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'HER' By Harriet Lane - the book of the summer IMO

(80 Posts)
EduardoBarcelona Mon 26-May-14 11:53:38

If you enjoyed 'Alys, always' - or even if you didn't ( that pleasure awaits you) I can heartily recommend HER.

Written by an early Mumsnetter ( don't think she is on any more) this is the kind of book that you HAVE to read in a day.

You can read much better precis of the plot than I ever could write here on amazon and I would recommend this to you as a PREORDER , especially if you love a dual narrative, in the style of Gone Girl.

This, however, is FAR superior writing, you will be itching to highlight bits on your kindle.
It speaks to all of us who have ever wrangled children in fact I was late to work after spending an hour in the bath trying to get to the end. (Bad hair day ensued)

I did chuckle afterwards that you can imagine the whole book as a long AIBU, from two people's viewpoints... just BRILLIANT.

hackmum Fri 20-Jun-14 09:21:37

Just realised that Thirteen Horses said the same as me about Nina!

Suzannewithaplan Sat 21-Jun-14 20:44:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Capitola Wed 23-Jul-14 16:10:48

I have just read it, in one sitting as OP suggested.

Hmmm. Not sure.

It read like a MNer had written it, for sure.

I liked it, but it ended up a book about nothing. Maybe that's what makes it good. I am undecided. I liked the writing style.

Am now reading Alys, always.

YankNCock Thu 24-Jul-14 09:09:46

I won a copy in the MN giveaway, got through about 2/3 last night. Interesting, intriguing, yes, but not so much that I could keep my eyes open past eleven - and I'm definitely the type that will read till 2am on a school night if I'm really into a book.

Initial impressions, I do agree it has a MN tone, though I can't decide if I would have picked up on this if I hadn't read some of the comments on this thread. Unfortunately that had the effect of making me think 'there's one for AIBU' at least once it nearly every 'Emma' section so far!

At this point, I do wonder how Emma hasn't clicked that she's met Nina (and Nina's mother?) before. Is it really possible to forget someone so completely? I keep waiting for Emma to say 'you seem familiar somehow', but so far the only glimmer of recognition centres around salad tossing techniques.

YankNCock Thu 24-Jul-14 23:40:58

Finished it now. Um....I don't know how I feel about it, didn't expect it to end where it did, feels very unresolved, but I suppose life can be like that....however I'm not sure a psycho taking revenge for a perceived wrong really fits with Emma's side of the story and all her issues with the drudgery of daily life with small children.

I don't feel like I can get inside Nina's head enough to see it from her point of view. From the descriptions we eventually get of her past, it seems she had been manipulating people well before Emma's 'wrong'. How has she gotten as far in life as she has without someone detecting that she's a bit bonkers?

chinamoon Thu 24-Jul-14 23:48:31

I read both AA and Her close together. Absolutely love her writing style but thought Her plot was just ridiculous and massively under developed. AA far better in that respect but still pretty slight.

Capitola Fri 25-Jul-14 00:21:52

I feel pretty similar YankNCock.

Would Nina have been so consumed by such a triviality? Or is that the intriguing part - that it was such a non event?

Southeastdweller Fri 25-Jul-14 14:42:00

The Nina character wasn't fleshed out enough so we didn't get enough indication about why she did what she did at the end, thus the impact was for me diminished. I thought the author put a disproportionate amount of effort into Emma and her life - how many more times did we need to be told that she found her life as a SAHM not terribly fulfilling?

And how the hell can we believe that Emma didn't recognise Nina, not once in the book? Really? hmm

YankNCock Fri 25-Jul-14 20:42:30

I know there were some people saying they didn't understand how you could invite some random person in for tea just because they found your purse. That part I didn't really have a problem with. When I first moved to London I was picking up 'stray people' all the time through sheer midwestern friendliness. One of my best friends is someone I met in a park because she asked if her son could pet my dog. Sometimes friends just happen like that, circumstance brings you together and you just click as though you've known each other for years. I didn't get that sense with these characters though, it just seemed too forced.

With the reveal at the end of what Emma actually did, I think I can believe she didn't recognise Nina. It has to be at least 20 years in between, they weren't actually friends, just briefly acquainted. There are definitely people that I had short interactions with that I've completely forgotten. I even forgot a guy I dated for about a month, never would have thought of him again had he not found me on facebook.

At the end, do we think Nina has deliberately done what is suggested, or is it an accident (possibly brought on by subconscious desire to do something rotten, even though she's already done some rotten things)?

I can't understand how she justifies any of it, she says Emma has to be punished for 'her part', but it seems like even Nina acknowledges that Emma didn't do anything other than being 'beautiful' and 'careless'. How would that inspire Nina to do all the psycho stuff she does? How does Nina justify herself? And how has she kept the crazy bottled up for so long?

TheFirstOfHerName Fri 25-Jul-14 20:53:20

And how has she kept the crazy bottled up for so long?

I agree. If Nina is mentally unwell (or personality disordered) enough to behave as she does, then how has she managed to function so well for so long?

Are we supposed to believe that seeing Emma suddenly triggered this behaviour? I find that too far-fetched.

Southeastdweller Tue 29-Jul-14 19:01:51

Yank in the middle of the book, Emma sees a painting that Nina did of the place where they both lived, though Nina didn't live there for long. Towards the end, when they're all in France, they talk about Nina's fairly famous father, the fact that Nina lived on the south coast, and before then Emma knows Nina's father name. And yet Harriet Lane asks us to believe that even after at least 20 years, Emma can't put two and two together.

Also, Nina has deliberately done what she did because Emma says she blocked Emma when they were both running to find the little boy.

hackmum Tue 29-Jul-14 20:55:57

"How would that inspire Nina to do all the psycho stuff she does?"

I guess the clue is in the word "psycho". I quite admired that bit of the book - you go through wondering what on earth the terrible thing was that Emma must have done and then realise she's just done nothing and that in fact Nina is completely deranged. However, I think you're right to ask, "And how has she kept the crazy bottled up for so long?" Because actually she seems to be passing for a normal human being and no-one else has noticed that she's disturbed. I don't know how likely that is.

Anilec Tue 29-Jul-14 23:10:15

I absolutely loved the book right up until the ridiculous reason why Nina was acting the way she was. Completely and utterly implausible and as for the ending, give me strength... how did any editor let that pass?

Having said that I should have been warned off by Alys Always in which the extent of the protagonist's criminality is that she... steals a scarf.

YankNCock Wed 30-Jul-14 17:58:48

southeastdweller, I read that part about Nina blocking Emma as just how Emma perceived it, not as though it actually happened - like they were both running and Nina was in front, and Emma was panicking so everything seemed to be happening slowly like in a nightmare, like she couldn't get there quick enough, IYSWIM?

I think I read that part as perhaps Nina had been thinking about how to get revenge, came up with something awful, didn't intend to actually do it, but subconsciously or whatever left the gate open, and then was running because she knew what she'd done and that she'd gone way too far. Wishful thinking I suppose?

hackmum, I thought it was somewhat obvious by about midway through that whatever Emma had done, it was trivial. There's nothing to suggest Emma was a mean/nasty person who'd reformed in adulthood. I kind of thought it would be a comment Emma had made that Nina overheard, something a teenager would say that wasn't particularly awful, but a fragile person might react badly to. But as it happens, Emma didn't DO anything at all --Nina's the one who forced their interaction by stealing Emma's dog and then pretending to find it!

Nina says at one point she considered telling her husband about seeing Emma again, but she doesn't because IIRC she doesn't think he'd understand. Does that show some awareness of how deranged she is?

MrsDavidBowie Wed 30-Jul-14 18:08:03

Very disappointed by ending.
Too abrupt.

Southeastdweller Wed 30-Jul-14 19:08:45

Yank I know that was from Emma's perspective but we don't get to read Nina's view about it as I recall so I tend to think that the actions in Emma's last segment was what actually happened.

halfwildlingwoman Wed 06-Aug-14 08:23:11

I won a copy in this month's giveaway. Is this where I post a review? Or is there an official MN thread?

DuchessofMalfi Wed 06-Aug-14 16:23:35

I posted my review on the thread under Book Giveaways.

AvonCallingBarksdale Fri 29-Aug-14 17:56:54

I really enjoyed this one, although would have liked to know what happened at the end (don't like to be kept hanging wink ). Am intending to read Alys Always now.

DuchessofMalfi Thu 04-Sep-14 18:47:05

I've just re-read it this week and still can't quite get this book out of my head. I hardly ever re-read books, and yet there's something about this one that I just can't quite let go of. I may even read it again.

That ending still puzzles me. I keep going from thinking that it was Nina's fault, to thinking that it was a genuine mistake and that she hadn't intended that. All the way along there's been little things she's done to upset the equilibrium, things to unsettle Emma and make her think she's a bad mother but this takes things to a whole new level and I'm not convinced it was wholly intentional. I'm not even sure whether they were too late - we can make up our own minds on that.

I hadn't picked up on the fact that Emma, right at the end, is beginning to recall events - just little things about that summer all those years ago when she met Nina and it's only a matter of time before she connects them all together and remembers.

I think it is entirely reasonable for Emma not to have remembered Nina when they first met - they only met briefly as teenagers one summer and weren't friends. I'm not sure I'd remember someone I met briefly at 17 and then met later in life. She has, after all, changed a lot since then. The things Nina does - like bringing out the bracelet and giving it to Sophie to wear - are almost like she's subconsciously willing Emma to remember her.

Still intrigued ....

Twotallladies Thu 04-Sep-14 19:11:20

Well, this thread is already full of spoilers, so here goes. I thought, perhaps, that Nina maybe used blue bunny to tempt the boy into the pool?

DuchessofMalfi Thu 04-Sep-14 19:57:00

Hadn't she already got rid of it the night before? Or did you mean that she "told" him she had found it? Do you think they were in time or not?

It's really hard to talk about a book on here and avoid spoilers. On Goodreads you can hide spoilers, which makes things a lot easier smile Wish there was some way to do something similar on here.

Twotallladies Thu 04-Sep-14 21:10:32

I kind of thought she got the ultimate revenge, if you know what I mean.

Now reading Alys, Always. I like the writer's style, but you do have to suspend disbelief at times.

Southeastdweller Thu 04-Sep-14 22:16:00

But near the end, they're in France and they're talking about Nina's father and mention he's famous and Emma at that point still doesn't put two and two together - really? hmm

DuchessofMalfi Fri 05-Sep-14 04:28:56

I wondered whether Emma didn't know he was famous - didn't Nina say that his career only really took off after he and her mother split up?

And perhaps Emma knew very little about Nina and her family - possibly her parents didn't know who Nina's father was and so had told her nothing. Just trying think of good reasons for her lack of memory grin

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