Wednesday 21 March 2018

Review Time! - The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

The Art of Hiding title image with two hands making a heart shape with sun shining through in sepia tones; small note in corner reads 'Book Review @ Dora Reads'

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Title: The Art of Hiding

Author: Amanda Prowse

Genre: contemporary

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.


I keep forgetting the name of the main character of this book so if I start talking about Marie or Nicky (who are *not* characters in this book,) I mean Nina.

I don't *think* I've done it - but it's possible!

It's not a minus for the book - honestly! I just have some sort of weird mental block when it comes to Nina! 😅


Nina's family is perfectly perfect. She lives a life of privilege far removed from her poor upbringing.

But all of that is about to change.

With her husband's death, she learns of the financial problems he was keeping from her. The future of herself and her sons is suddenly not so certain...

Best bits:

As always for Amanda Prowse's books, this is exceptionally well-written, and chock-full of complex characters.

Prowse excels at female characters - ordinary women facing the problems ordinary women face, whether those problems are ordinary or extraordinary.

Her characters have layers, don't always know what to do, react to different situations based on their own traits and experiences, and generally are a joy to read!


I've said it before, and I'm sure at some point I'll say it again:

It's only because Amanda Prowse is a woman, writing about women's issues, and female characters, that she's relegated to 'women's fiction' as opposed to 'literary fiction.'

I personally don't think either women's fiction or literary fiction are legitimate genres as opposed to marketing techniques. But there y'have it! 😉


I like Nina's slow realisations that her marriage was not everything she had convinced herself that it was.

The 'perfect' marriage of her thoughts in the first few chapters is slowly but gradually shown to be what it was - loving, yes, but also unhealthy.

Her husband was not the perfect man she had drawn him to be.

And with that, she finds the way to push herself out of his shadow, and into the light.

Despite what she herself seems on the surface, Nina is not weak. Nina is strong as hell.

Not so great bits:

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Potentially distressing content in this book includes:

- poverty

- grief/bereavement

- loss of a spouse; loss of a parent

- repossession of property

- implied possibility of suicide

- implied emotional abuse

- car accidents

- family tensions


The main 'plot-hole' here was a simple yet annoying one: why the hell didn't Nina claim any benefits?!

In the UK, people on a low income or without work are entitled to state benefits to help them, y'know, *live.*

Since Nina supposedly grew up poor in Southampton I'd expect her to go to the Job Centre to sign on for Jobseeker's Allowance.

Or she could've not *wanted* to sign on, because of how difficult it is, or the stigma, etc. But to not mention, or consider, benefits at all?

Like, not even housing benefit to help her with the rent? Especially considering she's supposed to be down to her last £20 or so?

Not realistic, and comes across as a glaring gap in the author's knowledge of being poor (or even just not well-off,) in the UK.


Also, her sons are damned annoying.

I totally get why she gives them lee-way all the time - this is a massive shock for them, and she's their mum, and she loves them; but dudes, you DO NOT speak to your mother like that!!!

Spoilt rich brats.


Also, the relationship between Nina and her husband is never out-right described as controlling and emotionally abusive.

Nina does realise, little by little, that the way he treated her wasn't right, but to many people this won't go far enough.

She also still loves him - again, this is perhaps realistic when it comes to the complexities of abusive relationships, but to many people this will be both upsetting and inexcusable.


A couple of problems, sure, but it's still an interesting, complex, and pretty damned awesome book! :)

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  1. Seems like a great book! I also hate when people classify stuff as “women’s fiction.” I feel like it drives men away from reading when in reality they could be missing out on a great book!

    1. Yes! And then, 9 times out of 10, they give it a fluffy cover, whether or not the book is *actually* fluffy! Lol.

  2. again thank you for the warning, All those are topics I like to read about. I agree about some genres being more of a marketing tool I think something in me refuses to read "women fiction" I dislike that term. Those books should be just fiction. WTH! Glad to hear you enjoyed this one despite the couple of issues

    1. I know right?! It's not like it's fantasy, where there tends to be some magic faffing around or whatever! And since no-one seems to be able to define 'literary fiction' and the definition for 'women's fiction' is for/about/written by women, they can kindly go f**k off!!! Argh! Lol.

      And I did like it :) She's actually an amazing writer, and I'm glad I gave her a chance when I read The Idea of You a little while back - I really love her books! :)

    2. You have to laugh [so not to scream] when they create a "genre" for books written/read/abut by HALF of the population. Funny how the "majority" that holds the power thinks or makes it look like you are a "minority" even when you are NOT [ok... I'm hyperventilating now lol]

    3. Calm, Daniela, calm! Lol. (I totally agree btw!)

  3. I hadn't heard of this book before but it sounds very interesting. I don't really know what is up with womens fiction vs literary fiction either. Like why can't it all just be literary fiction? Is there such a thing as male fiction too?

    I'm terrible at remembering characters names in movies so I understand about the Nina name issue :D

    It's strange that she doesn't consider getting benefits! But it sounds like aside from the that, the relationship and the characters are wonderfully complex. I really like that in my books!

    1. Ha, so true!

      I know right, *why* wouldn't she consider benefits?! And yeah, it's pretty awesome! XD

  4. That's a different kind of premise, someone going from *having* to *not having* and learning to handle it. Sounds like the author did it well though, with the exception of the benefits thing. And the characters do sound complex and well-written!

    1. Yeah, it was really good! That plot-hole though! *groans* ;)


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