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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written psychological thriller
It must be a nightmare to come home after leaving your baby for the first time, to find that the infant you return to is not the one you left. Even more so when you cannot convince those around you, who put your story down to post-natal depression. This is the starting point for this well-written psychological thriller. It is written in two voices, that of the mother,...
Published on 4 Feb 2007 by joc66

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing ending
I absolutely loved it - couldn't put it down UNTIL got to about forty pages from the end and it all turned into nonsense. I agree with an earlier reviewer - the fact that whole swathes of the book were told in the first person just made a complete nonsense of the denouement, if you could call it that. There really wasn't a twist at the end. It was always going to be one...
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by Lunar Sway


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing ending, 22 Mar 2012
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I absolutely loved it - couldn't put it down UNTIL got to about forty pages from the end and it all turned into nonsense. I agree with an earlier reviewer - the fact that whole swathes of the book were told in the first person just made a complete nonsense of the denouement, if you could call it that. There really wasn't a twist at the end. It was always going to be one of two outcomes and it was just one of them. No surprise at all.

I will probably try another one of Sophie Hannah's books. But I won't be rushing to it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a patch on Hurting Distance, 21 Oct 2008
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I couldn't wait to read this after Hurting Distance, but although it started off really well, I found myself enjoying it less and less as it progressed and by the end I felt completely let down and rather uncomfortable. The narrator seems convinced that her baby has been swapped with a different child. Her husband believes she's mistaken, and then turns out to be some kind of weird sadist which is really unpleasant to read, and the only other main character is his manipulative and controlling mother. So one of those two has to be the baddie and as they're both so vile there's not as much tension as there should be. The plot doesn't hang together, as other reviewers have said the vital revelations about the murderer are completely unfeasible SPOILER COMING - would a really intelligent person (as we're told a million times the murderer is) hide the one piece of evidence that could convict her in her own handbag? I think not. I've given it two stars because Sophie Hannah is a really good writer, but honestly I wouldn't bother.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down, 30 Aug 2009
Reading the back of this book i was looking forward to reading it and the mystery it was going to tell. The book was okay however when it ended it left lots of questions. I didnt understand the relevance of some the detail in the book for example the way her husband treated her - by the end of the book this was irrelevant it seemed and didnt go anywhere. The twist at the end was disapointing as well, i was expecting something far more exciting and that it had happened for a better reason. I felt this book was a bit like a balloon, the suspense growing and growing and then bang it popped and was all gone.
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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written psychological thriller, 4 Feb 2007
By 
joc66 (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
It must be a nightmare to come home after leaving your baby for the first time, to find that the infant you return to is not the one you left. Even more so when you cannot convince those around you, who put your story down to post-natal depression. This is the starting point for this well-written psychological thriller. It is written in two voices, that of the mother, and of one of the detectives who is sent to investigate the mystery at "The Elms", (the home of Alice's mother-in-law, and devoted grandmother of 'little face'). This 'dual voice' actually works well and the pages turn swiftly. This is a gripping read.

The ultimate resolution is perhaps slightly predictable, although it is always easier to set up mysteries than to resolve them satisfactorily. However, the characters are sufficiently believable, and the steps towards reaching the conclusion are sufficiently intricate to make this an enjoyable, if slightly disturbing read. The scenes played out between Alice and her husband are particularly chilling. I will certainly look out for Sophie Hannah's next novel. I wonder, incidentally, if she will give the detectives in this novel a second outing, as there is certainly scope to develop their characters further!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather Disappointing, 7 Feb 2007
By 
Amazon Customer (Manchester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I bought this on the strength of its reviews but was somewhat disappointed. It's undoubtedly a personal thing but I just couldn't make the parts of the characters fit together: the hard-as-nails, chain-smoking female sergeant who then turns out to be a Cambridge arts graduate; the tightly-wound, neurotic detective constable - a Woody Allen-type if ever there was - who then turns out physically to be something of a lumbering giant; the different personae of the husband, David. As for the main character, I kept willing someone to give her the big slap she so richly deserved. Added to the plotline, this all gave a sense of a just bit too much unreality. So . . . I read it, it passed the time, but it will now be passed along to the Oxfam shop rather than recommended to a friend.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very similar to other Hannah books, 7 Nov 2009
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
I recently read Hannah's The Other Half Lives and found it literally unputdownable and was a little surprised at some of the less positive reviews. Having now read Little Face, her first book, I wonder if that's less to do with the books themselves and more about the way each of her books seems to duplicate itself in terms of story, structure and writing style. So maybe the first of her books you read is great, and then there are diminishing returns with the second, third etc?

Little Face has an intriguing beginning: Alice has just had a traumatic birth and she comes home from her first outing to claim that the baby in her house is not hers, that Florence has been swapped for a strange child while her husband has been asleep. No-one believes her: not her husband or his controlling mother with whom they live, or the police. Then, a week later, Alice and the baby go missing and the police are forced to confront her story, uncovering an earlier crime associated with the same family.

Hannah makes good use of elements from classic gothic: what goes on in the privacy of houses (e.g. Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Grange), the difference between the public and private faces of people (e.g.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), and twists ideas of motherhood and the bonds of love. However her style is a little pedestrian, and the structure of both books I've read very similar: a first-person narrative interspersed with a third-person narrative from the police persepective. This does serve to increase the tension as bits of the story are with-held from us, but becomes quite contrived.

I also found the relationship between the police officers and the character of especially Charlie to be unnecessary and distracting. I was unconvinced that Charlie, who came over as petty, spiteful and vindictive, could also be as brilliant at her job as we're told she is. Perhaps this relationship was spoilt by the fact I'd read a later book and knew where it was heading.

So, in summary, this is an intriguing book which doesn't quite deliver: the dénouement, especially, was pretty limp, and lots of issues were started and never really followed up (e.g. Alice's husband's behaviour). A good read but not brilliant and, if you've read any other Hannah, fairly predictable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pointless page-turning once again..., 27 Feb 2011
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I read Sophie's 'A room swept white' and was hugely dissapointed. But I bought both books at the same time so I thought I'll give her another try. Well...I'm done with her books for good.
The novel is definetely a page-tuner, I read it in one day. So was 'a room swept white'. But the ending here is just a huge dissapointment, characters are extreme and all of them could use a good psychiatrist! And don't get me even started about the husband!Why, on Earth would he suddenly turn into such a saddist after never showing any signs of that? His behavior does not add anything to the book at all ...well it shocks so if that was Sophie's goal - achieved! SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS The initial investigation about Laura's murder was obviosuly done by incompetent detectives, and knowing it was Charlie I am not surprised at all as she seems to think very highly of herself without a proper foundation for that. Why would Vivianne not shred the bag into tiny,little pieces; burn it; take it with her to Africa and leave it in the middle of a tropical rainforest...well that I just don't know! Instead she chose to keep it in her locker as a souvenir? Ridiculous and unrealistic! This is not a good psychological thriller but a decent ending could have reedemed it a little...if only there was one!
I give it two starts as it was a page-turner, pointless one but still. I don't plan to read any more books of Sophie Hannah.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful ..., 11 Jun 2013
By 
J. N. Brown (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Lots of stereotypical characters with no depth and a really long drawn out plot line. I had to finish it, as the book had been bought for me and I'd been asked several times if it had been any good. Sorry to say, I've never read anything so bad in years.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 20 Aug 2007
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The ingredients for a good psychological thriller are all there: Alice, the mother who is convinced her newborn baby daughter Florence has been switched with another baby in her own home of all places. David, her husband, who is convinced his wife has gone mad with post-natal depression and refuses to even acknowledge Alice's doubts. Vivienne, David's mother, perfect organizer of his and Alice's lives, after the tragic murder of David's first wife, Laura, whom he had divorced some time before. Felix, David's and Laura's child, is now living with them all at The Elms, Vivienne's huge and stately home. The alleged kidnapping/switch takes place at The Elms and the police get involved. This starts off a series of considerations for all involved, including the two police detectives assigned to this peculiar case, Simon and Charlie. Psychological twists & turns ensue, which also lead to the reopening of Laura's murder case, despite the confession of her killer, now serving a sentence. A gripping story.

Why the 2 stars then? I admit I was hooked from the very beginning of this book, which is written in two "voices": Alice's, self-describing her actions and anguish, whereas the rest of the characters and circumstances are reported as seen from the outside.

Up to a certain point, I would have given this book 4 stars. What disappointed me was that, upon finishing it, I realised that the facts had not been fairly and truthfully presented from the beginning. True, one could still guess and make assumptions -after all, isn't that the... thrill of thrillers?- but in my opinion this book was deceiving for the way it started and ended. I could tell you in more detail what I refer to specifically, but that would give the story away. If you buy it, you'll find out.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a let-down to be honest..., 7 July 2011
By 
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I'm not going to summarise the plot of this book as that has been done a lot on here already, but I would like to add my two pence worth after finishing this book earlier today and being a bit irritated by it! To be honest, the more and more I think about it, the more faults I start to find with it- and I'd expected it to be such a cracking read from all the accolades sent its way and it being (very highly) billed as a `psychological thriller.'

I suppose it's a good thing that the book did make me think when I'd finished it and I did like the premise of the novel very much when I picked it up- it's just that after a really promising (but very slow) start I felt that this book just grew a bit odd and fell a bit flat somewhere towards the middle. Also, after creating her characters and making them behave a certain way, Sophie Hannah seemed to turn them completely on their heads with no rhyme or reason- David (the husband) for example, suddenly became unquestionably evil and resorted to deplorable mind games to punish his wife and police Detective Charlie became a spiteful b*tch! I get what Hannah was trying to achieve, really I do, it's just that it wasn't tied in to the story particularly well and I was left gritting my teeth in frustration. Also, I didn't particularly like Alice, the main protagonist very much either- particularly towards the end of the novel. You feel like after you have invested time in getting to know her, everything is switched around- and whilst I like the unreliable narrator as much as the next person, in this book it just wasn't tied together very neatly.

The ending was a bit rushed and disconnected and whilst Sophie Hannah can admittedly write rather sinister characters and create sinister sounding situations, I just found myself getting a bit frustrated by events and the continuous jumps forwards and backwards in time. Some of the characters actions as well, became a bit questionable and some things were never fully resolved- in particular David's (the husband's) absolutely evil behaviour. The reader is just left hanging in the final chapter- shouldn't he be punished in some way for his actions?! Argh! What an anti-climax.

As I've said, it's a shame that the ending to this book was so poor- after the build up and twists and turns it just fell short at the final hurdle. If you like stories told by unreliable narrators then I'd possibly recommend this book to you as you genuinely don't know who to believe or what is going on. The book wasn't bad exactly, for me it was just nowhere near as good as I'd hoped- hence the two stars. I probably won't be rushing to read another one of Sophie Hannah's books in future however- I'd been told they were rather formulaic and unfortunately the other reviews on here seem to confirm that notion.
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