Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2015
“Two women; two different worlds.
Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold.
Nina is sophisticated and independent – entirely in control.
When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did . . .
But what exactly does Nina want from her?
And how far will she go in pursuit of it?”
Although I bought Her at a recent book sale, I first saw it advertised on the tube on my way to work. I was instantly attracted to the intriguing tagline: “You don’t remember her, but she remembers you.”
It is pegged as a thriller – my current favourite genre, so when I saw it at the sale, I picked it up immediately and bought it without even reading the blurb; rebellious, I know!
The design of the book is awesome, but sadly, the ‘highlighter yellow” doesn’t photograph well. I did my best though…
The tagline is metallic, hence you can’t see it very well in the photo, but it looks great in real-life. The inside cover is as cool as the outside, with reversed out quotes on the left and the publisher logo printed on the right.
The book is written in stunning first-person present, which results in a fast-paced, immediate and wholly absorbing narrative. Set in modern London, the novel focuses on ‘frenemies’ Nina and Emma, two middle-class women whose lives are soon entwined no thanks to Nina and her relentless lust for revenge. Lane’s writing evokes perfectly the bourgeois lifestyle, complete with snobbery, and the often-destructive need to keep up appearances.
The novel is narrated by both Nina and Emma, in alternate chapters. Often, Emma will narrate a scene, and immediately after Nina will narrate the same scene, but from her P.O.V. One would be wrong to assume that this re-telling gets repetitive and boring; quite the opposite is true. It is interesting to see the contrast between how the two girls feel toward one another and how they feel about certain events. It also offered a chilling insight into Nina’s mind. By structuring the novel this way, Lane manages to portray Emma’s ignorance toward Nina’s true motives, resulting in steadily rising tension, as she is dragged further and further into Nina’s web of deception.
Although Lane’s style is quite wordy, the words are well chosen, and the description is vivid. She manages to evoke perfectly, not just setting and character, but also the superficial, poisonous society in which the women live. When I first began reading the book, in one of the earlier chapters, Emma lists off lots of (rather fancy sounding) names. At first, this annoyed me – I was never going to be able to remember all of these names, let alone keep up with what was going on in these character’s lives. BUT I soon realised that Lane had cleverly used this to further emphasise Emma’s hectic, and often shallow lifestyle. Very clever!
Lane does an amazing job at creating tension throughout – often, I couldn’t put the book down as I was desperate to find out the awful thing that Emma had done. The one (very tiny) criticism I had when I initially finished the book is that this ‘awful’ thing, the one that had inspired Nina’s eventual retribution, seemed very minor, and not very awful at all. I didn’t understand why Nina hated her so much, and I definitely didn’t think it warranted Nina’s horrific final act of revenge. Despite this, the more I think about it, the more I realise that maybe Nina wasn’t as mentally stable as I first believed. Perhaps Emma’s actions had affected her more than I initially thought. This is the only way I can justify her overreaction to Emma’s wrongdoing.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Her. I loved Lane’s writing style, the book was fast-paced, absorbing and un-put-down–able. I would very much recommend this novel and look forward to reading more of Harriet Lane’s work!
Has anyone else read this book? Let me know what you think!