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Little Face [Paperback]

Sophie Hannah
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 24 2006 Culver Valley Crime
She's only been gone two hours. Her husband David was meant to be looking after their two-week-old daughter. But when Alice Fancourt walks into the nursery, her terrifying ordeal begins, for Alice insists the baby in the cot is a stranger she's never seen before. With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it's too late?

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

British author Hannah (Hurting Distance) weaves together two narrative voices to create this complex and occasionally forced thriller set in rural England. Excitable new mother Alice Fancourt calls the police, claiming her baby girl has been replaced by a nearly identical infant. Alice believes her husband, David, is responsible, but it soon appears that David's mother, the rich and formidable Vivienne, is up to no good. Det. Simon Waterhouse has a soft spot for the possibly delusional Alice, with whom he alternates narration, but his undeveloped character renders their relationship, or lack thereof, of little interest. More engrossing is Waterhouse's complicated friendship with his boss, Sgt. Charlie Zailer, a feisty, appealing woman with a major crush on her subordinate. When Alice and the baby disappear and the police reopen the murder investigation of David's first wife, some interesting discoveries are made, but readers enticed by the intriguing opening will find the payoff ultimately unsatisfying. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Alice Fancourt knows the baby in her nursery is not her daughter, Florence, but everyone else is not so sure. Her husband thinks she is crazy; her domineering mother-in-law is reserving judgment but treating her like an infant herself; and the cops, for the most part, do not believe her. This psychological mystery exposes itself slowly. Careful readers are given the clues to Alice's dilemma and the motivations of the characters, but it is easy to engage fully in the drama, be surprised by the occasional twist, and close the book completely satisfied. The suspense is more atmospheric than overt, and the mystery is in the tension of the relationships. Alice is a flawed character who presents herself almost as a child. Simon, the one detective who believes her, has his own torments to which teens can relate. A solid addition to mystery collections.–Mary Ann Harlan, Arcata High School, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Sept. 2 2007
By I LOVE BOOKS TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The ingredients for a good psychological thriller are all there: Alice, the mother who's convinced that her newborn baby daughter Florence has been switched with another baby in her own home of all places. David, her husband, who's convinced that his wife has gone mad with post-natal depression and refuses to even acknowledge Alice's doubts. Vivienne, David's mother, perfect organizer of his and Alice's lives, after the tragic murder of David's first wife, Laura, whom he had divorced some time before. Felix, David's and Laura's child, is now living with them all at The Elms, Vivienne's huge and stately home.

The alleged kidnapping/switch takes place at The Elms and the police get involved. This starts off a series of considerations for all involved, including the two police detectives assigned to this peculiar case, Simon and Charlie. Psychological twists & turns ensue, which also lead to the reopening of Laura's murder case, despite the confession of her killer, now serving a sentence. A gripping start.

Why the 2 starts then? I admit I was hooked from the very beginng of this book, which is written in two "voices": Alice's, self-describing her actions and anguish, whereas the rest of the characters and circumstances are reported as seen from the outside.

Up to a certain point, I would have given this book 4 stars. What disappointed me was that, upon approaching the end, I realised that the facts had not been fairly and truthfully presented from the beginning. True, one could still guess and make assumptions -after all, isn't that the... thrill of thrillers?- but in my opinion this book was deceiving for the way it started and ended. I could tell you in more detail what I refer to specifically, but that would give the story away. If you buy it, you'll find out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and Powerful Feb. 27 2007
Format:Paperback
LITTLE FACE is written in beautifully constructed words that are clear and precise word, and evoke feelings and emotionas that are easy to understandi.I enjoyed every page of the book. The story is a comprehensive revelation on the swings of life and the approach to handing those turns. The lesson here is enormous and I am glad I read this book. I also read Usurper and Other Stories,Love in the Present tense: LITTLE FACE rightly deserves 5 stars it has been receiving from reviewers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly perfect! Feb. 24 2009
By Yolanda S. Bean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This was an interesting book - in all facets, really - a neat structure, fascinating premise, surprising twists and turns to the plot... the only thing really lacking were the characters. Not anything terribly specific, but... I guess they seemed more like characters from a film than from a book. They were a bit two-dimensional, which is odd considering the book is labeled as "psychological thriller." Some actions were rather unbelievable. I do think it would make a good movie, though - perhaps even better than the book. There was just something film-like about reading the book. Maybe because some actors jumped to mind as being perfect to play parts (e.g., Judi Dench as Vivienne). It was a solid story and quite entertaining and if only the characters had that certain je ne sais quoi, I would have truly loved it.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing But Involving Read Sept. 30 2008
By Jackie Blem - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you like crime drama and psychological suspsense, don't miss this book. This is a magical onion kind of book--the surface is nothing like the center and there are hundreds of layers making it up. The complexity of the plot will take awhile to hit you, but when it does, you won't be able to put the book down. I literally finished the last 20 pages walking around my apartment because I was too exhausted to stay awake if I sat down but I HAD to see how things wrapped up. The premise: new mother Alice Fancourt leaves her two week old daughter for the first time for a quick outing, only to discover, when she gets home, that the baby in the crib is not hers. But she can't convince anyone else of that. Very British, very dark, very much full of surprises and very very much recommended by me!
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Sept. 20 2007
By I LOVE BOOKS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The ingredients for a good psychological thriller are all there: Alice, the mother who's convinced that her newborn baby daughter Florence has been switched with another baby in her own home of all places. David, her husband, who's convinced his wife has gone mad with post-natal depression and refuses to even acknowledge Alice's doubts. Vivienne, David's mother, perfect organizer of his and Alice's lives, after the tragic murder of David's first wife, Laura, whom he had divorced some time before. Felix, David's and Laura's child, is now living with them all at The Elms, Vivienne's huge and stately home.
The alleged kidnapping/switch takes place at The Elms and the police get involved. This starts off a series of considerations for all involved, including the two police detectives assigned to this peculiar case, Simon and Charlie. Psycological twists & turns ensue, which also lead to the reopening of Laura's murder case, despite the confession of her killer, now serving a sentence. A gripping start.

Why the 2 stars then? I admit I was hooked from the very beginning of this book, which is written in two "voices": Alice's, self-describing her actions and anguish, whereas the rest of the characters and circumstances are reported as seen from the outside.

Up to a certain point, I would have given this book 4 stars. What disappointed me was that, upon approaching the end, I realised that the facts had not been fairly and truthfully presented from the beginning. True, one could still guess and make assumptions -after all, isn't that the... thrill of thrillers?- but in my opinion this book was deceiving for the way it started and ended. I could tell you in more detail what I refer to specifically, but that would give the story away. If you buy it, you'll find out.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying... Oct. 5 2010
By Ashley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Admittedly, I flew through the first part of the book. I couldn't wait to figure out "whodunnit." Combine that with a very slow beginning and I was really anxious to get through the novel. Unfortunately, the ending is highly unsatisfying. SPOILERS I don't necessarily have anything against novels in which the narrator is unreliable. But this one was just too much for me. Completely unsatisfying ending. Someone mentioned that they skipped to the end to find out the "surprise ending" and then read the book through. That would probably be a more entertaining way to read the book, because then you'd more clearly see all the ways the narrator is unreliable and all the things she says that don't make sense if you don't know the ending. That and the so called "relationship" between Simon and Alice was quickly wrapped up in the end in an irksome, rushed, unfulfilling and unrealistic way.

I also don't like the literary device Hannah uses here-- a chapter or so of police procedural, and then a chapter or so of what happened with the victim. The two types of chapters don't start off at the same time period as each other, and then slowly they end up working their way to being on the same day/time. Reading the chapters this way can get confusing and annoying-- you don't even figure out the actual crime until you've read about five chapters in. It's hard to keep track of what happened before what and to remember what happened two chapters before.

And finally, a minor nitpick here-- lines like "Will our friendship be taken further?" (on the last page of the book) drive me crazy-- who talks like that in real life? Especially when Alice and Simon barely had a friendship to begin with?

In summary, while the book certainly makes you anticipate a surprise ending, it doesn't actually deliver, leaving the reader unsatisfied and, honestly, feeling like the time spent reading it could've been better spent. A mystery novel with some aspects of this book (suspense, unreliable storytelling) that's way better, check out The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It's a bit more of a "lit" book, but one of my favorites. I will probably read Hannah again, as I've heard good things about some of her other books.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not all there July 15 2011
By StacyMom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, while it definitely sucked me in right away, was unrealistic and improbable. It was just an odd book. I really didn't like it that the reader is told lies throughout and there is no way to know the truth until the end (no clues like a good mystery). Also, the main character supposedly had a c-section -- there is absolutely no way that she would be able to move like she did in the book two weeks after giving birth. A disappointing read that I would not recommend.
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