Sophie Hannah

I once watched a friend successfully smoke a cigarette whilst taking a shower. It was very impressive and so expertly done I knew this wasn’t his first time. He wasn’t staging a ‘look-at-me’ trick.  He simply had to smoke in the shower owing to time constraints. He was hung-over, just out his bed and we had to get ready to attend a wedding. In a much earlier and similar scene, I once successfully finished the last chapter of a Dean R Koontz book in the shower for the same reason. I had to. I was a little scared of the events in the book (I was 16) and needed to get to the end to ensure a happy ending, plus I was running late for work.

Last night I successfully made creamed spinach for the first time – whilst – reading my first Sophie Hannah book. Quite a feat I feel.

I am enjoying Sophie Hannah’s ‘Little Face’ very much indeed and I read last night until 3am. I am also enjoying a different reading experience after our close reading exercises and am mulling over whether my enjoyment has been heightened because of my new found ability to read differently. Three weeks ago would I just have thought it was a good story?

I think too that I am reading a bit slower. And I am learning to spot a metafictional device like a Jimmy Choo sale sign.

Around page 27 I had a ‘jump’ moment when I foresaw at least two possible plot twists – one of them is my prime suspect ‘main twist’. This made me chuckle somewhat as I have a nephew and a friend who are both drive me nuts with their ability to know who the killer is from the opening 5 minutes of any movie. It’s a weird genetic trait I think, and I am always sad because I feel they have missed the thrill of the whodunit. I almost never know and sometimes have to put books down in order to hyperventilate into a brown bag. And I am always the loudest gasper in the audience at the moment of reveal – although even I knew what was in the box.

The beautiful interplay between the characters POV in Little Face is disconcerting and exciting. Each shift of POV takes the plot forward very cleverly and seamlessly. Every time I establish liking, respect and trust for a character, someone else comes along and blatantly shows them up as liars. They are all shifty. And someone is a liar, liar, pants on fire…but who? I feel a little as though I am a detective sorting through different statements to catch a glimpse of the truth. And there is definitely something up with Sergeant Waterhouse. What is an R9? Is he gay? There is also a very malevolent, sinister undercurrent which has me wanting to scream ‘Don’t go in the basement! The lights aren’t working and the chap two doors up is missing his chainsaw!”

The only other book I have come across which made me stop short because I suddenly didn’t know who to believe or what was really going on was the brilliant ‘An Instance of The Fingerpost’ by Ian Pears. I was happily tra-la-la-ing along, wholeheartedly accepting everything that was told to me, when like Little Face, someone else had a quiet word in my ear and pointed out to me that perhaps not all was as it seemed. Years ago I worked for a chap who used to say there are always three sides to any situation – your version, my version and the facts.

I must away to work now but I will let you know if my plot twist prophecy was correct.

Postscript: when the friend who can smoke in the shower announced that he had quit smoking after attending an Allen Carr EasyWay seminar, I signed up immediately out of embarrassment. For all you smokers – if a chap who needs to smoke in the shower can stop so can you!

Postscript II: I don’t usually watch men in the shower. There were special circumstances.

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