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Little Face Review: A Very Thrilling Book But The Ending Lets It Down
Little Face - Sophie Hannah
Member Name: OWiseYoungOwl
Little Face - Sophie Hannah
Advantages: thrilling, keeps you on your toes, excellent writing, good characters, good plot,
Disadvantages: end a bit sloppy
I recently saw one of Sophie Hannah's books in my local bookshop and read the blurb. It was interested and pulled me in. I did not buy in on that occasion but I did remember the name of the book for future reference. Little Face.
I am not a mother myself but from the excellent writing skills of Sophie Hannah, I fully understood how scary and alarming it must be to come back and find a baby, that isn't yours. Worse still, if your partner does not believe you, more so if people begin to think you are crazy. I loved the way Sophie Hannah put Alice Fancourt, the mother of the newborn baby (Florence), into this situation because not only did she put Alice into an "everyone is out to get me" scenario, she puts the readers into it as well.
When Alice first realizes that Florence, her baby, has been abducted and replaced by another baby, she keeps onto her husband, David Fancourt and also her mother in law, Vivienne Fancourt. It's not long before the reader begins to suspect the two of them, either in it together or just one of them. David Fancourt is actually a horrible, nasty man and although he doesn't physically harm Alice he emotionally tortures and abuses her. For instance he makes her strip in front of him even though they never see each other naked, he makes her wait to go to the toilet even though she is desperate and another time he makes her eat of the floor. The emotional abuse is a theme of the book but not something that pops up every two minutes, it just re-inforces the issue that David Fancourt could very well be the person responsible for the baby swap. In fact as a reader, you want it to be him.
Another issue of the book is David's first wife and mother to his first son, Laura was killed two years ago. As a result David gained full custody of his son, Felix, and they all began to play happy families with Vivienne in her home. These sort of things throughout the story begin to point to either David, Vivienne, a partnership or that Alice is in fact crazy. The last of those is possible, even though as a reader you know there is something in what the writer is telling us. Nevertheless it remains a possibility, particularly with the police.
We get to know three people really well in Little Face, Alice, DS Charlie Zailer and DC Simon Waterhouse, as well as the two suspects. DS Zailer has problems from my point of view - she was rejected by DC Waterhouse and since has held grudges over it. She will not back down and will at any opportunity turn a conversation into something sexual. It makes for great reading trying to establish whether Zailer and Waterhouse actually like each other or whether they just have a professional relationship. Waterhouse becomes fascinated with Alice and is not sure that she is crazy when everyone else thinks she is.
I was literally on the edge of my seat with this book, especially when Alice goes missing with Little Face. The baby that was left instead of Florence has been nicknamed Little Face and it stuck throughout the book. As the end nears some twists and turns happen, ones we were expecting perhaps and ones we were not. I was disappointed with the ending, not least because I was so thrilled by the rest of the book.
I hope Sophie Hannah's follow on books include Zailer, Waterhouse and some more of that superb writing of hers. I am still giving it 4 stars because until the ending it really was excellent.
Summary: Well written, thrilling but ending could have been so much better.