Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife by A.S.A.Harrison
Published by Headline
21st November 2013
Paperback edition

Todd and Jodi have been together for more than twenty years.  They are both aware their world is in crisis, though neither is willing to admit it.

Todd is living a dual existence, while Jodi is living in denial.  But she also likes to settle scores.  When it becomes clear their affluent Chicago lifestyle could disintegrate at any moment, Jodi knows everything is at stake.  It’s only now she will discover just how much she’s truly capable of…
It’s early September.  Jodi Brett is in her kitchen, making dinner.  Thanks to the open plan of the condo, she has an unobstructed view through the living room to its east-facing windows and beyond to a vista of lake and sky, cast by the evening light in a uniform blue.  A thinly drawn line of a darker hue, the horizon, appears very near at hand, almost touchable. She likes this delineating arc, the feeling it gives her of being encircled.  The sense of containment is what she loves most about living here, in her aerie on the twenty-seventh floor.

At forty-five, Jodi still sees herself as a young woman.  She does not have her eye on the future but lives very much in the moment, keeping her focus on the everyday.  She assumes, without having thought about it, that things will go on indefinitely in their imperfect yet entirely acceptable way.  In other words, she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience – which her twenty-year marriage to Todd Gilbert has been slowly eroding – is approaching a final state of disintegration, that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far les stable than she supposes, given that a few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her.

There isn’t much of a surprise to The Silent Wife; we know from the start that the seemingly perfect marriage of Todd and Jodi is on the rocks.  Todd is having an affair, but Jodi is perfectly happy to pretend that everything is just rosy, until Todd reveals he is leaving her.  When her world is suddenly about to be turned upside-down, just how far will one woman go to maintain the life she loves?

If Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was one of the most talked about books of 2012, then A.S.A.Harrison’s similar tome The Silent Wife is set to be the hit of 2013.  This is her first novel, and unfortunately, set to also be her last, given her untimely and unexpected death earlier this year.  Comparisons between the two novels are bound to arise, as they feature a parallel theme - a once-loving couple whose relationship takes a murderous path.  Where The Silent Wife differs in my opinion, is that it has a much better ending than Flynn’s novel.  Read both and compare them to see if you agree, but beware a woman scorned!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Pharaoh by David Gibbins
Published by Headline
26th September 2013
paperback edition

1351 BC
Akhenaten the Sun-Pharaoh presides over Egypt…until the day he casts off his crown and mysteriously disappears into the desert, his legacy seemingly swallowed up by the sands beneath the Great Pyramids of Giza.

AD 1884
A British soldier serving in the Sudan stumbles upon a submerged temple containing drawings of a terrifying god fed by human sacrifice.  The soldier is on a mission to reach General Gordon before Khartoum falls.  But he hides a secret of his own.

Present Day
Jack Howard and his team are excavating an incredible underwater site, but dark forces watch to see what they will find.  Diving into the Nile, they enter a world three thousand years backing history, inhabited by a people who have sworn to guard the greatest secret of all time…

The man carrying the staff of a high priest and the ankh symbol of a pharaoh stood at the entrance to the temple, watching the shaft of light from the setting sun rise up the body of the statue that loomed out of the far wall.  Ahead in the gloom the others stood aside to let him pass forward, sprinkling incense and mouthing incantations as they did so.  They were all present, the priests of this cult and also the priests of the god Amun from Thebes: those who had grown fat on the wealth that was rightfully his, and had doubted his allegiance to the gods.  They had come here, a thousand miles to the south of the pyramids, to the edge of the known world, believing that he had chosen this place to prostrate himself before them, to recant his heresy and purify himself before the gods, to arise once again with the trappings of priesthood that had weighed down his father and generations of pharaohs before that.  He passed them now, men with shaven heads and pious expressions who wore the gold-hemmed robes and upturned sandals that showed wealth, and he felt nothing but contempt.  Soon they would know the truth.

David Gibbins has written seven bestselling novels, and Pharaoh is his eighth.  I love an adventure story, and anything about Egypt, so it seemed that this book would be a win-win choice.  Having not read any of his previous novels, I didn’t know that the main character, Jack Howard, is an archaeological diver, which was an interesting premise.  I don’t know anything about diving so I initially wondered if this book would suit me.  The detail that Gibbins goes into is not so technical to be boring, but explanatory enough that I was immediately interested and could also imagine what it would have been like under the Nile exploring for treasure.

Pharaoh is split into three distinct parts, ancient Egypt, wartime in 1884 and the present day. The section on ancient Egypt immediately captivated me and I avidly turned the pages immersing myself in the reign of Akhenaten.  Now, I’m not a great fan of wartime novels, but have to say that the parts where this was the primary focus were as captivating as the others and I soon found myself reading on to find out what the ending would be once the book concluded in the present day.  Gibbins is sure to have found himself with another bestseller amongst his fans, and I’ll definitely be reading more of his previous work after this.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Orphan Choir

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah
Published by Hammer
10th October 2013
paperback edition

Louise is bereft.  Her seven year old son Joseph has been sent away to boarding school against her wishes, and she misses him desperately. 

And the neighbour from hell is keeping her awake at night by playing loud intrusive music.

So when the chance comes to move to the country, she jumps at it as a way of saving her sanity.

Only it doesn’t.

Because the music seems to have followed her.

Except this time it’s choral music, sung by a choir of children that only she can see and hear…

It’s quarter to midnight.  I’m standing in the rain outside my next-door neighbour’s house, gripping his rusted railings with cold wet hands, staring down through them at the misshapen and perilously narrow stone steps leading to his converted basement, from which noise is blaring.  It’s my least favourite song in the world: Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’.
     There’s a reddish-orange light seeping out into the darkness from the basement’s bay window that looks as unappealing as the too-loud music sounds.  Both make me think of hell: my idea of it.  There are no other lights on anywhere in my neighbour’s four-storey home.
     My lower ground floor next door is dark and silent.  We mainly use it as guest accommodation, and as we don’t often have guests it is usually empty.  It comprises two bedrooms, a playroom-cum-Xbox room for Joseph, and a large bathroom.  All of number 19’s internal cellar walls have been knocked down to make a single, vast area: either a chill-out den or an entertaining space, depending on whether you’re talking to my neighbour or his girlfriend.
     I think the label ‘entertaining space’ worries him because of its public-spirited implications.  The word ‘entertain’ suggests that one might give a toss about other people other than oneself.  My next-door neighbour doesn’t.
    Freddie Mercury’s reflections about supersonic women are making me glad that I’ve never met one: they sound like a bit of a handful – not very easy-going.  I’ve never had ambitions in the direction of supersonicness, whatever it might be.  What I want is far more achievable, I hope: to be warm, dry, asleep.  At the moment, those are the only things I want, the only things I can imagine ever wanting.

All Louise wants is a good night’s sleep.  Unfortunately, her neighbour, nicknamed ‘Mr Farenheit’ by Louise and her husband has other ideas.  He doesn’t want to sleep, he wants to play his music, and loud.  After another night without sleep, after her request to her neighbour to turn his music down goes unheeded, Louise takes things further – she reports him to the council for noise disturbance.  She begins by keeping a diary of the music that is played; only it becomes apparent after time that the sounds she hears aren’t the same of those of her husband. 

After another night of broken sleep, Louise spies an advert in the paper for a new housing development, Swallowfield that promises to be the solution to her problem; for it is an estate where noise is practically forbidden.  Suddenly Louise can only dream of escaping her Victorian city home in Cambridge and moving to the countryside.  It becomes somewhere for her to take her son, Joseph too, once he is on holiday from school.

Seven year old Joseph is a boarder at St Saviours and is part of their choir.  Louise misses him desperately and Swallowfield seems to ideal place for them to spend quality time together.  The only problem is that once they arrive at their second home, after an idyllic start, Louise starts to hear singing again and this time, it seems more sinister.  Whilst I would argue that The Orphan Choir isn’t a horror novel, in my opinion, it is genuinely creepy and builds up to a dramatic climax.  I really enjoyed the story, and thought that both the characters and location were really well developed.  This is definitely worth a read.

Happy reading

Miss Chapter x

Hello and welcome


Thanks for taking the time to come and find me over here.  Some of you may know me already from my other blog Crafting not Cleaning but I wanted to create a new one dedicated to the books that I review.

Here are a few of the titles I'm working my way through at the moment:

I hope you like what you see and read on here.

Please leave a comment on anything you like the look of or have read yourself.  Any recommendations are always appreciated too!

Happy reading!

Miss Chapter x