Reading Her by Harriet Lane is a bit like going out when it’s raining very, very slightly – you’re aware that it’s wet, but it’s only when you get to the end of the journey that you realise you’re completely drenched.
With Her, I knew there was something sinister going on with the characters, but it was only when I finished the novel that I realised just how bad things had ended up.
Nina spots Emma across the street one day, and immediately recognises her. Accomplished and successful, she draws Emma into her life, and Emma, caught up in the struggles of motherhood, is grateful. Only Emma doesn’t remember Nina, and is unaware that Nina’s motives aren’t exactly altruistic.
Her is an absolutely absorbing read with brilliant characterisation, which really drives the book. In terms of stuff that happens, the plot is pretty thin – this is a book that is definitely about how people create situations rather than one where characters just happen to exist within a plot.
Nina is creepy from the start. Slightly too perfect, from the moment we meet her it’s clear her intentions towards Emma are not good. Emma, on the other hand, is likeable, but quite naive. There are moments when it’s so obvious Nina is behind something that you just want to reach in to the pages, grab Emma and point her to the evidence.
Chapters are told alternatively from Nina and Emma’s points of view, with both recounting their own lives, as well as their encounters with each other. At first, I was a little uncertain about this – did I really want to read about the same things twice? But I soon realised that Lane had crafted two very different characters with different motives, which meant the same incidents could be read completely differently, and each telling would shed a little more light on them.
The big mystery of how Nina and Emma know each other is a good one. I half guessed at their shared past, but the truth was much more sinister, as was the ending. Difficult to talk about without spoiling, all I will say is that what I hope happened at the end and what I think actually happened at the end are two very different things.
A wonderful, clever read, Lane’s Her is a book I would definitely recommend.
•Her is released on June 12.
How I got this book: From the publisher, Weidenfeld and Nicolson. This did not affect my review.