his colleagues. A surprisingly ineffective police search, really, considering a baby’s life could have been at risk. This made me side more with Alice, which was an interesting tool because otherwise I might have judged her more for her actions, her indecisiveness and her inability to TELL THE TRUTH. Overall, an excellent addition to the story.
I don’t read a lot of books that are written well enough in present tense. But Hannah has achieved a good balance here. Often with present tense, the way I know it’s well-written is that I don’t notice it. But one thing I found while reading Little Face was that, not only did I not notice the present tense until well over half way through – I also found myself channelling it in my own writing! Note to self: it’s actually difficult to write in past tense when you’re reading present tense. Oops. But the tense lends itself to a sort of immediacy that past tense might not otherwise achieve.
A baby goes missing? Fairly obvious. But a baby is allegedly swapped…? BOOM. Awesome idea. So the shock factor of the initial premise is what drew me to this book. I demanded to know how this could be possible. Conspiracy? Changelings? Lies? The premise is a great one. And for the most part the execution is very well done; I spent most of the time gripping the edge of my seat because OH MY GOD WHAT NOW?? The idea is a lot of fun, and it’s nothing like anything I’ve read before.
What I didn’t like:
And this isn’t to say he’s badly written. I was supposed to dislike him, and I did! The only thing I wish is that Alice’s husband got more of what was coming to him. After all she suffered through, I wanted him to pay! But more than anything that’s a testament to his horribleness and the fact that Hannah has written him so well that I actually HATE him. (Yep. Hate.)
2. The Ending
I say this about a lot of books I’ve really enjoyed, and some of it is probably to do with the fact that I don’t want the books to end so the ending is always going to disappoint in one way or another. But there was something about this ending that left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. Perhaps it’s simply because, well, the outcome could only really have been one of two things – there was no real surprise. And that’s perhaps not the point of the novel, but I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more of a reveal.
Having said that, I can’t for the life of me think what would have improved the ending (in terms of tangible ideas), so I’d suggest you taking my thoughts with a grain of salt. Because I definitely enjoyed the book. I devoured it. I just, I suppose, didn’t want it to end!
This novel is a deliciously dark look at suburban nightmares, a very readable psychological thriller with a police twist. And I am definitely going to be reading more by Sophie Hannah in the future.