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So Much Pretty Paperback – 2 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Century (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846059704
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846059704
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,046,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cara Hoffman is the author of the critically acclaimed 2011 novel So Much Pretty. She grew up in northern Appalachia, where she dropped out of high school to work full time. Hoffman spent three years travelling and working as an agricultural labourer in Europe and the Middle East. She returned to the US, had a baby and found a job delivering newspapers which eventually led to work as a reporter covering environmental politics and crime. She has been a visiting writer at St. John's, Columbia and Oxford, where she lectured on Violence and Masculinity for the Rhodes Global Scholars Symposium. Hoffman lives in Manhattan and teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College.

Product Description


"Poetic, intelling and shocking" (Rosamund Lupton, bestselling author of Sister)

"Beautiful, impassioned, intelligent and important work of art" (Chris Cleave)

"[A] dark but powerful début novel" (The New Yorker)

"A skillful, psychologically acute tale of how violence affects a small town" (Los Angeles Times)

"[A] fearless first novel" (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

A gripping psychological suspense debut

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D Webster VINE VOICE on 16 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an extraordinary, passionately felt, gripping psychological thriller that had me wanting to start it again once I'd finished it. What higher praise? It is written in sections by different characters which gives it a multi-refractory feel. These sections are the characters thoughts, letters, voicemails and student essays. It is multi-layered in its themes which coalesce, making it a sophisticated and complex read. End voices begin the novel which make fuller sense nearer to the end: this does not detract from pace or understanding but simply makes it more intriuging and motivates the reader to read on. I feel that Booklist does it a disservice in its comparison with The Lovely Bones and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, though it is closer to the grittiness and darkness of the latter it is a long way from the saccharine former.

There are many voices that contribute to So Much Pretty, foremost of which seem to be Gene and Claire the parents of Alice, Alice herself and Stacy Flynn, investigative local reporter.

The setting is a small, sad town in upstate New York: a "farming" town. The community seems dominated physically and socially by the Haytes farm and the family that live there, the Haytes. They have a dairy factory farm that also farms cow manure and spreads the smell of cow faeces over the town. The description of the lives of the cows alone is visceral and highly upsetting. I don't think it is any accident that the Haytes don't see these cows as living creatures, just the means to an end (money), which is a mirror to the way father and son view women - as sub-human and faceless. The rest of the town on the whole kow tow to this family which is the wealthiest in this impoverished, largely unemployed and isolated community.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P Knitty VINE VOICE on 2 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
So Much Pretty
I got this book really by the most remote chance as I was looking for good thrillers. WOW!!!!
What a book!!!
Cara Hofman takes them all on and I mean all. It is full of subjects dearest to my heart and mind.
She takes on the Pharma companies, she takes on the organised gangs of men who do violence to women or at least ingore that it is being done. That is to say she takes on society and many of it's organised sections like the polce depts of our world who hide crimes done to women and children or at best , stick their heads in the sand, at worst they participate.

She takes on small town America . She takes on the primitive, ancient reptile brain that I hope we are soon evolved out of. That is the brain that is for tribal loyalites and fears creativity and thinking out of the box. That is the part of the human brain the denies Darwinian and evolution and stays stuck on small, dehumananising thought.

In one of the best and most profound bits of the book Cara talks about the Dr. who first discovered that germs ( and set the stage for Lister and others) were the cause of lots of deaths of women who came into teaching hospitals to give birth. He realised that Doctors must wash thier hands after handling cadavers before treating women giving birth.

He was derided endlessly by his colleagues but set up a ward where deaths droped by 90% due to the new hygene.
He was so abused by other Drs that he had a nervous breakdown was put in Bedlam Hospital where he later died of beatings by the guards.
Now we are outraged by MRSA and other bugs in our hospitals but this is what happens to new thinkers....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edain VINE VOICE on 30 April 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One day someone might televise this story, and it may be brilliant, but I suspect it will only be a 30 minute show because I'm not entirely sure that enough really happened to justify a book of this length.

A girl is killed. Bad people did it - a bafflingly obvious case; imagine a swaggering thug was the last person to see his girlfriend alive, and was seemingly never questioned, nor suspected, nor his house searched - and a young woman takes action. However, rather than perhaps a chapter on poor police performance, we are basically given 40% of a description of small-town mindsets and 60% of meandering backstory about the upbringing of said young woman, which was probably an eclectic and hippie upbringing to the townsfolk, but to the audience appeared mostly ordinary (books! vegetables! eco-awareness! philosophy!).

We get the beginnings of a 'cold, bitter detective' story, but she eventually drifts off too, forgotten for the sake of another chapter about people's suspicions about organic farming, maybe a bit of high-school drama which is erased in favour of writing the most dramatic elements in the form of bland, bulletpointed police reports, an escape ploy as unrealistic as the original police investigation, and an ending without closure - very popular these days.

The pieces of the puzzle, however, are beautifully written. They just don't form a coherent whole for anyone seeking a crime story or an insight into human nature. Too many of the characters are kept at too great a distance, regarded in second and third hand accounts, so we are unable to make any judgements about them at all. The ones we get closest to are the ones that do the least.
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