Sophie Hannah (Adult Fiction)
Imagine you leave your newborn at home with your spouse for just a few hours. When you return, the front door is slightly ajar, your spouse has just awakened from a nap, and in your nursery lies a beautiful and perfect baby…only this baby is not yours. Your baby is gone and life suddenly stops. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare only this nightmare is now Alice Fancourt’s reality. Her infant, Florence, has been mysteriously replaced with another baby and no one believes her—not the police, not her mother-in-law, and not even her husband, David. Everyone attributes her hysteria to some kind of postpartum shock or psychosis, but when Alice and Florence disappear without a trace only a week later, suddenly this strange case takes an even stranger and unexpected turn.
Little Face is a provocative thriller that explores and examines the complex lives of two very different mothers: one willing to do anything to keep her family together and the other doing the unimaginable to keep her family safe. It’s a story filled with action and suspense that delves into some rather weighty topics such as depression, sociopathic tendencies, emotional and psychological manipulation, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The action is kept at a heightened pace with chapters alternating between the day of Florence’s disappearance to the next week when both Alice and Florence vanish. Narration switches from first-person (Alice) to third-person so we’re able to both clearly understand what Alice is thinking while also being able to view the effects of her decisions and actions through an impartial lens. While Hannah effectively delivers an intense and absorbing psychological thriller, the only issue I had was with the characterization of her husband David. Hannah chose to make this individual unseemly sadistic and his treatment of his wife, regardless of her credibility or sanity, is nothing less than barbarous and inhumane. We are given a glimpse into his background and gather that his mother is overly controlling and protective of him, but that doesn’t justify his sudden spiral into depravity and the unexplained erosion of his both his humanity and morality. The reader is literally blindsided with this side of him and this character trait appears to have been included for the sheer and sole sake of shock value.
American civil rights activist Rosa Parks once said, “There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take… The line between reason and madness grows thinner.” Little Face demonstrates just how thin this line truly is by showing us what extraordinary measures a person is able and willing to take in order to protect whatever or whoever is most precious to them.
*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com