“Her” by Harriet Lane – Book Review

Emma – a mother of two very young children. She is constantly exhausted, more than a bit envious of her husband who still works in television, and the couple are struggling financially. Emma gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mother.

Nina – is elegant and seems to have it ‘all together’. Married twice, she is an artist and lives in an affluent area of London. Her only apparent weakness is her volatile and precarious relationship with her seventeen year old daughter, Sophie.

Nina though… she seems to have an ‘agenda’ when it comes to Emma. She is almost ‘stalker-ish’. She steals Emma’s wallet and then pretends to have ‘found’ it to engineer a meeting. She manipulates her newfound relationship with Emma in soul destroying ways… Little things, not harmful as such, but mean, nasty, and insidious.

Emma works hard to host a dinner party where she can introduce Nina to her friends. Nina finds a devious way to ensure that it is not a success…

Nina seems to remember Emma from the past, yet Emma has no memory of Nina.  What could have happened back then to make Nina act the way she is?

The entire time reading “Her” the reader wonders What could Nina possibly want with Emma? What is she up to? These queries cause avid page turning.

With rich characterization, the novel is a somewhat ‘slow burn’. As it evolves, the questions about Nina’s motives are magnified.

Parenthood is examined in a philosophical way, illuminating both the highs and the lows, the frustrations and the soul-destroying magnitude of the responsibility. The all-encompassing love.

I’m of mixed feelings about this novel. On the one hand it was well written and rich in character. On the other hand, although the plot was compelling and promised to be rewarding, it seemed to lack something. The reasons for Nina’s obsession with Emma seemed weak to me. The whole premise seemed to be based on insubstantial events that were magnified in Nina’s mind. The ending contained a heart-stopping plot twist that was both a surprise, yet then not…

All in all, I can recommend this novel with some reservations. It was memorable, yet lacked significant motives so that it weakened the plot in my opinion.

I chose to read this novel for several reasons. 1.) It was highly recommended to me by a personal friend. 2.) It has been on my TBR for a long time. 3.) It was the lowest rated novel on my TBR and I was curious to see if I would agree with the majority 4.) It fulfills the third criteria for the “What’s in a name?” reading challenge by having a title of four letters or less.

Her” is published by Little, Brown, and Co.  ISBN: 9780316369893   Pages: 272


Harriet Lane has worked as an editor and writer at Tatler and the Observer. She has also written for the Guardian, the Telegraph and Vogue. Her debut novel, Alys, Always, was published in 2012. She lives in north London with her husband and two children.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Psychological thrillers, What's In A Name Reading Challenge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “Her” by Harriet Lane – Book Review

  1. gayebooklady says:

    Lynne, I don’t feel the point is whether we feel Nina had adequate reason for her behavior toward Emma but how Nina had been “hurt” (dare I say damaged) by what most of us would consider a trivial situation, long in the past! So irrelevant to Emma, she has no memory of it or Nina. So, while life in general has been very good to Nina, she has been carrying deep within herself this hurt. When Nina spots Emma at the market, this past hurt is reignited……more so probably as Emma doesn’t seem to recall her. Obviously, what to most of us, would be long forgotten, has given Nina a game to play against Emma and how far she has to go to permanently damage Emma. Of course, Nina should have seen a psychiatrist long ago…lol! Unfortunately many murders are carried out for very trivial reasons…sad but true!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt much the same as you – I thought it was really well-written and suspenseful and I liked the ambiguity of the ending, but it felt like it was building to something completely different.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gayebooklady says:

    Lynne, I feel I must be the friend who recommended “Her”!! I have read this title several times and even now when I walk by it on its shelf I think I must read it again soon. It was everything I wanted in this story…..I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough. However, we can’t love all the same books, would be very boring. Hopefully, my next recommendation will be more of a success!

    Liked by 1 person

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