It took me an uncharacteristically long time to finish this novel by Sophie Hannah. It took me so long that I had the time to reread all but two of her preceding novel’s while struggling with this one. (This is what I always do during the end of the academic year: reread my favorite mysteries as a way of clearing my mind amidst tons of work).
The problem with The Narrow Bed is not the premise or the plotting – both of which are superb. What bugged me is that there were excerpts from a comedian’s memoir in it, and I hate memoirs, especially ones that try to be funny. Not even a great parody on a Melissa McEwen type of feminist, which is this novel’s greatest find, reconciled me with the need to slog through the memoir.
Hannah is brilliant at creating relatable images of selfish women, and a reminder that there’s nothing wrong with female selfishness is sorely needed. This novel’s selfish character – the memoirist comedienne – however is so boring that one wonders why she’s in the novel at all.
But hey, not everybody hates memoirs, so this might be a fantastic novel for many readers.
3 thoughts on “Book Notes: Sophie Hannah’s The Narrow Bed”
What do you mean by ‘memoir’? How do you define it so that first person narrative that you like (presumably Jane Eyre) isn’t considered a memoir?
It’s part of the novel’s plot that one of the characters is writing a memoir, or a true narrative about her life. Of course, it’s a fictional narrative of a fictional character, and Hannah imitates the fake self-deprecating style of these books beautifully but even then I can’t take it.
But you would have loved the Melissa McEwan mockery. Although the original is so ridiculous that it’s hard to mock.