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The Small Hours Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Length: 225 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product Description

Review

The Small Hours excites with refined delights . . . Boyt's economical prose remains elegantly polished, her descriptions of the subtleties of psychotherapy spine-tingling . . . A meaty yet accessible novel possessing great psychological rigour (Lucy Beresford Sunday Times)

Boyt is a compassionate chronicler of the human heart . . . The point of this novel is not whether your dreams succeed or fail, but whether you're still willing to risk having dreams at all. In Harriet Mansfield, Boyt has drawn a character whose moral and emotional courage is both convincing and heartbreaking (Rebecca Abrams Financial Times)

The Small Hours is an absolute gem of a novel: exquisite, diamond-bright and lacerating to the hardest of hearts (Amanda Craig Literary Review)

Book Description

A wonderful and startling novel about the havoc and pain, healing and love that comes with growing up in a family. Like A.L. Kennedy and Ali Smith, Susie Boyt is an exquisite writer, thoughtful and truly original.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 755 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008FQ1AGO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #248,862 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In Susie Boyt's new novel, we meet the main character, thirty-eight-year-old Harriet, just as she is ending her last session with her psychiatrist after several years of therapy. Harriet, tall, ungainly, with flaming red hair, has not had an easy life: abused by her mother; rebuffed by her brother; even Paris loathes her, she tells us, where the assistants in shoe shops gasp with horror when she asks to try a continental size 43. Harriet thinks herself exaggerated and overblown: "I am a sort of caricature. I am big, garish, I'm overt. When I'm in a car with people they wind their windows down to let a bit of me out!" After time spent in a psychiatric hospital and follow-up sessions with her psychiatrist, Harriet realizes the time has come to take control of her life and with a large inheritance to help her, she decides to open her own nursery school - but this will not be an ordinary school; this will be the nursery school of her dreams.

As Harriet sets to work to realize her dream, creating a wonderful establishment where academic achievement is eschewed in favour of art, music and creative play, the reader begins to ask oneself who Harriet is doing this for. Is it so she can give the children in her care the sort of early life experience that was denied to her? Is she trying to make herself feel better by attempting to cancel out what happened to her when she was a child, or is Harriet understandably trying to feel valued and to convince her family that she is worth taking notice of? And are Harriet's dreams of her own little piece of heaven finally realized, or does life have a few more punches in store for our heroine?
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Comment 13 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Frances Stott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'll begin with what I loved about this novel; it's unlikely heroine. Tall, ungainly, with huge feet and flaming red hair and no self-confidence, Harriet has a lot to prove, especially as she has just emerged from years of therapy to help her to come to terms with her abusive childhood. Given a large amount of money, Harriet, with (it would seem) no experience, sets up a small private nursery school, where little girls can play and create and have a marvellous time among idyllic surroundings (perhaps to compensate for her own childhood deprivations?). This was a promising start, and I was looking forward to an absorbing read.

However, the narrative jumps back and forth in time, from the opening of the school to the selling off of its assets several years later within the first few pages, then back to the school, to the illness of Harriet's mother and a glimpse of reconciliation, back to the school again, and finally to the rather abrupt ending....and I found this really frustrating. There is no chronological thread, and the writer seems to lead the reader hither and yon at will. This happens a lot in modern novels, I find, and sometimes it works well. But for me, it spoiled this novel, and although the writing is at times wonderful and Harriet a most sympathetic heroine, this wasn't enough for me.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes , if you're lucky , you find an author who seems to write especially for you . Susie Boyt is mine and her latest novel The Small Hours is a marvel.
It's funny , wry , heartbreaking and hopeful , her heroine Harriet Mansfield is an inspiring creation and the story of what's happened to her in the past and how she attempts to overcome it is terribly moving . There's a lot of pain in this book but much humour too , it's also ravishingly well -written and I know I'll be returning to Harriet again as well as buying it for all my friend's for Christmas.
A beautiful book about the best and worst of how we treat each other.
Highly recommended.
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When Harriet Mansfield is left a legacy, she decides to open a nursery school for girls. She does not want to cram them with facts, but to make their first experiences of education joyful and idyllic. Her emphasis is on fun and creativity - arts and crafts, gardening, cookery and lots of praise fill her pupil's days. From the very beginning of this novel, we are aware that the school closes down, despite the fact that Harriet is a passionate and enthusiastic headmistress. However, despite her good intentions, we also question her motives. Does she really wish to provide the kind of school which enables girls to have a good start, or is she trying to replace something missing in her own life? For Harriet is also a very damaged and emotionally unstable woman, on the verge of a breakdown. Aged thirty eight, red haired and six foot one, she towers above almost everyone she meets and feels clumsy and lacks confidence. As the story unfolds, we learn of Harriet's difficult relationship with her mother and her brother. She has suffered a life full of `slights and disappointments' and longs to be loved by the mother who constantly denies her the closeness she craves.

Meanwhile, Harriet's attempts to make her young charges life perfect is challenged by parental demands and their own problems at home. Her optimism and cheerfulness is often misplaced - she takes the girls to a local market, but the local colour consists of dodgy characters and suspicious deals going on in corners. However, despite everything, Harriet is a character who soon makes you adore her. Although this is a short novel, it deals with some serious issues but, full of dark humour, it is in no way a depressing book at all.
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