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2.9 out of 5 stars108
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 4 December 2011
I started reading this, and then kept reading it to see how the author could resolve the situation she had set up. The answer is, only by making the explanation so ludicrous that I am surprised the book was ever published. I felt cheated. If she could not think of a decent ending, she should have junked the plot, not tried to convince the readers that that this could happen in any realm of possibility.
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on 19 October 2009
This was the first book by Sophie Hannah I have read and I found it quite frustrating. There was a good central mystery but its impact was diluted by a cacophony of superfluous characters especially amongst the police. The book would have had more impact with fewer pages.
In order to maintain suspense the backstories of the central characters were revealed slowly but for readers new to the series there was also a needless reveal on Charlie Zailer's backstory and as this was brief it could have been put in earlier, bringing all readers up to date. There was no indication in my book that this was part of a series. I wondered why there were so many police, rather skimpily characterised but now I realise they were all dragged in from earlier books to the detriment of this one. None of their interactions seemed particularly interesting, logical or believable.
This is not real life crime but some of the actions in this book were nonsensical even for artists. So that was a slight problem. And what was supposed to be happening in the final chapter?
These could all have been addressed by a decent bit of editing. Then this book could have been very good.
I think the positive reviewers in the media were trying to keep the pot boiling for a British poet.
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on 15 July 2009
I loved Sophie Hannah's previous three psychological thrillers, however 'The Other Half Lives' was a huge disappointment. Having looked forward to reading it I was greatly relieved to finally finish it. The plot was so convoluted and twisted that this seemed to be the entire point of the book, rather than the story itself. The book was as tedious as the relationship between the priniciple characters Simon and Charlie is becoming. There was barely another sympathetic character in the book. There were pages and pages and more pages of explanation of the dreary plot and the 'reveal' itself went on for chapters. The final scene with one of the principle characters gasping out her version of events made me cringe on behalf of the author, it was embarrassingly bad. Despite a completely ludicrous premise I feel this could have been a good book if it had been edited by about a hundred pages ? Where was the editor ? I hope Sophie Hannah goes on to write more thrillers, but that they are much more akin to her previous three than this one and that this isn't the start of a Patricia Cornwell type descent into pap.
I'm at a loss to understand the favourable reviews given to the book by some of the national press. I can only think that it's a case of Emperor's New Clothes, nobody wanted to admit that actually the plot was insanely beyond them and beyond almost anybody's boredom threshold.
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on 21 April 2009
Like others who have reviewed this, I am a fan of Sophie Hannah's and looked forward to reading this book, but was sadly disappointed. The characters were deeply unsympathetic (the only one who's half way reasonable is Charlie's sister, with whom one feels deeply in her exasperation with Charlie), both the two main protagonists and the two police - and I'm by now utterly fed up with Charlie and Simon's totally unconvincing "romance" (that isn't), to the point where it's quite impossible to see what they see in each other or why they ever became involved in the first place.

For neurotic/psychotic characters the reader is much better off with Barbara Vine, and for police with difficulties with relationships I shall stick to the far superior Kate Atkinson. Avoid this one!
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VINE VOICEon 13 September 2009
On page 491, the author writes: "The story, when Charlie told it to herself, seemed too outlandish to be possible." Never a truer statement was written in a book. This story is so implausible, even by psychological thriller standards, that I threw it across the room at one point. None of the characters are likeable. That in itself doesn't matter. After all, Humbert Humbert must be one of the most unpleasant characters ever created yet Lolita is a superbly written book. No, what matters is that I didn't care at all what happened to the characters. They deserved each other. I enjoyed Little Face, didn't think much of Hurting Distance and found The Point of Rescue ok. After this one though, I won't buy another of her books.
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on 1 October 2009
I picked this book up, excited to read a book by an author I'd not read before. Normally I love thrillers and crime fiction. However, I've found 'The Other Half Lives' deeply frustrating. The plot hangs around a man, Aidan Seed, confessing to the murder 'years ago' of a woman who is very much alive. His girlfriend, Ruth Bussey, is one of the main characters and frankly irritating. The author tries to create a sense that Something Terrible has happened to several of the characters in the past. However, by halfway through you're no nearer knowing what this is (despite numerous heavy-handed and portentous hints) and the premise of a murder that apparently never happened wears thin. In summary, an over-laden plot involving characters I just can't bring myself to care about. I've given it a good shot, but might have to admit defeat...
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I usually love Sophie Hannah and was excited to have this latest big fat book. However I found it really all too much of a puzzle and sadly difficult to get involved with. I just never cared for any of the characters and the plot seemed too clever by half, in fact it was almost insane. The idea of artists being so obsessively jealous and machiavellian didn't work for me and I felt excluded from the sub plot about the detective Charlie and her past. Too many people to get to know and nearly all of them absolutely ghastly with the most disturbing ideas of brutality. Not one I could recommend or want to pass on, for me it wasn't worth the effort of reading - or, being so heavy, holding!
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on 6 December 2009
Having never read a Sophie Hannah book before - and this one being recommended by our Book Club - I was looking forward to it. However ---- apart from disliking all the characters (not necessarily a negative although it does help to have a little empathy with at least one), I found all the relationships (particularly that of Charlie and Simon) totally unbelievable. Having read other reviews, perhaps I should try her earlier novels featuring those characters to try to understand their engagement? The whole novel was unnecessarily convoluted and verbose - where were the editors? Book Club meeting next week - shall be interested to see what the others say!
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on 10 November 2009
First book by this author that I have read. I feel that the reviews on the jacket must have been written about another book altogether! In my opinion, reading this book sober is like reading another book after three or four glasses of wine i.e. you cant follow the plot (which is so muddled and convoluted anyway) and dont know what the hell is going on! Usually when you re-read in the morning, you actually get some clarity - a very difficult thing with this book. The characters are two dimensional,you dont feel any empathy, sympathy or affinity with any of them. I struggled to get into it and nearly gave up several times but persevered and was sadly disappointed. I would not recommend it and I dont think I'll be reading any more of her books based on this one.
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2009
What can I say? After enjoying SH's other novels, I couldn't wait to get started on 'the other half lives' but by page 110 I was floundering and by 335, possibly suicidal...
As if the plot wasn't yawningly slow enough, the characters were utterly boring, one dimensional and irritating and there was so much superflous padding out, it was virtually impossible to actually find the story and was a chore to read.
Please please please get the next one right or I won't be bothering after that...
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