A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for organising this blog tour and to Jane O’ Connor and Ebury Digital for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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…
If you’re looking for a light and charming read that is totally quirky and unique then I highly recommend Needlemouse to you.
Not only does this novel have one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read in a contemporary novel, it also really recognises that actually people in their post 30s (and then some) still have some of the same issues as their younger counterparts.
At first I wasn’t sure about Sylvia’s character but it didn’t take long before I began to love her devious little ways and her wicked thoughts. She is quite the little minx and a thoroughly enjoyable character to read about. It’s fairly clear that her narration isn’t always the most accurate and this, paired with her non-nonsense attitude gets Sylvia into all sorts of scrapes and situations.
In the beginning the narrative describes Sylvia as a lonely and bitter old lady who has been in love with her boss for 15 years and seems destined to be miserable – and enjoy it a little. As the story unravels and more about Sylvia is revealed, the more her actions are explained and the more lovable she becomes. It’s only when her current life crumbles after some stark realisations that we really see Sylvia come into her own.
Such a brilliant character book with humour and a little sadness. I cannot recommend Sylvia’s uplifting journey enough.
Jane O’Connor is a former primary school teacher turned academic and writer. She grew 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.