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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 6 June 2011
Sam Taylor is was raised by a single mother who marries a man who turns into a violent step-father and Sam becomes one of the many young men who are thrown out of their `family' homes by a man who usurps the role of head of householder without choosing to serve as father. After a few years of roughing it, Sam turns his life around, at least on the material level, and becomes a self-made man. It's a familiar enough story on one level - all the real life rough diamonds who polish themselves into success are examples of this story in action.

But this self-made man, with a superb standard of living, `perfect' girlfriend and every possible advantage, is unmade when he meets a woman whom we cannot resist and who can't resist him. And at this point the story becomes something darker, more complex and quite disturbing: it's about love, but also about risk and the way that risk can be a kind of compulsion. From the moment Sam and Kay meet at a wedding they are compelled towards each other, regardless of that risk. For Sam the risk is the collapse of his beautiful, but precarious lifestyle but for Kay the risks are greater: she's already married and to a powerful man - who doesn't like losing anything, least of all his wife.

As the story unfolds we see similarities between Sam and Kay - both have fracture lines in their family histories that they have concealed but which bring them together in a mutual and ultimately destructive love affair. The collapse of their fake lives is set against the collapse of the finance industry in which Sam works and where Kay's husband is a major player to create a micro/macro scenario of loss, damage and spiralling madness.

The Hummingbird and the Bear is an unusual book - written by a man about themes usually reserved for `women's literature'; part love story and part fast-moving thriller; somewhat of a moral fable but also a forensic examination of the global banking collapse, it's a rare creature - a romantic book you could give to a man to read without having to apologise for handing him a 'relationship story'. Highly recommended for intelligent readers who enjoy passionate writing.
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on 27 September 2011
Nicholas Hogg has produced a tense, fast moving page turner here. I couldn't put it down and managed to rattle through the book in a couple of days, which is never a bad sign.

Once again the author has managed to capture his deep understanding of the cultures he has obviously spent considerable time in and incorporate them seamlessly into a flowing tale. Imagine Bill Brysonesque observations subtly woven into a thrilling novel.

Congratulations to Mr Hogg once again and I am thoroughly looking forward to the next installment.
0Comment4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse seems I'm in the minority in not exactly being overwhelmed by this novel. I found it a fairly decent, though not spectacular read if I'm honest and this is the sort of book that I will easily forget about now that I've finished it. I'm not knocking the writing style, which was certainly appealing enough- its just I found it hard to feel any kind of connection or empathy with the main characters and the plot itself seemed a bit dry and uninteresting though the premise had initially appealed to me.

The book is about `self-made' man, Sam, a financier who seems to have it all- a great job and a beautiful fiancée. It's not until he encounters Kay, a married American woman at a mutual friends wedding and he feels an instant connection with her that he wonders if he has really been as happy as he thought. The two of them begin a powerful affair that threatens to destroy them both.

This is the story of love, romance and taking risks and contains some other very heavy subject matters. It is also set against the collapse of the economy, which whilst I found a nice piece of symbolism, did make the story a little bit duller than what I'd anticipated.

My feelings about the characters in this book were also mixed- I didn't particularly like any of them, barring Jenni, quite possibly because I didn't approve of their actions, but generally I found them lacking in any particular substance. I also had to suspend my disbelief somewhat at the end of this novel- it just grew borderline ridiculous and the sensationalism didn't seem to anchor very well with the rest of the book. Despite that though, the author is very good in creating a vivid scene and I had no trouble in imagining the multiple settings and surroundings depicted in the novel itself. The novel shifts between some interesting places which I feel were portrayed quite clearly.

As I'm in the minority in not being knocked out by this book, maybe this is one you need to try for yourself? It could be that I'm missing the point or not picking up on the something wonderful about this book that other reviewers have fallen on- though if that is indeed the case then I completely fail to see what that is. My lasting thoughts of this book: it was a fairly pleasant way to pass a couple of hours, but certainly didn't set my world on fire.
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on 2 September 2011
This is an easy-to-read, lightweight thriller. The action skips between the UK and the USA, where self-made (and, in my view, self-obsessed) Sam falls desperately in love with another woman, whilst attending a wedding with his fiancee. He follows the new woman, Kay, to America, but must overcome her violent and possessive partner, Segur. Nicholas Hogg has an engaging writing style and uses language in interesting ways - some phrases and scenes are really memorable.

Despite this, I didn't particularly enjoy reading this novel. I found the characters unlikeable and hard to empathize with - Sam is just self obsessed, Kay is damaged and distant, and Segur is just a 2D villain out of a children's cartoon. Jenni - Sam's fiancee who he runs from - is probably the only likeable individual, but she's again a two dimensional sketch - just a girl from the nice side of the tracks who chose to go out with a bit-of-rough like Sam.

The story moves along at quite a pace, and whips up into a frenzy of action at the end. While I read the novel, I shouted at two of the characters 'DON'T DO THAT!' when they made a phenomenally stupid mistake with a credit card towards the end of the novel - all in all, you may need to suspend your disbelief, this pair are so daft.

I also found it disappointing that the author has clearly never been to Mexico - the corrupt, filthy, womanising country he paints may suit the story, but it's not the country I know and love.

If you're looking for a fast paced beach read, this'd be a good choice, but it's definitely a long way from literary fiction.
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Sam Taylor is a successful city analyst with a beautiful girlfriend, Jenni, and a wonderfully settled life in London. However, when he meets Kay at the wedding of a mutual friend, their attraction is instantaneous and powerful. With little regard Sam pursues Kay across the Atlantic to New York where she lives with her husband, Chris. What then follows is a passionate and dangerous liaison, which will ultimately threaten the very fabric of all their lives. On the surface this is a cautionary tale about deceit and the weaving of lies, and yet underneath is a story of irresistible love, and the disintegration of established lives. Throughout the novel, Sam and Kay's feelings for each other are dangerously out of control, and yet their unadulterated passion for each other is all consuming and undeniable.
From the opening page, I found the story easy to read, and as it moves along at quite a rapid pace, I found it difficult to put down. My only criticism is that at times you need to suspend belief for some of the later events - but overall, I enjoyed it.
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on 19 August 2013
I wasn't sure what to make of this book. It definitely didn't end in the way I expected it to, and while it was described as being set during the financial crisis it really didn't impact on the story in anyway. It annoys me when the chapters are too short - sometimes only a page, as you cannot get into the story and I felt like this the whole way through the book. The story is about an English man and an American women who meet during a wedding and their subsequent affair and the tragedy it entails. I simply did not feel the relationship in anyway.

The one redeeming feature was the descriptions of New York. Other than that I really feel like I am trying to find things I enjoyed about the book. It came highly recommended by a friend but I really disliked it.
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on 4 September 2012
The Hummingbird and the Bear is a real page-turner - I rushed through it and then regretted it! The book opens at a very sedate and middle-class wedding in the Cotswolds but quickly turns into a fast-paced romantic thriller.

An exploration of love, chemistry, adultery, `the one', conforming, choices, fragility, dysfunctional families etc Hogg brilliantly captures the emotions of the central character as he embarks on his journey.

The only downsides - there were a couple of cliches (I won't mention them as I don't want to spoil the ending!) and I didn't much like any of the characters. However neither of these things stopped me really really enjoying this book.
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on 4 August 2011
Nicholas Hogg has done it again. Well done.

I found it hard to put this book down. It has a fast pace and the characters are real and you can believe in them while the descriptions of New York, London and the Cotswolds are vivid and bring the story into sharp focus.

The backdrop of the story being the financial collapse was relevant as we watched what seemed like perfect lives unfold before our very eyes and you cannot help but compare the two. Looking for solutions in one that might be relevant for the other.

The fast pace of this novel however did not detract from the story or the detail needed for it to be believed. The balance was correct and this novel contains all the elements that make a great story.

I will be recommending this book to all my friends. An excellent read and I'm looking forward to the next one.
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on 29 December 2012
I did not like the main characters and felt very sorry for Jenni, but anyway she was too perfect and he didn't deserve her.
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on 18 October 2012
We read this as part of our, very informal, book club. It was the only book we all read (normally there's at least two of us who don't manage to finish it!) so if that's not a testiment to buy it I don't know what is! It's a great book, makes you think...enjoy!
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