Though I managed to knit my Christmas gifts and read The Goldfinch at the same time, I had a few afternoons and evenings of sofa-basking and listening having settled on A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah which I had borrowed as a single MP3/CD from the library eons ago. One book on a single disk which transferred onto my iPod (probably illegal...sorry) which saved the hassle of changing twelve CDs.
"Fliss Benson is a TV producer struggling to deal with a personal tragedy in her own life. She receives at work an anonymous card which consists of 16 numbers arranged in four rows of four. These numbers mean absolutely nothing to her. At the same time, she is handed a particularly unwelcome assignment: she has to work on a documentary about cot death and three mothers accused (wrongly, it seems) of murder: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. The controversial Dr Judith Duffy, who was responsible for the arraignment of the women after the death of their children, is now under investigation for misconduct, and the women have been set free. Fliss Benson’s reluctance to work on the film springs from a particularly personal issue -- involving both cot death and the suicide of someone very close to her...."
It was all enough to tempt me in and, like so many of Sophie Hannah's crime novels, absolutely riveting. Interestingly it has received mixed reviews as a 'reading' book which makes me wonder whether some books actually work as well if not better on audio, in which case all credit must also go to the narrator Julia Barry. I could only marvel at how anyone can juggle so many different voices for 14 hrs and 18 minutes, I was completely engrossed to the very last word. As the plot unfolds with it came all the tragedy and complexity of cot death along with the implications of wrongful arrest and imprisonment, and subsequent pardons. Ultimately those who actually were guilty of a crime might never, in the future, be found so. It all raised many issues which Sophie Hannah handles very astutely.
If you are new to Sophie Hannah's writing and like page-turner-y crime books featuring ordinary people who actually turn out to be slightly more than ordinary, and with twisty-turny plots and plenty of surprises thrown in then I can also highly recommend Little Face...here's an extract from thoughts back in 2006
So, on the reading front, if you fancy a bit of gripping psychological thriller fare look no further than Little Face.
I always enjoy some well-written, non-linear narrative too and Sophie Hannah is a master of it, beautifully controlled, so we're well ahead of ourselves with the some of the plot and then intriguing back story cleverly filled in and not a jot of confusion.
Alice sets off on her first guilt-laden excursion, sans baby Florence, in those exhausting days post-caesarian section.
Husband David is left in charge for two hours and when Alice returns the nightmare begins.She walks into the nursery and insists that the baby in the cot is not Florence. Worryingly,David's first wife has been murdered, so as well as the legacy of Laura to contend with there is also Vivienne, the controlling mother-in-law from hell....
and then there's The Point of Rescue which I wrote about in 2008..
"I was quickly into the step of Sally Thorning's frantic life as she spun all the plates on the poles, and who could blame her for continuing the pretence of a week away in a luxury hotel at a conference when in fact the conference had been cancelled ? It's but a small step into the arms of the mysterious Mark Bretherick and a brief moment of infidelity madness that she lives to rue.
When some time later Sally sees Mark Bretherick being interviewed on the television about the death of his wife and daughter, she is stunned. The facts are exactly as Mark had told her, wife Geraldine, daughter Lucy, the circumstances of the deaths gruesome, but this is not the Mark Bretherick she recognises...
And of course there will be Sophie Hannah's new Agatha Christie 'Poirot' book to come.
On the subject of audio books I have been lured back to Audible.com for maybe the fourth time (I've lost count) with an offer of six months membership for £3.99 a month, and have made a start with The Light Years, the first of the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Tributes have been pouring in following her death at the age of ninety last week, so what a timely coincidence it is that many of us are revisiting her books once more.