The Engagement by Chloe Hooper

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The Engagement

Five words from the blurb: weekend, handsome, man, property, trap

Chloe Hooper was shortlisted for the Orange Prize her debut novel, A Child’s Book of True Crime. Her new book, The Engagement, is getting a lot of positive press in Australia and since I had an unsolicited review copy sitting on my shelf I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The Engagement is psychological thriller with a Gothic atmosphere. The book is set in Melbourne, Australia, where Liese is working for her uncle’s estate agency. She agrees to show Alexander around a range of properties and they end up having sex in each of them. Alexander then offers to rent Liese for the weekend, leading to the strange situation where Liese is locked, voluntarily, in his house.

The writing in this book is fantastic. I loved the atmospheric descriptions of the Australian landscape and the Gothic feel of narrative.

As we drew closer the house was all windows, reflecting the blankness of the darkening sky. Grey clouds rolled over the glass, camouflaging whatever waited behind it. This building sat in the dust, expectant and watchful, emitting a low piercing sound. Every nearby tree was alive with bird-din. Hundreds, thousands of them were seething in the branches. They signalled to each other, the garden vibrating with their calls – although more truly the sound seemed to come from the stone walls of the house, from deep inside one of its rooms.

Unfortunately the plot wasn’t of the same standard as the writing. Liese and Alexander were both well developed characters, but their actions were unrealistic. I couldn’t understand their motivations, several of the plot twists were bizarre, and the ending left me feeling particularly unsatisfied.

If you enjoy reading books just for their brooding atmosphere then this is a must, just don’t expect any realism from the plot. 

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The thoughts of other bloggers:

…a strange mixture of banality, naivety and menace… Euro Crime

…a brilliant novel that disturbed and enthralled simultaneously… Write Note Reviews

 …if you loved Gone Girl then this is it’s grown-up cousin. The Writes of Woman


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9 Comments

  1. Kathleen says:

    A brooding atmosphere is probably not enough to move this one up my list any further.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, Sorry I can’t be more positive about this one.

  2. Sandy says:

    I agree with Kathleen. Love anything with a Gothic atmosphere but there has to be more to it than that. That is why I so enjoy Kate Morton…gothic with all kinds of twisty threads.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Kate Morton is far better at plots than Hooper, but I think this book has more Gothic atmosphere that Morton’s. I’m with you on prefering Morton though :-)

  3. I’m disappointed to hear this one didn’t live up to expectations Jackie… I had it on my wishlist, may need to reconsider…

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Other people love it – depends how much you enjoy plots in books and how tolerant you are of things that require you to suspend your disbelief.

  4. Too bad with good writing the plot itself failed.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, It is a shame. Hopefully the next book will be more to my taste.

  5. stujallen says:

    this one dosen’t oberly appeal to me Jackie ,I even like Gothic aussie music but this just isn’t me I think ,all the best stu

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