The Dyslexic Hearts Club by Hanneke Hendrix and David Doherty (translator)
|The Dyslexic Hearts Club by Hanneke Hendrix and David Doherty (translator)|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Kate Jones|
|Summary: An unusual, fast-paced and quirky tale of female bonding and the art of making bad decisions, which kept me on the edge of my seat.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 192||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: World Editions|
|External links: Author's website|
I recently reviewed a novel by another Scandinavian novelist, Helle Helle, This Should be Written in the Present Tense, and I expected this novel by Hanneke Hendrix to be very similar. It wasn't. That's not totally a bad thing – many people will enjoy the fast-paced, dialogue driven novel that The Dyslexic Hearts Club is. It just wasn't exactly what I was expecting.
The story centres around three women in a hospital ward, all exhibiting severe burns, and all with a story to tell. The story is told from the viewpoint of one of the women, Anna Van Veen, and I did think it might have worked better as a narrative split between all three of the protagonists.
However, Van Veen begins to tell her story, even referring back as far as childhood, whilst simultaneously becoming involved in the other two women's situations. As events begin to unfold, all three women's stories are unravelled, and they take the unanimous decision to go on the run.
This is where the story began to go a bit awry for me. The scene where they seemingly suddenly all decide to run away feels hurried and not entirely believable. I thought at one point that I'd missed a couple of pages - it seemed to change so suddenly.
Similarly, the fact that three women with severe burns, in their nightgowns and with the police already at the hospital, could escape and live on the run, gaining help from people all over the place despite their faces being on every screen and newspaper, strikes me as more than quirky. It felt too unreal for a story set up as a tale of female bonding and the decisions each have made which have led them to this point.
The pace of the book is very good, and it certainly made me want to keep reading to the end, to find out what happens to the three women. I felt that none of the three characters, however, really fully developed or fully engaged me, partly because I didn't feel much connection with them. Another issue was the fact that, for reasons I couldn't quite understand, the author chose to give all three women the same name of 'Anna'. I found this confusing and unnecessary, and I'm unsure if it was perhaps intended to show the bond between them, of how their lives are connected. The other characters they meet along the way also seem a bit stereotypical, and a revelation close to the end of the book seemed, for me, too random and co-incidental.
There is quite a bit of black humour in the novel. It does keep you on the edge of your seat and I did find myself willing the women to get away. I think anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, dialogue heavy novel, where you are willing to suspend your own ideas and just enjoy the ride, will enjoy this book. I certainly found myself reading it straight through in two sessions, though it wasn't really the sort of book I would normally seek out.
If you liked this, you might like: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dyslexic Hearts Club by Hanneke Hendrix and David Doherty (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dyslexic Hearts Club by Hanneke Hendrix and David Doherty (translator) at Amazon.com.
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