Book Review: The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

This book has been popping up on loads of blogs and I was intrigued but only managed to get hold of a copy a few weeks ago. I am going to do as I am told and not give the story away so here's the blurb:
We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.

Nevertheless you need to know enough to buy it so we will just say this:

This is the story of two women.

Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice.

Two years later, they meet again
-the story starts here...

Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either.
The magic is in how it unfolds.

Some people have been extremely irritated by this blurb and the letter from the editor at the start of the book which announces how amazing it is. I, however, was not irritated as this book is amazing. If The Other Hand had come with a standard blurb then I know that I would not have picked it up and then I would have missed out on what I think is one of the best books that I have read this year.
The book is totally character driven by Little Bee and Sarah, two women of different ages and devastatingly different circumstances. I fell in love with both of these characters, Chris Cleave gives us such an insight into their lives that it does not take long to feel like you know them inside out.
There are so many harrowing scenes in this book and on more than one occasion I was reading with tears streaming down my cheeks. But there is so much wit and humour too, it really does carry the story and gives a profound sense of hope.
It is such a fantastic and I think, important book. I could not put it down and it only took me a couple of days to read it. Since then I have not stopped thinking about The Other Hand and I know it's annoying not to know more but I urge you to give it a go.
I wonder if any of you who have already read it are like me in that you would not have picked it up had you known the subject matter? It's quite a risky marketing strategy isn't it?


verity said...

I have yet to read this - I find myself intrigued by the blurb, but also annoyed by it - how can I decide whether I might like to read it or not if no-one is allowed to review it properly!

farmlanebooks said...

I think the blurb is quite annoying, as I would have read it after finding out what it is about, but a blurb like that doesn't make me want to pick it up.

I loved The Other Hand though - so emotional! It had me gripped all the way through and I'm not sure I've read another book that long in one sitting before. I want to read Incendiary now, but am worried it will be even more disturbing.

Jo said...

I don't know if I would have picked this up just on the blurb, but it came by personal recommendation, and I'm very glad I read it. I remember those tears, but I also remember feeling guilty for chuckling in places, considering the subject matter.

I just read Incendiary, and I actually think that is slightly better, but probably just as disturbing.

Dot said...

Verity- I was intrigued and also a little annoyed at not knowing much about it but I am so glad that I did read it, definitely in my top 5 books of the year!

farmlanebooks- the blurb was annoying but I also have to be honest in that I probably wouldn't have thought it would be a book I would enjoy if I had known the subject matter.

Jo- I felt bad laughing at places, the humour and wit was used in such a clever way. I'm going to try and get a copy of Incendiary soon as I really enjoyed the style of writing.

Nadia said...

The blurb was an annoying marketing strategy because I wasn't sure if I wanted to read a book that I knew nothing about. Luckily I found a review that revealed enough of the book to interest me that I went out and purchased it. However, I was not impressed at all. I did not like the characters and I did not like the story. Just one of those books that I did not agree with. Oh well.

Alayne said...

Nice review. I think the blurb is great, I would definitely pick this up having read that.

Anonymous said...

I thought this book was wonderful. The blurb didnt bother me but the editors letter did, I wanted to have words. I think the film has been optioned for this now.

L said...

That blurb is driving me insane and I've never even heard of the book until now. It sounds like a very strange book and I'm tempted to say I want to read it but I have no idea what genre it falls under. I'm a strictly chick lit/young adult/suspense thriller girl!

Will look out for this though as it does interest me.

Melody said...

I'm definitely intrigued by that plot, but I've to admit it is quite annoying too!

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Now I'll have to check it out.

Dot said...

Nadia- I think it is one of those books that you either love or hate, I really fell in love with the characters.

Alayne- Thank you, one of the best I have read this year. Hope that you enjoy it if you do get a copy.

Simon- the editor's letter was very irritating wasn't it! A film version sounds good, I shall look out for that!

L- It is so hard to describe it without spoiling it! The plot definitely has you turning the pages though.

Melody- It is annoying not being able to give more information but it is such a good book, one worth reading.

Diane said...

Called "Little Bee" here in the US, this book will make my top 5 list for 2009. Loved it. Great review.

Dot said...

Diane- Thank you! I think I like the US title even more, it will be in my top 5 books of the year too!

Kim said...

Mmm... now I am in a dilemma!
I would not buy this book based upon the blurb if I had picked it up in a book store, but, because you said that it will be in your Top 5 list of 2009, Dot, I am tempted to read it.
So, I've decided, if the book crosses my path, I will read it, if not, then I will not hunt it down.
I do think this kind of marketing is very risky though. I wonder if it helped the book sales at all? It is hard to say now how the book would have been received with a more conventional blurb, of course and I cannot decide if it was a very brave or very stupid path to take. What do you think?

Dot said...

Kim- I think it was quite a brave move with the blurb but everyone has reacted differently to it! If I had known what the book was about then I know I would not have read it and then I would have missed out. However there must be so many people that were annoyed by the blurb and didn't read it for that reason so they too have missed out! Difficult isn't it! Look forward to reading what you think if you manage to get hold of a copy!

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