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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Needlemouse, by Jane O'Connor, read by Willow Nash. 

Time to come out of hibernation....

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it's no wonder she's a little prickly....

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays - and it makes people think she's nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she's been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she's sure he's just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future. 

Sylvia might have been sleepwalking through her life, but things are about to change now she’s woken up....

©2019 Jane O'Connor (P)2019 Penguin Audio

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  • Lizziebeth
  • 10-11-2020

Prickly, Defensive, Not Cute

I enjoyed the extracts from Jonas' book 'A Hedgehog Year' and I liked him as a character because he is kind and loving to the hedgehogs in his care. Jonas is devoted to his family and still loves his wife. I also began to like Crystal as she developed through the book and grew up from a bored teenager to a talented, caring young woman.

However, I did not like Sylvia at all and felt she was sneaky, underhand and mean. Sylvia works at the university as a PA to an academic, Prof Lomax. She is secretly in love with him, which boarders on obsessed at times, and sees it as her duty to protect him from everything. Her feelings are not reciprocated and I sometimes wondered if Lomax was actually aware of Sylvia's presence. One day Lomax becomes the supervisor to a PhD student, Lola and Sylvia is driven to taking drastic measures to try to keep 'her Prof' safe from Lola. But has she gone too far this time?

Sylvia volunteers at the hedgehog sanctuary run by Jonas to give the impression she is kind and caring and to have something to talk to her colleagues at the university about. I feel that her motives for volunteering are very mixed and it wasn't very clear to me at the beginning of the book why Sylvia was doing this.

Sylvia's sister, Millie tries to include Sylvia in her evenings out which Sylvia is reluctant to do. Unfortunately, Sylvia doesn't get on with her niece Crystal or her brother-in-law Kamal. When Sylvia goes round to Millie's and Crystal or Kamal are there too, there's a very strained atmosphere. But Sylvia has a secret which, if revealed could hurt many people.

I almost stopped listening to this book several times because I didn't like Sylvia and found her obsession with Lomax annoying. The book dawdled along at a hedgehog's pace and I felt it took a long time to actually take any significant steps. I tried to like the book, because I loved Eleanor Oliphant and thought The Cactus was okay, but was unable to engage with the main character or her actions. I know that some readers loved this book, but I am afraid it wasn't my cup of tea.

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