The Hummingbird and the Bear by Nicholas Hogg

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The Hummingbird and the Bear by Nicholas Hogg

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: An unusual combination of romance and thriller that takes some time to heat up.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Corsair
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849016476

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Sam Taylor seems to have a charmed life – a City job that brings him wealth and prestige, a wonderful fiancée and a lovely London home. But all this can't compensate for a childhood that contained great sorrow; he is haunted by a sense of being somehow incomplete. When a chance encounter at a wedding brings a new woman into this life, he begins to hope that he has found everything he really needs.

In spite of their respective partners, he follows American Kay across the pond and embarks on a thrilling but dangerous love affair. The background of the novel reflects the shaky ground on which Sam is standing; the world economy is crashing, the Americans are on the verge of major political change, and instability is everywhere. But as Sam's life becomes more chaotic, his own insecurities are swept away by his all-consuming love for Kay, and the two take greater risks in order to be together.

Hogg's novel does not make a promising start. Although the characters are clearly drawn on the surface, it takes quite some time before they develop fully. The story accelerates far ahead of character development at times, and it is only past the halfway point of the novel that Sam and Kay start to become real.

The risk of creating stereotypes when basing a story in such places as trading floors and the weddings of middle-class England is high. Sensitive writing overcomes this, but Hogg only shows this tendency later in the novel, and there is a good deal of blunt telling rather than showing in the early parts.

This particularly relates to the parts where Sam remembers his childhood, and the danger of cliché is always lurking in these scenes as Sam recites the story of his past in predictable ways. Additionally, there is a lack of charm in the early scenes between Sam and Kay. The clunky writing may be designed to reflect the awkwardness of what occurs between them, but it also has the unfortunate effect of making the affair seem unappealing and thus removing sympathy from the characters.

However, after it becomes clear that Sam is willing to throw away everything he has for his love of Kay, both Sam, Kay and the peripheral characters take on more depth and with that, the book improves a great deal. As both Sam and Kay face increasing and surprising dangers as a result of their affair, the book takes on a new and thriller-like direction and with that, we learn more about them and they become real. Hogg is also to be applauded for having the courage to give the characters the endings that truly fit them, and drawing the threads together in order to create a story that is ultimately quite satisfying.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe. You might also enjoy All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth.

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Buy The Hummingbird and the Bear by Nicholas Hogg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hummingbird and the Bear by Nicholas Hogg at


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