I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the heartwarming Needlemouse, the debut novel by Jane O’Connor. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Ebury Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this feel good book that’s the perfect summer read.
About the book:
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…
A quirky, charming uplifting novel perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Sarah Haywood’s The Cactus. The feelgood bestseller about unrequited love, loneliness and the redemptive qualities of hedgehogs 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.
Oh, what a wonderful and heartwarming debut novel this is! With some reviews it’s difficult to put into words how a book made me feel, but with Needlemouse I don’t have that problem at all. It’s a truly delightful book that left me with a huge smile on my face as I turned the final page, making me feel like I could go out and tackle anything life decided to throw my way that day! It’s such a moving and beautifully written book and, I’m not ashamed to say, it brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion.
Oh Sylvia Penton, what have you done to me?
Now where do I even start with Sylvia? She was a character I didn’t think I was ever going to like. I mean, how could I? She was prickly, hard to get to know, with a mean streak a mile long. She lives alone, dedicating her life to her job at the local university and to her boss Professor Carl Lomax, who she has secretly been in love with for over a decade. In her spare time she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary, not due to her love of hedgehogs, but because it gives her something to talk about and makes her seem nicer than she really is.
But when a new PhD student catches the Prof’s eye, Sylvia finds her life spiralling out of control, with her behaviour becoming more and more desperate, until things finally come to a head, leaving her facing a lonely and uncertain future.
Some of the things Sylvia did in her quest to be with the man she loves made me cringe and, in all honesty, left me not really feeling much sympathy for her at that point in the story. But then, slowly, her prickly outer shell began to be stripped away until we could finally begin to see the real Sylvia underneath her hard and unfeeling exterior. And this was when my feelings for her began to change. Before long, when secrets from her past began to emerge, I could understand why she’d put up the protective walls that she had. And that was when this character who I really didn’t like or understand came to life for me, in ways I never would have expected.
Mostly told in diary form, only bits and pieces of the story are revealed at a time as we get to know Sylvia through her interactions with her work colleagues and family. Her friendship with Jonas, the elderly owner of the hedgehog sanctuary, was particularly endearing and it was this part of the story that made my heart melt and moved me the most.
Needlemouse is a quirky, fun and moving debut that’s full of warmth and heart. I loved it more than I ever thought I could when I started it, with Sylvia becoming a memorable character who I’m unlikely to forget for some time to come.
A gorgeous and uplifting novel that I would highly recommend. Jane O’Connor is a stunning new talent and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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