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When She Woke Paperback – 25 September 2012
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|Paperback, 25 September 2012||
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- Publisher : HarperCollins GB (25 September 2012)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0007456727
- ISBN-13 : 978-0007456727
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 791,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
‘Hillary Jordan channels Nathaniel Hawthorne by way of Margaret Atwood in this fast-paced, dystopian thriller. Unputdownable’
Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day
‘Not only one of the best books of the year, but it's everything the dystopian genre was made for . . . An instant classic for the 21st century’
‘Holds its own alongside the dark intentions of Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury’ NEW YORK TIMES
‘A stunning futuristic thriller … the setup in the first part of the book is excellent, very Handmaid’s Tale, the second half is a straight chase and escape tale. The whole thing is stunning.’
PRAISE FOR HILLARY JORDAN:
‘Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm’
‘Jordan's tautly structured debut . . . confronts disturbing truths about America's past with a directness and a freshness of approach that recalls Alice Walker's The Color Purple.’
‘The winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for a novel 'promoting social responsibility,' Hillary Jordan is happily a writer who puts her duty to entertain first’
About the Author
Hillary Jordan spent fifteen years working as an advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. Her first novel, Mudbound, was named one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade by PASTE magazine. It won the 2006 Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and awarded biennially to an unpublished debut novel that addresses issues of social justice. Hillary grew up in Dallas, Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She lives in Brooklyn. hillaryjordan.com
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The story itself seemed to be a modern retelling of Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" with it being no coincidence that the character's crime is melachromed to the colour red, both linking it to this historical story (but with a modern twist - but then, let's face it,tales of bigotry, racism and women suffering at the hands of men are as old as time itself) and to the character's ultimate REDemption.
I loved this story - the characters were beautifully developed and believeable, as was the story itself. It was stylishly told and I couldn't put it down for long. Like Hannah, I felt myself to be on a journey - and like Hannah, I had no idea where it was going to take me or what the end result would be. Too many stories are predictable in the end - but I was damned if I knew what Hannah's fate was going to be - even with only 11 pages left I had no idea if she would make it or not.
I cannot recommend this book enough - I have found a new favourite author and I expect myself to be "Mudbound" and getting to grips with the author's first novel, very soon.
Hillary Jordan writes well and on a superficial level this is a very readable book. She elicits our empathy for Hannah and we want to see how she copes in a society that despises her. But there's really not much meat in this novel. The 'future' is not so very different from our recent past and the descriptions of the society could have been written pretty much of present-day bible belt America. Jordan discusses the rights and wrongs of abortion, the role of religion and the place of women in the society but I'm afraid has nothing new or original to say on these subjects. There is an acceptance throughout the book of God as a certainty that jarred with me - the question was not whether God exists but how he should be followed. Jordan unfortunately didn't flinch from raising hoary old feminist clichés such as 'Is God a woman?', while the male characters were at best moral weaklings and at worst evil and tyrannical.
Even these criticisms, though, make the book seem more than it is. Ultimately, this is a romance novel disguised as literary fiction. Having enjoyed Jordan's previous novel Mudbound I had hoped for more. I still believe she has the potential to write a great novel - however this is not it.
Unfortunately, after a strong start, the plot becomes quite confused. Hannah, after a series of events in which she seems to behave out of character (and then slip back into her 'good girl' persona, almost as though the author is not sure where she wants to take her) finds herself on the run and aided by those she would have called terrorists before her chroming. As another reviewer has pointed out, much of the action is not in Hannah's control and so the story often sees to drag. She also spends much of the book obsessing about her married lover who, frankly, just doesn't seem worth so much trouble and worry. The storyline is a good idea (if somewhat reminicent of "The Scarlet Letter") and I imagine it would have more impact in America, where issues such as abortion cause highly divided and emotive opinions. Overall, the novel was enjoyable but did not live up to its promise.