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When widowed sisters, Hester and Harriet, move together into a comfortable cottage in a pretty English village, the only blights on their cosy landscape are their crushingly boring cousins, George and Isabelle, who are determined that the sisters will never want for company. Including Christmas Day.
On their reluctant drive over to Christmas dinner, the sisters come across a waif-like young girl, hiding with her baby in a disused bus shelter. Seizing upon the perfect excuse for returning to their own warm hearth, Hester and Harriet insist on bringing Daria and Milo home with them.
But with the knock at their front door the next day by a sinister stranger looking for a girl with a baby, followed quickly by their cousins’ churlish fifteen-year-old son, Ben, who also appears to be seeking sanctuary, Hester and Harriet’s carefully crafted peace and quiet quickly begins to fall apart.
With dark goings-on in the village, unlooked-for talents in Ben, and the deeper mysteries in Daria’s story, Hester and Harriet find their lives turned upside down. And, perhaps, it’s exactly what they need.
Hester and Harriet is one of those books that is just so fun to read. The characters are absolutely amazing. I mean, if there was some kind of magic that bought book characters to life, these characters would probably already need only a tiny bit of the dose since they’re already halfway there!
The characters “literally-metaphorically” leap off the page. Each character has their own quirks, their own way of speaking, their own wild personality differences. Ben, a teenager, talked in a rougher way, whereas the two older women talked in a more articulate manner. Daria, whose grasp on English wasn’t that strong, talked in a stuttering, unsure way. Even the secondary characters, for example, Penny, who is the town gossip, had their whole own personality.
Hester and Harriet, the two main characters were done superbly. As my mum would say: “one more minute in the pot and it would have spoiled”. Because they’re so similar, you want them both to kind of blend into one person in your head, yet you don’t want the reader to be unable to distinguish between the two. Therefore, they each had one single personality trait. Hester is a cook. Harriet is a bad driver. And that’s enough to set them apart for the rest of the book. Hilary Spiers, you have done well *claps wildly*
This was an interesting book in the fact that although it was a funny (oh my God, sometimes it was absolutely hilarious!) and light-hearted book on the outside, it actually dealt with some very dark and heavy themes, while still managing not to lose any of the sincerity of these themes. I won’t mention any themes for fear of having to insert the dreaded spoiler alert tag, but yeah. Heavy themes, happy book.
The one and only flaw I had with the book. As my very pretentious friend likes to remind me, there’s a fine line between being pretentious and being articulate. Although this wasn’t way too pretentious, it did lean a little onto the “looking-up-words-in-the-dictionary” side, and therefore, the writing was a tiny leetle bit stilted. Tiniest bit.
In conclusion, I recommend you read this book on the commute to and from work/school, or some time on the holidays. It’s definitely not a page turner, but still has the element of action and suspense at times, enough to keep you interested. Buy it. Read it.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10
Hester and Harriet is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.
- Title: Hester and Harriet
- Author: Hilary Spiers
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Allen and Unwin (October 20th, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN13: 9781925266412
- URL: Goodreads, Allen and Unwin