Sunday, July 6, 2014

Her by Harriet Lane

Her is a psychological thriller by Harriet Lane. The novel tells the story of two women, Emma and Nina, who meet seemingly by chance on a London street after twenty years.  Emma doesn't recognize Nina, but Nina remembers everything about Emma from one summer when they were teenagers. She hasn't forgotten what Emma did.

Emma is in a vulnerable place in her life. She had a successful career in television, but now she's a stay at home mother with two small children. She and her husband, Ben, rely on his income, and it's not working out well. Those things that she took for granted--a cleaning woman, new clothes, vacations, home repairs--have been put on the back burner. Instead, her days are spent trying to keep two little ones happy and manage a home with no time for herself.

Nina, on the other hand, spends her days painting in her studio and is a successful artist. To Emma, Nina is sophisticated and stylish with her lovely clothes and even has a vacation home in France. Emma, short on self-esteem, is drawn to Nina despite the people around Emma who question why Nina is so intent on being friends. 

As with much of this story, things are not what they seem. Nina has a difficult and distant seventeen year old daughter from a previous marriage and longs for the days when her daughter was younger and needed her. Nina also has an older husband who has little interest in her. Life hasn't worked out the way she planned, and for this, she blames Emma.

As the novel unfolds, the chapters alternate between Nina's and Emma's telling of the story. What kept me reading was the real reason Nina is so intent on revenge. Emma is very likable, and I wondered if something would be revealed to change my mind.

Lane's writing is subtle. She scatters information about the past like little crumbs, never revealing exactly what we need to know until the end, when it all comes together with a powerful shocker of an ending.

Her would be a good choice for a book club because there are many elements of the story that would generate lively discussion.


  1. Glad to see a review of this one! I picked up a copy at BEA and have been looking forward to picking it up soon - I love a good book that has a reveal hanging over it throughout.

  2. Thanks for your comment! I love Harriet Lane's writing style. I'll look forward to hearing what you think about this novel.