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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Woman on the Edge
Penny Hancock's 'Tideline' is the author's debut novel and, for a first book, this is a promising start; it is unsettling, chilling and very gripping. Sonia, in her early forties, is a voice coach who teaches from her beautiful home in Greenwich, called River House, which is set beside the River Thames. Her husband, Greg, who is often away on business and her daughter,...
Published on 5 Feb 2012 by Susie B

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately Unsatisfying
This book started off with an intriguing storyline. Sonia clearly has damaged past but I didn't feel the author went into enough detail and left me wondering why she acted as she did. I was expecting more between Sonia and Harry, in the end I thought he was a wasted character.
In parts the storyline was gripping but sadly it didn't hold my attention.
The ending...
Published 18 months ago by beesley176


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Woman on the Edge, 5 Feb 2012
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tideline (Hardcover)
Penny Hancock's 'Tideline' is the author's debut novel and, for a first book, this is a promising start; it is unsettling, chilling and very gripping. Sonia, in her early forties, is a voice coach who teaches from her beautiful home in Greenwich, called River House, which is set beside the River Thames. Her husband, Greg, who is often away on business and her daughter, Kit, studying at university, are keen for Sonia to sell up, but Sonia grew up at River House, and now that the house has been left to her in her father's will, she is adamant that she will never move away. The river, she feels, is in her blood; her most intense moments of happiness and of sadness were experienced at River House and there is no way she will ever willingly leave it.

When Sonia answers her door one winter's day, she finds Jez, the fifteen-year-old nephew of her friend, Helen, calling to see if he might borrow an album that Sonia's husband offered him. Sonia invites Jez inside, pours him a drink, and whilst she sits watching him, she feels an overwhelming urge to keep him with her. She gives Jez too much alcohol, locks him in her husband's music room and plans how she can prevent him from leaving. Sonia's desire to keep Jez in her possession is prompted by traumatic events that happened when she was a teenager, when she felt an intense and obsessive love for Sebastian, a young man, who filled her every waking moment with a powerful need for him, and who left her under very tragic circumstances.

The telling of the story is divided between Sonia, in a first person narrative, and Sonia's friend, Helen, in a third person narrative. The chapters narrated by Sonia are strong and almost claustrophobic, pulling the reader in immediately; we can feel Sonia's desperation and her intense need to keep Jez with her, so that even though we know she is behaving in an alarming and irrational manner, we almost feel a sympathy for her, for she is clearly psychologically unwell. As the story develops we learn why Sonia feels compelled to behave the way she does, what happened to her and Sebastian, and why her father felt it necessary to end his own life.

Although parts of this story may seem rather far-fetched, Penny Hancock writes convincingly and her descriptive language is very good, especially when she describes Sonia's feelings about the river; she writes: "When the tide's out, you can hear the water on the shingle. There's a constant background rhythm. But when it's in, the sounds can catch you off-guard. Haven't you heard the pontoon? It sounds like a child crying...and you get those sudden surges when a boat goes by, the ebb and the flow...like life..."

With this story (which I found somewhat reminiscent of John Fowles 'The Collector') Penny Hancock has written a compelling and unsettling psychological thriller about the destructive power of obsession, of memories that won't remain dormant, and about the darkness that can lie deep within us.

4 Stars.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly satisfying, 14 Mar 2012
This review is from: Tideline (Hardcover)
The atmospheric setting and deliciously disturbing protagonist make 'Tideline'a gripping read from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed the witty contrasting of middle-class Greenwich with its darker underbelly. Sonia the kidnapper is not a nice woman - but she made me laugh and she made me sympathise with her as well.The younger characters, although flawed, came out best - one of the redeeming features of an otherwise very grim story. The plot definitely goads you with some implausibilities, but these contribute to the excitement, and are skilfully balanced by the little shocks of familiarity that occur throughout. This had me reading long into the night, and I will look forward to Penny Hancock's future books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite 5 stars, 7 Jan 2013
This review is from: Tideline (Paperback)
This is a really gripping book. If Alfred Hitchcock were alive he would turn it into a chilling cinematic thriller ! I really couldn't put it down and certainly didn't guess the twist near the end. It is well written in stylish evocative prose which lingers in the mind. I do have one problem with it and that is the ending. I can't say too much as I don't want to spoil it for other readers but the ending is , unlike the rest of the book, sudden, ill considered and ambiguous. This left me feeling slightly unsatisfied and hence four stars instead of five.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately Unsatisfying, 25 Jan 2013
This review is from: Tideline (Kindle Edition)
This book started off with an intriguing storyline. Sonia clearly has damaged past but I didn't feel the author went into enough detail and left me wondering why she acted as she did. I was expecting more between Sonia and Harry, in the end I thought he was a wasted character.
In parts the storyline was gripping but sadly it didn't hold my attention.
The ending was ridiculous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, 6 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Tideline (Paperback)
The writing is good, particularly when it comes to evoking place and social nuance. That said, the Thames theme is perhaps getting a little hackneyed, and Dickens does a much better job in Our Mutual Friend. The plot is gripping and suspenseful, especially to begin with, but I became rather tired of the Seb flashbacks, which came as an unwelcome interruption to the main plot. There was an artificiality to them, and a confusing sameness (all that crossing the Thames on rafts), and they turned out to be a very obvious plot device leading into the surprising end. Surprising, but also in many respects very puzzling. I was not at all sure what had happened at the very end, which was particularly incongruous in a novel where everything else is made very plain - rammed home, even, at times. I agree with other reviewers that the plot is derivative: I was reminded of John Fowles's The Collector in addition to the other works mentioned by them. At times, also, I must say that I felt a little bit soiled by the dirtiness and cruelty of what was going on in the novel and asked myself why I was reading this book. The answer, no doubt, is that the author is very good at suspense. But I don't think I'll be reading anything else by Penny Hancock.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read for most of the book but ending was a big let down, 19 Nov 2012
By 
JM (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Tideline (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book, until I reached the end and then I was left disappointed. It reels you in, keeps you turning the pages, and then leaves you with .... virtually nothing. All that tension and intrigue as to what would happen, and then the climax results in a few sentences that really tell you nothing so that you have to almost assume from the epilogue what happened, but you never really find out.
The basic plot: Sonia lives in the River House beside the Thames, one afternoon a neighbour's teenage nephew calls to borrow a record. Instead of giving it to him and letting him go, she persuades him to stay a while, drugs him, and locks him up. She then keeps him prisoner.
I worried that the book might be a little claustrophobic in such a situation, with few other characters involved, but it wasn't. From the beginning it had me hooked, I couldn't wait to turn the pages and I very much enjoyed it, and liked the style of writing. For this reason I give it 4 stars, but I was very disappointed in the ending, it was as though the author wrote a great book and then had no idea how to finish it, so wrapped it up very unsatisfactorily in a couple of sentences. With a better ending it would have been a 5 star book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disturbing, 6 Sep 2012
This review is from: Tideline (Kindle Edition)
The book started off good but was quite disturbing. You knew that she was a bit damaged from her past. It got a bit annoying and stupid near the end and was a bit disappointing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling debut, 15 Aug 2012
By 
Sarah "Sarah" (Bedfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tideline (Hardcover)
Tideline is a chilling and beautifully written debut from Penny Hancock. The plot centres on the disappearance of fifteen year old Jez. At the heart of the story is the River House, an imposing house by the river Thames that Sonia grew up in, she is very attached to the house and cannot bear the thought of leaving it.

Jez turns up at the River House one afternoon looking to borrow some music. Suddenly, Sonia is swept up with an overwhelming urge to keep him there. The story then takes a turn back to her first love and this is a theme throughout the book. The Thames is a powerful theme in the book and it seems that the water, and the River House itself, seem to hold secrets

Tideline is written in the first person from Sonia's point of view and gives the reader a real insight into her character. Parts of the novel are also written in the third person from the perspective of Helen who is Jez's aunt. I was hooked from the very first page, this is a book filled with suspense and I had to find out what would happen to Jez and Sonia. It is strange that the closeness of Sonia's thoughts actually had me feeling sympathetic to her at points.

This is an outstanding first novel, it is haunting and covers a disturbing subject, but is an addictive read at the same time. I cannot wait to read more from Penny Hancock.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of 2012 so far!, 27 July 2012
This review is from: Tideline (Paperback)
This is the best book I've read this year! I was gripped from the off, it was unputdownable, and I read it in three days, which means I did so over and above a bunch of other things I should have been doing, cos I never read books that quickly.

I'm not a big fan of crime/psycho thrillers per se, mostly because I find they stretch my credulity a bit too far. That wasn't the case with Tideline... Everything was plausible, loose ends were tied up, the twist in the tail/tale was satisfying and I didn't see it coming.

Penny Hancock writes like a dream, expecially about locations, and her style is well worked but never over-wrought.I'm disappointed to see this is her only book and I can't wait for the next one.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying read, 29 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Tideline (Hardcover)
An interview with the author prompted me to order "Tideline". The premise sounded intriguing and the idea of the plot revolving round the "relationship" between a middle aged woman and a teenage boy seemed like a brave move. Although I finished the book quickly because I wanted to get to the denouement, I found I was left a little unsatisfied. Sonia, the main protagonist, never fully came to life for me and I didn't really get the bottom of why she was motivated to behave in the way she did. Although one should not expect to fully empathise with someone who has clearly been damaged by a traumatic adolescence, I think a more skilled author could at least have done more to explore her mental journey between that point and her current state. Much of the narration was from her point of view and I would have liked to hear a bit more about her from some of the other characters. Sonia's husband was a one dimensional character whose disregard for her welfare seemed at best cavalier. As a doctor, he must have at least suspected something was wrong with his wife's mental state. The teenage Jez seemed far too compliant, even a little dim and I had to suspend quite a bit of disbelief to buy into the position he found himself in. The best explored character, for me, was the (almost) functioning alcoholic, Helen. Her neat depiction as a typical twenty first century mother who has tried to be a friend rather than a parent to her two sons and has reaped the reward of their potential underachievement may have been cliched but it worked for me. Her rivalries with her sister and mixed emotions towards Jez were very believeable and well portrayed and I wished I had got to know Sonia as well.
Middle class south London society was evoked nicely and the descriptions of Greenwich and the Thames were some of the most successful passages in the book. The ending delivered the obligatory twists some of which were more surprising than others and a pleasing feeling of impending doom gathered in the final chapters.
In conclusion, I feel that the idea behind Tideline was a good one, the setting was ideal for the plot and this was an ambitious storyline for a first novel. However, without any sympathy for Sonia or Jez found it hard to become as emotionally involved as I would have liked.
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Tideline
Tideline by Penny Hancock (Paperback - 24 May 2012)
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