Sophie Hannah: The Orphan Choir

C fiction ought to realise by now that Swallowfield is listed in no earthly post code directory and that that we are indeed at a boundary between the land of the living and somewhere that is not in the same same time zone as any of us presently inhabits And at Swallowfield Lou not only hears the choristers who give the title to this book she will see them and eventually she will learn who they areIn an epilogue Sophie Hannah pays homage to Susan Hill s The Woman in Black and like Hill s work The Orphan Choir exhibits many elements suarely in the tradition of M R James the greatest exponent of the Classic English ghost story We have here the Cambridge College with the chapel choir school and Anglican worshipI ve found most attempts to stretch a M R James story to the length of a full scale novel unsatisfying and even novella length like Andrew Taylor s Broken Voices or Hill s The Woman in Black seems a bit long Although a short novel The Orphan Choir dragged badly for me Sophie Hannah seemed to take forever setting things up And I suspect many readers find Lou s constant whinging extremely irritating For most of this book I wondered if it could earn even two starsMy four star rating probably a trifle generous was earned by the absolutely splendid denouement that totally satisfied me aesthetically emotionally spiritually and may I add theologically and liturgically Lou receives exactly the nunc demittis she s been seeking unwittingly from the beginning when she was already spiritually dead but did not now it I read several women s magazines that said that this was utterly scary and will The Ecology, Exploitation and Conservation of River Turtles keep you up all night It s not and it didn tLouise is unlikeable so self absorbed and conceited that I didn t really care about what happened to herNot for me at all I m just glad I got it on offer and not paid full priceNote to Self and Others don t pay attention to women s magazine book reviews I was so disappointed with this book I was lured into reading it and was very excited to read it because of the blurb I had read in a magazine which said it wouldeep me awake at night with fear Great I thought I read it over four days uickly because I was desperate for it to actually get going It was yawningly boring for a supposed scary ghost story which wasn t really a ghost story at all until right at the end the last few pages Which in themselves were eually disappointing It was a little like reading something a child would write for an essay at school The writing was also far too flippant to be scary and trying to be too clever and hip I actually did not like the style of writing at all I have another of Sophie Hannah s books which was not terribly good either unfortunately I get so cross when I read books like this because I feel as though I have wasted my time I am going to give her another chance I am about to start The Carrier If this one is eually awful I shall not be reading any hey ho A uick well written story with spooky bits but not too spooky for the likes of me who are easily spooked It s my first encounter with Sophie Hannah s writing and I will certainly look out for another of her books in the future This is the first book in years that has physically infuriated me It gets 2 stars only because the protagonist gets what I wanted her to get at the endThis is the story of Louise Beeston contender for most annoying mother of the year who is plagued by a neighbour who plays loud music a few times and therefore naturally sends our hero into fits of absurd hysteria and also has to contend with the pain of having her son away at a choir school and she wants him back One hundred pages in and she seemingly solves this little problem This whole section is boring and pointless and most importantly not scary So as a ghost story this fails beyond anything I ve ever read I was haunted by the sadness and melancholia of works like The Road which did not have ghosts in it at all and this just asserts the piss poor scares this book provides A third of the way in brief ghostly moment Then nothing for another hundred then mildly evocative ghostly moment then wild ending which came from nowhere The main problem and this is the reason I disliked the protagonist She shouts a lot Not just a bit but all the time when she isn t shouting at the council for not locking up her neighbour she s shouting at her husband for not being supportive or she s shouting at her son s tutor for eeping him somehow against her will Then she shouts some and moans and then bizarrely at the end she flips completely and becomes so calm and eerie I think she inhaled a truck load of drugs The narrative that Sophie Hannah utilises is a choice which is very popular at the moment and I fail to see how The problem with a first person present tense is that the writing cannot help but feel sloppy and this is no exception The language is basic which is fine except that the way one though flows to the next reads at times like a stream of consciousness which means we re stuck in the fucking diarrhoea that is the protagonist s bowel of a brain In conclusion not scary stick to psychological thrillers pleas. D why won't they stop Growing desperate she begins to worry about her mental healthAgainst the pleas and growing disuiet of her husband Louise starts to suspect that this sinister choir is not only real but a warning But of what And how can it be when no one else can hear itIn The Orphan Choir Sophie Hannah brings us along on a darkly suspenseful investigation of obsession loss and the malevolent forces that threaten to break apart a loving famil.

Creepy psychological thriller FTWI love Sophie Hannah and while I didn t inhale The Orphan Choir the way I did say Little Face I did stay up half the night reading it I love love love the fact that the protagonist is so unlikable She s unlikable in a very real way several times while I was reading I found myself making faces at the page and thinking how very much I would hate to be married to someone like that It s exhausting to be Louise Beeston She s paranoid and neurotic and narcissistic to the point that she can t imagine how everything could not be about her She eeps herself awake weeping because she s sure her neighbor is plotting against her But here s the other part her neuroses stem from the fact that her seven year old son a singing prodigy has been accepted to a prestigious boarding school I ve got a seven year old son I cannot imagine only getting to see him at performances and on holidays So she s horrible yes but I can sympathize with some of it The horror element of the story builds slowly if you re looking for something that will plunge you into the action this is not the book for you But because Louise is so self involved the reader actually starts feeling the horror before she does which is a lot of fun The bottom line this is a great ghost story and a nice departure from Hannah s other thrillers which are fantastic in their own right Well I am never getting that time back Lately I haven t had much time to read books as voraciously as I used to so I have been extremely particular with what books I allow to occupy my limited time The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah is one of the books I decided to read based on it being described as a woman s ascent into madness with horror elements in it The first part is uite true but the second half of that assessment is very far from the truth The Orphan Choir is narrated by Louise A woman who is driven mad by the insane thumping of her neighbors music at odd hours of the night To make matters worse she s convinced he s doing it intentionally All she wants is a little peace and uiet so she can go back to complaining about the loss of her son Joseph who boards at a prominent school where he s a member of the Saviour Choir Before long Louise hears her sons choir and can t understand why she deserves such tortureIn an effort to get away from her noisy neighbor in Cambridge Louise moves with her husband Stuart to a uiet slice of heaven of England s countryside Ultimately Louise finds that uite possibly the music she s hearing may in fact be in her head Could she be missing her son so much that she can t get the choral music out of her head or is something sinister at playHonestly I was not in love with this novel for a good while It s an easy engrossing read yet the narrator takes some getting used to I could have maybe appreciated this novel had I not gotten in her head Ironic huh Seriously she complains about everything To top off her complaining she whines to no end about how much she misses her son who s away at the boarding school What ultimately saves this novel for me is the ending I was ready to write this one off as just another novel with not much going on but I feel it ends perfectly Sophie Hannah pretty much owed me for wasting so much time and energy on Louise that the ending needed to make up for it big time I liked the ending and yes it does supply that horror feel the blurb suggests My overall thoughts are that The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah was not bad at all I only wish there was a starring character I could actually want to be in the same room with The Orphan Choir is a fast read and may appeal to fans of psychological suspense Overall I would like to read by this author so long as I get a little horror and a lot less Louise Copy Provided by Picador USA via Netgalley I m becoming uite the expert on these Hammer horror novellas first The Greatcoat then The Daylight Gate then The uickening and now this The Orphan Choir is narrated by Louise Beeston the mother of seven year old Joseph who has won a much coveted place in the choir of Saviour College School Unfortunately this privilege reuires him to become a boarding pupil and Louise is both depressed at the amount of time she has to spend separated from her son and fearful that others will think her a bad parent for allowing him to live away from home at such a young age On top of this she has another problem her nuisance neighbour Justin Clay who plays loud annoying music throughout the night When Louise pleads with him to lower the volume and then complains to the council he starts taunting her in inventive ways most notably by playing recordings of a boys choir performing the same songs Joseph has to sing Yet when uestioned by a council worker Justin insists he has never even owned any choral music despite owning up to his other offences So why does Louise eep hearing itI have mentioned before that despite Sophie Hannah s huge commercial success in the UK I don t think she s a particularly good writer It s always seemed so odd to me that she s also a poet because her writing is the furthest thing from lyrical and the. A MOTHER WITH AN EMPTY NEST IS BEING HAUNTED BY A GHOSTLY CHILDREN'S CHOIR ARE THEY GIVING HER AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE THAT ONLY SHE CAN HEAR OR ARE THEIR MOTIVES MORE SINISTER Louise Beeston is being haunted Louise has no reason left to stay in the city She can't see her son Joseph who is away at boarding school where he performs in a prestigious boys' choir Her troublesome neighbor has begun blasting choral music at all hours of the night and to

Main problem with fiction by poets is usually that it s difficult for them to stop their prose from sounding like poetry Unfortunately this book despite initially appearing to be far to my taste than her usual crime fare didn t do anything to alter this negative opinionI wondered for a large portion of The Orphan Choir where it was actually going the funny thing is that much than half of the story is essentially exposition Despite the fact that it s part of the Hammer imprint and is you would assume meant to be a horror story there s no suggestion of anything supernatural until the book is near to its end and it s not even slightly scary The I read the uestions I had and I was disappointed to find that many of them were never answered How can it be possible for Louise and Stuart to own a Victorian townhouse in Cambridge spend 30k on sandblasting it AND afford to BUY a second home in a gated community with bespoke modernist houses and 500 acres of private land unless they re multi millionaires And if they ARE meant to be multi millionaires surely Louise wouldn t feel inferior to the other mothers at her son s school and wouldn t talk about treating herself to a fresh towel costing 1 at the spa Justin s occupation is similarly mysterious he also lives in a townhouse which it s mentioned often is lavishly decorated yet the way he behaves makes it sound like he s a student he doesn t get up until the afternoon sits around getting stoned all day and has raucous parties with a group of misfits As for view spoilerBethan illing Joseph where the bloody hell did that come from Was that one paragraph about Bethan s divorce meant to be enough to set up the fact that she would go on to murder a child hide spoiler I have read most of Sophie Hannah s books and have liked them all but this is the worst book I have ever read This ghost story is built around Anglican ritual specifically choral evensong the sung version of the service of evening prayer according to the traditional Book of Common Prayer as it would be observed in the chapel of a Cambridge college The college here is called Saviour It boasts an excellent choir of sixteen boys who reside at college during term time Our narrator Louise or Lou is the mother of one of the youngest choristers Joseph age sevenIt is obvious from the beginning of The Orphan Choir that Lou is in a severely debilitated spiritual condition Like many whose spirituality is starved of proper nourishment she is focussed on idolatry fixated on worshipping her son and obsessed with his absence from home even though she and her husband live in Cambridge and see Joseph several times a week at services and receptions afterwards She despises Dr Freeman the choir director whom she sees as depriving her of her son by refusing to make an exception to the rule that all choristers reside in college I would expect that so long as his parents reside in Cambridge and provide him with nice stuff that Joseph vastly prefers the company of his mates from the choir to the constant attentions of his mum whose clinginess makes an anaconda seem stand offish by comparisonAlthough she attends services regularly Louise has no sense of the ceremony as a religious experience and is liturgically and scripturally illiterate At one point she wonders at the verse in the Magnificat the rich he hath sent away empty and wonders at what the author meant The author of course was St Luke or the Virgin Mary depending on how you think about it with some assistance from Hannah in 1st Samuel as anyone with a minimal Anglican formation or who had taken my Bible as literature course nowsLouise is also being tormented by her neighbour who gives extremely noisy parties and plays loud pop music late into the night laughing at her complaints After the council authorities fail to silence the neighbour who has the suggestive name Justin Clay try it as three words a local music shop suggests that Lou give him a taste of even worse medicine by loudly playing Capleton s Leave Babylon which works Try a sample on iTunes But the pop music is replaced with choral music that only Lou can really hear and with which Justin appears to have nothing to doLou escapes by buying a house in a gated community called Swallowfield an hour and a half s drive from Cambridge in the Culver Valley a community which makes a fetish of uiet and orderliness where the inhabitants are constantly observed Some literally live in glass houses Even children are not allowed to splash in the poolSome reviewers have uestioned how Lou could have afforded two expensive houses and if Swallowfield lis in the Culver Valley readers of Sophie Hannah s mystery stories expect it would be protected by that sterling law enforcement team the Culver Valley Constabulary under the brilliant leadership of Superintendent Proust and featuring dysfunctional personal relationships Fortunately Sophie Hannah does not mix her genres Instead we meet the Swallowfield sales rep Bethan who lives in a cubical house called Hush Lou s new house is named The Boundary and has a glass frontEven the reader who is tied to the canons of realisti. Ake matters worse she's the only one who can hear itHoping to find some peace Louise convinces her husband Stuart to buy them a country house in an idyllic sun dappled gated community called Swallowfield But it seems that the haunting melodies of the choir have followed her there Could it be that her city neighbor has trailed her to Swallowfield just to play an elaborate malicious prank Is there really a ghostly chorus playing outside her door An.

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Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction published in 27 countries In 2013 her latest novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards Two of Sophie’s crime novels The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensiti