When motherhood all gets too much?

The Point of Rescue by Sophie Hannah.

Sally and Nick have two young children and they both work hard.  The year before, Sally was feeling the strain of juggling motherhood and her career, all the multi-tasking; she was desperate for a break from it all.  When a business trip fell through, she didn’t tell her husband. Instead she went off anyway to a hotel, looking forward to a week of spas and sleep. 

In the bar, she met a man – a considerate one, a man who seemed to understand her needs, and they had a week long daytime affair. Revived, she returned to work, but life carries on and she still gets stressed …

There’s probably nothing important that I’ve forgotten, but it would be nice to be certain, as I always used to be. Now that I have two small children, my work has an added resonance: every time I talk or write about Venice’s lagoon losing dangerous amounts of the sediment it needs to keep it healthy, I find myself identifying with the damn thing. Two strong currents called Jake and Zoe, aged four and two, are sluicing important things from my brain that I will never be able to retrieve, and replacing them with thoughts about Barbie and Calpol. Perhaps I should write a paper, complete with scientific diagrams, arguing that my mind has silted up and needs dredging, and send it to Nick, who has a talent for forgetting he has a home life while he is at work. He is always advising me to follow his example.

At home the news is full of a gruesome double death – presumed suicide of a mother and daughter.  Their names are familiar – they’re the family of the man she had an affair with – but the man on the TV is not Mark Bretherick!

This is the setup for Sophie Hannah’s third novel, another dark and devilishly ingenious psychological thriller. I’m not going to talk about the main plot any more, it’s complicated and I don’t want to give any spoilers. Suffice to say, it’s complicated and chilling, and mothers and fathers reading it will get little twinges of guilt when they recognise situations within in which they could have been better parents themselves at some time. 

Toiling away in the background are the Spilling constabulary – they are the constant in Hannah’s novels.  Back again are detectives Charlie and Simon, who have a long-running on-off relationship, which is complicated by her being a sergeant and him just a constable.  Although the crime is the star, they provide a satisfying and grounding backdrop to the main event.

I like to read novels with interlinking story arcs in order, and Sophie’s third was the best yet for me, totally unputdownable as usual!  I’m looking forward to great anticipation to her next books now.
(8.5/10) I bought this book.

6 thoughts on “When motherhood all gets too much?

  1. I really like the Sophie Hannah series, and funnily enough my thoughts on the fourth on are on Savidge Reads tomorrow with an author interview the day afterwards. I have found all of them very good, Little Face is still the one that really sicks in my mind though, I think its the idea of a baby not being the baby you know it should be is just so chilling. I have been puzzled and intrigued by the last three but not quite as chilled as I was with the first – a brill series though. Not sure how I feel about the upcoming TV version.

    • We asked Sophie about the TV series, and she’s happy to leave them to it, saying if they can do anywhere near as good a job as ‘Lewis’ (her fave), she’ll be pleased. No hints on casting sadly.

  2. I read Hannah’s first novel earlier this year and liked it but didn’t love it. I thought it was a bit anti-climactic in the end and was a bit frustrated by feeling like some of the pieces didn’t add up entirely. However, I’ve heard only amazing things about this third novel of hers, even from people who felt similarly to myself regarding her debut. I’m definitely looking forward to it!

    • It was all the bad mother bits in this one that got to me and creeped me out. I didn’t enjoy the first one as much as the subsequent two. Hurting Distance was very nasty, this one was chilling, particularly as I’d recently read another novel where a mother murder’s her children which was profoundly affecting.

  3. Pingback: Paranoid housewife? It’s another Sophie Hannah psychocrime novel… « Gaskella

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