Friday 28 June 2019

BLOG TOUR: Needlemouse - Jane O'Connor

Time to come out of hibernation...

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it's no wonder she's a little prickly...

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays - and it makes people think she's nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she's been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she's sure he's just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future. 

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

What did I think?

To say Sylvia Penton, the protagonist of Needlemouse, is prickly would be an absolutely massive understatement.  What amazes me is how Jane O'Connor manages to get the reader to open their hearts to Sylvia when in reality if we came within 10 yards of her precious 'Prof' we would get the cold shoulder and the death stare from her.

I really wanted to give Sylvia a stern talking to; wasting her life mooning over her boss and thinking that they were meant to be together.  It's almost like she is a love struck teenager and I suppose she is quite innocent and inexperienced in matters of the heart.  As her story unfolds, it is quite heartbreaking at times as it appears that life has passed her by and people have taken advantage of her.  At one stage she talks about 'normal people' with 'proper lives' as if there is something wrong with her because she is a single 52 year old woman.  There's nothing wrong with being single but, having met the love of my life in my mid-forties, I know that it's never too late for love.

Jane O'Connor completely hit the nail on the head with Sylvia's character being shocked at children who were now grown up; there's something about being single that seems to make time stand still.  It's almost like you are still a youngster yourself and you can't believe that the 2 year old little girl that you use to babysit is now a grown woman with a family of her own.  It's amazing how many times this has happened to me and I still continue to be gobsmacked when I find out people's can they be 40 when I'm just a young whippersnapper...oh wait a minute!

Although Sylvia would rather stay indoors with a good book (I mean, who wouldn't?) she volunteers at a hedgehog sanctuary.  She initially volunteered to make people think she is nicer than she is but she is thought of as part of the family by Jonas and his daughters.  I think amongst her prickly friends at the sanctuary, Sylvia can be who she really is and we soon see her soft underside.  Many years ago, we had a hedgehog nest in the garden and I've been a fan of these strange creatures of the night ever since, so I really liked the seasonal updates from Jonas' book 'The Hedgehog Year', reminding us to be careful when raking piles of leaves or digging under sheds.  Needlemouse is actually the Japanese term for a hedgehog and I loved how the use of this word came about in the book.

Needlemouse is an absolutely stunning and completely flawless debut; it's both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of life, love, family and friendship and a reminder that it's never too late to start living.  I am in no doubt at all that this book is going to be a HUGE success.  Fans of Eleanor Oliphant definitely need Sylvia Penton in their lives!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Click below to buy it from Amazon:
Needlemouse: The uplifting bestseller featuring the most unlikely heroine of 2019

About the author:

Jane O'Connor is a former primary school teacher turned academic and writer. She was born and brought up in Surrey and lived in London until she moved to the West Midlands in her mid-thirties. Jane's PhD was about child stars and she is now a Reader at Birmingham City University where she researches children's experiences of celebrity, media and everyday life. Jane lives in Sutton Coldfield with her husband and two young sons in a house full of pirates, dinosaurs, superheroes and lots of books. She really likes all animals, especially hedgehogs. Needlemouse is her debut novel.

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