Newest Review: ... her baby, has been abducted and replaced by another baby, she keeps onto her husband, David Fancourt and also her mother in law, Viv... more
Confused Little Faces.
Little Face - Sophie Hannah
Member Name: burtybookworm
Little Face - Sophie Hannah
Advantages: The ability to keep the truth from the reader to almost the end
Disadvantages: I thought it was boring for the most part, as well as disappointing!
Two weeks after the birth of her daughter Florence, Alice Fancourt returns from a short trip out into her worst nightmare. Whilst her husband has been sleeping, her baby has been swapped and the baby in the cot is not her daughter.
Alice is confronted with increasing hostility from her husband who insists the baby is in fact Florence whilst the police are convinced she is either crazy or lying. How can Alice convince everyone that the baby in her home isn't hers before it is too late?
I randomly picked this book from someone's RISI list when they requested one of my books because Initially I thought the premise of this story was very interesting indeed. I did question the tag line of "It's every mother's nightmare..." however, because, although I'm not a mother, I think the prospect of someone entering your home and swapping new born babies over is not something that would initially cross your mind as a plausible scenario.
Therein lies Alice's problem - no one believes that someone would really enter a house to swap over a baby - abduct the baby yes, but to actually swap them over? No. This story is told from several points of views, Alice's, Simon who is the policeman who is investigating the case, and very occasionally, Charlie who is Simon's boss. The story begins with Alice's point of view and by starting with her point of view, I felt that I was immediately on "her side" as it were - the way in which the whole swap was explained seemed genuine to me and I felt frustration at the other characters for not believing her.
However, my enjoyment of a swift and pacy story was soon put to a stop completely as the story started to go backwards and forwards in time as well as alternating the characters points of views. It wasn't exactly the alternating of opinions that bothered me, but the mixture of time jumping as well as lots of long winded, and in my opinion, unnecessary depth into each of the characters thoughts, feelings and relationships towards each other. For the first couple of chapters, I read intently about Alice's depression after her parents death, the vice like grip that her mother-in-law Vivienne had on the family and how Alice's husband no longer confided in her. Likewise, I read about how Detective Simon Waterhouse had a difficult working relationship with his boss Charlie because of a fumble a year earlier, how he was extremely good at his job and how he had a "thing" for Alice. All of these stories SHOULD have made for entertaining reading - I realise that all of this careful attention to the characters emotions are supposed to lead the reader into accusing or sympathising with each of the characters as they get caught up in the missing baby story. For me, I didn't think this was done successfully . I felt like I was wading through mud - the switching around of times, places and people as well as their stories felt clumsy slow and, quite frankly, uninteresting.
As a result, I went from sympathising with Alice's increasingly frantic and erratic behaviour to frustration at how she seemed to not be helping her situation with a horrible husband like David. Equally, my feelings towards Detective Simon Waterhouse changed once I got into the story, he firstly appeared to be a nice likeable guy, but soon I also found him irritating and spineless. There were two characters of interest for me, David, Alice's despicable husband, and Charlie, Simon's boss. David's weird behaviour through the book ensures that the reader is kept guessing as to his role in any dramas that occur. Equally, I was shocked, appalled and disgusted with the way in which he treated Alice towards the latter half of the book. His personality changes were a source of intrigue for me throughout, and I was disappointed that his character wasn't explored further. The same for Charlie, unlike David, she was a likeable character, and for the first half of the book she also is an intriguing character, loud, rude and crude but utterly likeable. I was pleased that the author decided to include her opinions during the end part of the book and I would have liked to have seen more of her; she was an interesting character and for once I felt that the development of her feelings towards Simon through "her chapters" was actually interesting reading compared to the others. It was just a shame that both David and Charlie didn't have a large role or more of a development as the characters of Alice and Simon (for most of the story at least, my opinions of Alice at least changed towards the conclusion of the book) were like wet, uninteresting fish!
So, if all this was so bad, why did continue reading? It's simple. By the time I had worked out that I hated the author, Sophie Hannah's writing style and the way in which she probed incessantly at certain characters who were quite boring in the first place, I was still interested in the mystery of the swapped babies. Credit where credits due, the way in which the actual bare bones of the story is developed is expertly done. I found myself in the end skipping the large sections where the characters are just rambling on about their thoughts and feelings and trying to find where the story of the babies (and other developments, which I won't spoil) took off. Once I found these, I was just as baffled as to who was lying, what had happened and what the truth was and so for that, the story kept me engrossed.
Another plus for me about this book was the horrific portrayal of Alice's home life with David and his mother Vivienne. Their wickedness crept up on my quite slowly and, as I have already mentioned, I was literally outraged at their treatment of her - especially by her husband. I found the way in which this type of abuse was portrayed was extremely clever and well done as it did evoke all sorts of emotions in me - I found it all very plausible indeed.
Overall, I found this a difficult book to get through and it was far from a relaxing and enjoyable read for me. My motivation for getting through the book was to find out the truth behind all the mysteries in the characters stories, but in the end this didn't save it from being disappointing overall. To balance it out, Simon was a weak character for me and Alice appeared weak throughout which made it hard after a while to understand her. The long passages that explain how each character is feeling and what they are thinking about certain people and situations were just tedious and uninteresting and destroyed the natural flow of the story. However, the way in which the story was told and the way in which the reader is kept in the dark as to the truth of the baby swap was cleverly done - I can imagine it is hard to write a story like this and not have the reader know immediately what the outcome is. That is not to say the in the end, the truth wasn't shocking, although it was plausible and I admit to wanting to just glance through it again knowing what I know about all the characters. The thing is, I don't care enough about it to do that!
Summary: Not worth the effort!