THE ORPHAN CHOIR by Sophie Hannah


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British author Hannah’s latest novel explores the psyche of a woman whose life is troubled by a noisy neighbor and the enforced absence of her own small child.

Louise Beeston has been battling her neighbor for ages. The man she calls “Mr. Fahrenheit” likes to crank up the music when his friends visit, and Louise has had it with those interruptions to her sleep. What makes it even worse is that she misses her son Joseph, who is in a prestigious boys choir. Joseph attends an exclusive private school in Cambridge, and as an elite member of the choir, is required to board at the school. That means Louise and her husband, Stuart, only see Joseph at services when the choir performs and during breaks when he is allowed to come home. Adding to Louise’s consternation is the fact that Stuart is insisting they have their Victorian townhome sandblasted in order to clean the brick. To accomplish this means the place will be swathed in plastic for weeks, including the windows. Louise wants to get away from it all and create a paradise for her family, and she thinks she may have found this in an ad for second homes in a gated country community. But there’s a fly in the ointment: She keeps hearing the voices of singing children, a choir like Joseph’s, wherever she is. And it appears no one else can hear the choir but her. Hannah, who specializes in psychological thrillers, places the burden of the storytelling on Louise’s shoulders. In the end, this proves problematic since the character is portrayed as so relentlessly miserable, bad-tempered and unlikable that few who read the book will care what happens to Louise or her family.

A difficult story about a terrible, selfish and deluded woman with a disagreeable personality and a spineless husband.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-250-04102-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Picador
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2013


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