Book Review: Her by Harriet Lane

Although they live just a few blocks away from each other in suburban London and are roughly the same age, Emma and Nina seem to have very little in common. Emma is a harried mother to two young children, struggling to make ends meet with her husband. Nina is a sophisticated, highly regarded painter with a teenage daughter and an older husband. The two women strike up a friendship that is surprising to Emma: Nina exudes effortless control while Emma is barely holding it together. It’s obvious why Emma would want to befriend Nina, but what does Nina get out of their friendship?

As Nina inserts herself more and more into Emma’s life, discretely pulling the puppet strings, it becomes apparent that her pursuit of a relationship with Emma isn’t as innocent as it seems. As the novel progresses, alternating between the perspectives of both women,  Nina’s secret motivations come gradually to light.

Her was pitched to me at BEA as the next Gone Girl, but it’s a pretty week comparison. Her is vaguely thriller-ish, has alternating viewpoints, and it makes interesting observations about the roles of women, but the comparison stops there. The “twist” in Her — the full truth behind Nina’s friendship with Emma — doesn’t come until the last few pages, and it fails pack the punch I was hoping for. I didn’t think Nina’s motivation was entirely believable, and it fell kind of flat for me. Additionally, I found the alternating narratives, which described the same incidents from both points of view, to be a little repetitive.

I enjoyed most of this book — it’s well written, and I liked the way it deals with the stresses of motherhood and outward appearance vs. reality — but I found the ending to be disappointing.

Disclosure: If you make a purchase through the link above, I will make a tiny commission.

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Her by Harriet Lane

  1. Hooray – I get to cross something off my TBR list for a change! And – I feel like whenever something is billed as “the next Gone Girl”, it never lives up (The Silent Wife?!!). I’ve been hearing it about The Girl on the Train, which I am excited to read, but am trying not to read too much about the hype bc I don’t want to be disappointed.

  2. It sounds like it could have been good. It’s disappointing when the book sets you up for a big reveal, and then it turns out to be kind of puny. I’m glad it wasn’t all a waste, though!

  3. Reading your review, I get the feeling we got the same feeling: it shows that every story has as many viewpoints as people, but… I found it a little bit repetitive and tiring. However, I think Lane’s idea was terrific because don’t we all create fiction about each other on a daily basis? And now, with social media, what about the fiction we create about ourselves, willingly?

    • Haha oh my goodness, I wish that were the case. I have apparently misunderstood that phrase my entire life. I thought it was about being able to buy meat… to feed yourself. Thank you for correcting me! You have saved me so much future embarrassment. Hah!

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