Released: 27th June 2019
Publisher: Ebury / Penguin Randomhouse
Genre: Women's fiction
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…
What a delightfully quirky story.
Upon reading the premise of this, it reminded me of Eleanor Olyphant is Completely Fine, which I fell in love with last year. I was also drawn to the idea of a story interwoven with hedgehogs, as something quaint and unusual. I was not disappointed.
The book is told in diary entries as we are taken into the life of Sylvia, who seems honestly to be a side character in her own life. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that we are being guided by an unreliable narrator - something I love - and we begin to fathom what has brought Sylvia to the point in her life where she seems so lost and withdrawn.
This novel is both hilarious and heart-breaking, with strong themes of family, friendship and belonging. A bittersweet, idiosyncratic story for fans of Helen Fielding and Gail Honeyman, and anyone who likes hedgehogs.
Full disclosure - reading this has led to a household song being created (essentially singing 'needle mouse' in the melody of 'Spider pig' from the Simpson's) as I spent a lot of time while reading it offering up random hedgehog facts to my other half.
Thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to Ebury / Penguin for sending me a copy for review (perhaps the prettiest proof copy I've ever seen). Thanks also to Jane O'Connor for such a wonderful story and my newfound love of needle mice.