Beth’s increasingly obsessive quest to uncover the truth leads her from the UK to Florida and to a shocking revelation. The plotting here is more outrageous than usual for Hannah, and might even stretch the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief. But few will complain, given her customary rich and nuanced characterisation.
The premise of Sophie Hannah’s new thriller is entirely, darkly irresistible. It opens as Beth swings past the home of Flora Braid, a friend she last saw 12 years ago. Beth watches from her car as Flora unloads her kids; they haven’t aged a day. “This is the Emily Braid I knew 12 years ago, when she was three years old. And Thomas… I can’t see all of his face, but I can see enough to know that he’s still five years old, as he was when I last saw him in 2007.”... From 2006’s Little Face, in which a mother insists her newborn baby is a stranger, Hannah has always excelled at the knotty, impossible twist and Haven’t They Grown is as complex and as sinister as ever.
In summary the plot sounds bonkers but it’s testament to Hannah’s skill that she creates such a convincing narrative, cleverly manages the suspense and deals with so many contemporary themes. And she hasn’t lost her knack for sending the reader in the wrong direction.