Friday, 20 November 2009

Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig

DATE PUBLISHED: 2009 DATE READ: November 2009 NOTES: This is my third “Londoncentric” novel in as many months – the others being William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms and Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December. Hearts and Minds actually has a similar structure to the Faulks book – a group of disparate characters from different social strata whose lives collide and overlap. The story begins with a murder when a girl’s body is found in the water on Hampstead Heath and from the beginning the reader (well, this one) is hooked. We are soon deep into the contrasting worlds of human traffickers, illegal immigrants, struggling professionals, disappointed lovers and the chattering classes of North London. The plotting is brilliant. I can imagine the writer beginning with a large wall-chart and lots of Post-It notes! As the story unfolds some very pertinent social comments are made – such as Polly suddenly realising how little she actually knew about the young woman who lived in her home and looked after her children. The lives of people living precariously in our society were dealt with poignantly and sympathetically. I have one slight criticism inasmuch as I found some of the characters a bit unsubtle. Job was a bit too angelic and Anna a bit too innocent. But, hey, we can’t have everything. I have been recommending Hearts and Minds to all my friends – a really good read.

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