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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Losing You, by Nicci French, Reviewed

In Losing You, Nicci French has woven a tale bursting with emotional impact. The book reads like a personal experience, such is the depth of detail and intensity of feeling in the writing. And, for the reader, this is not so much a read as a personal trip taken with the extraordinary mother on her search for her missing daughter. I will say no more about the plot, as I have no wish to inflict spoilers on potential readers.

In common with many of today’s writers, I have a day job. Because I share the family car with my daughter, I sometimes travel to work by bus. I’m willing to put up with the inconvenience because it’s better for the environment and it gives me time to read. I tell you this only because this particular book made me miss my stop; twice! I was so absorbed by the characters and the tale that I was past my normal disembarkation point before I realised it. It was one of those books that, had I had the practical opportunity, I would’ve read from cover to cover without pause. Unputdownable.

The narrator, Nina, is so well drawn that the first person account propels the reader through the roller-coaster emotional ride with consummate ease. Every other character, no matter how insignificant, is drawn with care and attention, so that each is a believable person; rounded and complete. The story builds slowly at first, with subtle hints pointing at a potential disaster on the far horizon. But, as the various elements of the drama are revealed, the tension builds and builds, making the pages turn with increasing speed as the reader lives through the growing terror with Nina: a woman who sees herself as ordinary but who demonstrates that we all, in the necessary circumstances, have the potential to be extraordinary.

All the barriers placed before the lead character are utterly credible and Nina’s response to them illustrates our mix of frustration with authority and our incomprehension of the need for seemingly pointless protocols when these prevent us acting in ways that seem obvious to us. The urgency of the need for action instead of talk slowly increases as time passes and all the possible outcomes flood Nina’s mind with their horror and dread.

I think you’ll glean from the above that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It carried me with it on the breathless ride, involving me emotionally in every step and misstep along the road to the tortuous conclusion. The denouement is brilliantly written and constructed with such detail that the reader feels the author must have suffered something similar to bring such feelings and actions to the page.

I’ve read only one other novel by Nicci French but I shall be reading more. Just as soon as I’ve completed my self-imposed trawl through the 180 odd titles still on my ‘to read’ list. I have no hesitation in recommending this piece of superb writing to all and sundry.

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