Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Snakes by Sadie Jones

On bad days he missed her. He would sit on the train, desperate to be home, staring at his reflection and the other ghostly doppelgƤngers of his fellow travellers; their possible selves, and he would think of all the things he wanted, that he might never find.

If you want something that is a total beach read -- family dysfunction, a marriage challenged, tragic death, decaying French hotel -- but with a slightly literary style, this is that book. It's compulsively terribly irresistible.

The Snakes by Sadie Jones
Harper, 2019
Digital review copy from publisher

Our main character Bea comes from wealth (the level of which we don't discover until later in the book) but strives to live without any help from her family, whom she disdains (save for her beloved, troubled brother Alex). Her husband Dan came from poverty; he wants to be an artist but doesn't feel like they can afford for him to do so. On a whim, he pleads with Bea to take their savings and travel to Italy so they can discover themselves. Bea's only request is that they stop off at Alex's hotel in Burgundy.

Everything comes apart there. I hesitate to say more because my pleasure came from watching things unfold, guessing inaccurately at what would happen next. Secrets are revealed in small bursts, painful and raw; tension builds up as slowly as the heat over the day. Jones narrative style stars here: a little dreamy, a little pretty, drawn out in a way I can't help but admire. Her characters are maddeningly real and very tender; I want to throttle and hug almost every one.

There's a small political bent to the story: Bea's politics are liberal while her father's aren't, and so it felt a bit on the nose at times. Otherwise, everything in this story swept me up and held me hostage until the very end. (And ohemgee, That! Ending!)


  1. The book sounds good but I don't like the cover! lol

  2. HOORAY, this sounds wonderful! I read a review of it in the New York Times today, and it sounds like so much fun. I haven't read anything by Sadie Jones yet, but all of her books have sounded pretty good. And I need a lovely beach read!