- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Century (2 Feb. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846059704
- ISBN-13: 978-1846059704
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 694,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
So Much Pretty Paperback – 2 Feb 2012
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"Poetic, intelling and shocking" (Rosamund Lupton, bestselling author of Sister)
"Beautiful, stealthy...an impassioned, intelligent and important work of art" (Chris Cleave)
"[A] dark but powerful début novel" (The New Yorker)
"A skillful, psychologically acute tale of how violence affects a small town" (Los Angeles Times)
"[A] fearless first novel" (New York Times Book Review)
A gripping psychological suspense debutSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
There are many voices that contribute to So Much Pretty, foremost of which seem to be Gene and Claire the parents of Alice, Alice herself and Stacy Flynn, investigative local reporter.
The setting is a small, sad town in upstate New York: a "farming" town. The community seems dominated physically and socially by the Haytes farm and the family that live there, the Haytes. They have a dairy factory farm that also farms cow manure and spreads the smell of cow faeces over the town. The description of the lives of the cows alone is visceral and highly upsetting. I don't think it is any accident that the Haytes don't see these cows as living creatures, just the means to an end (money), which is a mirror to the way father and son view women - as sub-human and faceless. The rest of the town on the whole kow tow to this family which is the wealthiest in this impoverished, largely unemployed and isolated community.Read more ›
The authors writing style is truly beautiful, but her plot-line and ability to engage with her audience is confusing to say the least.
I had such expectations of this book given it's critical endorsements, and it's comparisons to other leading writers and their work, but Lord, was it hard going!
The only reason it got two stars as opposed to one from me is that I didn't want to be totally mean spirited. Shame that such good writing has all been in vain.
When a local woman goes missing and is later found tortured to death, the small rural community of Haeden, New York State - which would clearly like to look the other way - is forced to confront some harsh realities by two women, local high school student Alice Piper, and newspaper reporter Stacy Flynn. I loved the sense of place: from grungy Alphabet City in the early 90s, where Alice's idealistic anarchist parents live, to the claustrophobic small-town atmosphere of Haeden, Hoffman evokes wildly diverse places and people perfectly. There are some brilliant twists that make the reason for the odd, scattergun structure of the narrative fall into place slowly.
Admittedly, it took me a while to get into the story. Frequent changes of characters and switching from the first to the third person with startling regularity, can be confusing to begin with, but I urge readers to stick with it.
The story is set in the small town of Haeden, in New York State, the type of place where everybody knows everyone else. A young waitress called Wendy disappears, which unsettles the whole community and the police appear to make no headway in trying to find Wendy's whereabouts. Some say she has run away to start a new life in the city. Those who know her well do not buy in to this theory and fear she is dead. Six months later, Wendy's body is discovered in the woods and it is obvious that she has been starved and tortured, both physically and sexually. But what is puzzling is the fact she has only been dead a few days. Where has she been all this time?
Cara Hoffman builds the suspense brilliantly, and the story unravels through the eyes and experiences of the inhabitants of Haeden and Wendy's former school friends. A journalist, wanting to find that ultimate headliner, is relentless in her pursuit of the facts. The book's tragic conclusion is totally unexpected and the realisation of what ghastly things have been happening in this small town comes as a shock, to say the least. I was gripped by Hoffman's writing and found it hard to put this one down. Although the subject matter is disturbing, a great deal is left to the imagination, and the writer does not revel in violence for violence's sake. That elevates this novel beyond a simple whodunnit or psychological thriller. Highly recommended for it's uniqueness.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A gripping plot, cleverly told through different narrative perspectives, with elements of "Gone Girl" and "The Secret History" and an originality and inventiveness... Read morePublished on 3 Jan. 2015 by Rosalind
I would never have picked this up if it weren’t for my book club but it’s safe to say that I won’t be reading anything written by Hoffman. Ever. Read morePublished on 18 May 2014 by Hannah Wallis
Really enjoyed this, good character development for everyone except Alice who I found a bit more of a mystery and the ending could have had more depth. Read morePublished on 6 Aug. 2013 by Jason Garbutt
I enjoyed this book. Found it easy to read and was drawn along with the narrative. Interesting story told from different character perspectives and all tied up nicely at the end.Published on 7 July 2013 by Miss Sarah K Whelan
My book club chose this because of all the oh-so-wonderful reviews.
Every one of us struggled to finish it. Read more
i am afraid i did not get in to this book. i thought it was going to be a good edgy and an unput downable book that i would get in to , but i was wrong. Read morePublished on 27 Mar. 2013 by ireadnovels
This must be my biggest disappointment - bookwise - in years ! How on EARTH could this book have gotten such fantastic ratings and praise (stunning, haunting, fearless, staggering,... Read morePublished on 1 Nov. 2012 by Iris
I was really looking forward to reading this - the blurb on the back cover and the sypnosis describing the book as "a gripping, psychological suspense debut" sounded just like my... Read morePublished on 17 Aug. 2012 by Nikki
So Much Pretty is ostensibly the story of a 19 year old waitress, Wendy White, who disappears and is then found 6 months later badly bruised and only recently deceased. Read morePublished on 10 Aug. 2012 by Bacchus