Book Club: While my eyes were closed by Linda Green

Henpicked’s book of the month for April 2017…

While my eyes were closed book cover with trees in the backgroundWell we enjoyed Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, and we’d recommend the book. Please check out the reviews.

A huge thank you to our book champions and to the Henpicked community for their comments and reviews. If you have any further thoughts please drop them into Disqus at the bottom of the article.

We’re really excited to announce that While my eyes were closed by Linda Green is our book of the month for April, and it’s highly rated:

‘A beautifully crafted novel of knife-edge suspense’

‘A nail-biting psychological drama’

‘Clever and compelling’

‘The suspense becomes quite unbearable – and there’s a final flourish in the form of a very punchy twist. A terrifyingly plausible story, that will have parents looking over their shoulders’ Sunday Mirror

We’re looking for 10 book champions so if you would like to volunteer, please let us know. We give each of our champions a FREE copy of the book of the month in return for hearing what they think of it.

Just like last month, we’ll let our book club subscribers have some key points about the book to think about throughout the month and in the meantime, please do get reading!

Feel free to jump into the discussion about the book at any time during the month using Disqus which is ready and waiting for you and shows up at the bottom of this page – it’s free to sign up and once you are logged in, you can comment on any of the articles on the Henpicked website.

Other book suggestions

Please let us know if you have any recommendations!

We welcome you all and remember there is no right or wrong with reading – everyone’s opinion counts.

Happy reading!!

Henpicked

About Henpicked

From the Henpicked team!

  • Deborah

    Dowloaded mine on Kindle, bargain!

    • Me too as I’m in France and can’t get to the library to order a copy – which is a good option if you don’t want to buy it.

  • Trudi Saxton

    Linda Green, While my eyes were closed has just been delivered, looking​ forward to reading it…..

  • Denise C Willingham

    Received my copy yesterday I hope to start it today

  • Paula Sharratt

    Am I still a book champ? I haven’t received my copy and wondered?

    • Deborah

      Hi Paula, sorry checked our list and you’re not for this month. Every month we select those who ask for the book of the month on first come, first served basis so more women get to the change to take part. So sorry, hope you put your name in for next month x

      • Paula Sharratt

        Ah! That’s fine. It’s nice to do the reviews. Thanks.

  • Ciara Kelly

    OMG, have you guys finished it yet? I seriously could not put it down and read it in less than a week! It made me feel so uneasy, even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking, ‘what’s wrong, why am I feeling like this?’ And then I remembered, it’s the book, I must find out what happens to Ella!

  • Tracy Wood

    Really enjoyed this book. I stayed up way too late to finish it and then wished it hadn’t ended yet. I never suspected the ‘ohhhh’ moment which always makes it better. I sympathised but I also felt amazed at some of the thoughts of the protagonists. I will definitely read more by this author, I thought it was an excellent book.

    • Deborah

      Thank you Tracey, saving it for the Easter break, can’t wait now!!

  • Trudi Saxton

    Not read anything by Linda Green before. Straight into the story and kind of holding my breath while reading….

  • Marion

    I start my holiday tomorrow and have been saving this – so looking forward to making a start on the plane !

    • Deborah

      Have a wonderful holiday Marion!!

  • Kay Garrett

    A difficult book to read, not because of the writing but because of the subject matter – every parent’s worst nightmare. The book dealt extremely well with the perils we navigate as mothers, not just Lisa and Muriel but peripheral characters like Liam Taylor’s mother. And it was also spot on about our speed to judge other people – Lisa is instantly judgemental of the young mother with a cigarette at the park, and Muriel was judging Lisa simply by looking at her. And everyone judged Liam Taylor. Very reflective of our society today, with keyboard warriors, fake news and online trolling. It also really struck a chord with me, how difficult it is trying to keep all your plates spinning with children and work, and how easy it is to get distracted. While the women in the book come across as strong if flawed characters the men seem a bit two dimensional – Vince is a stereotype and Alex seems to have no personality. I enjoyed reading this although it’s left me feeling uncomfortable, not an easy read but I’ll look out for this author again.

  • Marion

    thanks for this – just arrived in hotel so about to get started – (I think I like ‘difficult ‘ books – certainly ones that challenge)

  • Nicola Doughty

    Midway through the book….. Despite the subject matter, it’s very compelling and am so very tempted to fast forward a few chapters (or even sneak a peek at the last page) to check how it’s going to end!

    • Deborah

      Don’t do it, you know you’ll regret it 😉

  • Trudi Saxton

    Similar here Nicola, around halfway through this book, quite gripped and need to see where the story is going!

  • Marion

    Well. I’ve finished it – and because I was on holiday I had the luxury of reading great chunks (rather than my usual few paragraphs before falling asleep).
    I had young children once and can still remember the terror of losing one in a supermarket. The subject matter was bold but I found the characters bland and stereotyped. The crazy older woman (who morphed into a pathological mess), why was she incontinent? The ‘sex offender’ (yes, I know it was done for effect – but it felt contrived) and the over fussy mother / distant mother in law. The uber fit Personal Trainer (that’s what I do for a living!) and the distracted husband.
    I am not at all sure about the amazing ‘Sparrow’ coincidence – I thought it might have been more powerful if that were deliberate rather than accidental?
    I found the ending a bit too ‘nice’ – a bit ‘happy ever after’? For me there was no dilemma in the book – there was no doubt that Muriel was deranged and untangling, and should return Ella straight away. I couldn’t be cross with Lisa for a short phone call to a client – not really heinous. Maybe misguided to play hide and seek in such a wide space? A brief moment with a lover would have sowed the seeds of doubt perhaps?
    Tony’s past provided a twist – but no further depth and the Grandad’s behaviour was a bit incredible.
    For me the test of a really good book is when I start to think in the language of the author (am thinking here of Iris Murdoch, Susan Hill) – this didn’t happen here.
    But it was a great holiday read – all about a nightmare we all hope never to live through

  • Denise C Willingham

    Hi I finished the book yesterday and although I did enjoy it I cant say I really got involved with the characters and like another reader did find them a bit stereotyped and sorry but a bit dull . It was a book I wanted to keep reading just to see what happened in the end and when I got to the end I confess I thought oh that’s nice !!! and that’s about it . Maybe this just wasn’t the book for me . Looking forward to next months book hope it’s a good one .

  • Awarby

    Read the book in under a week and like another reviewer was tempted to peep at the ending but didn’t. It was certainly a captivating and moving story. The characters were to some extent stereotypes and not all of them were likeable. Although I felt for Matthew I felt irritated by him and I detested his mother. The star of the story was of course Ella. It was a sad but creepy story that held the readers attention throughout. You hoped for the best but my heart was in my mouth at the end. Not my usual reading but would recommend it.

  • Nicola Doughty

    When Lisa Dale takes her eye off the ball and is distracted for just a few minutes by a work call on her mobile, her 4-year-old daughter disappears and panic ensues. Where is she? What’s happened? Has she been taken? The story that follows though is not so much a whodunit as a thought-provoking read as it makes us question our very own actions and judgements. We know from the moment Ella is snatched where she is taken. Yet, had we not known the background to this moment in time, for example, who wouldn’t have judged Lisa? For anyone who finds the subject matter a bit difficult to get to grips with, I’d recommend persevering. There was more than one occasion where I felt the urge to flick through the chapters to check that it ended ok. It does make for compelling reading and the way it is written is really visual; in fact, it’s easy to imagine this as a three part television drama. The characters are believable and flawed in their own way and Muriel and Matthew’s story heart-breaking. Like reviewer Marion though, I was a bit puzzled as to why there wasn’t more emphasis on the link with Sparrow. Surely this would have made the twist more dramatic. Overall though, I’d recommend the book and I’ll certainly look out for more of Linda Green’s novels.

  • Imogen Jamieson

    This caught my attention from the beginning and I found it really easy to read – although the subject matter is challenging and emotive. The descriptions are really good and made the story very visual and it is definitely a book with a beginning, middle and end. As such, it left me without much to think about and although I have only just finished it, the characters are already slipping away from me. Whilst I always think I don’t like an ambiguous ending, this book makes me realise that I do like something to ponder after completing a book and this was very neatly brought together.

  • Trudi Saxton

    Easy to read, despite the unnerving story. Not a genre I would choose but that’s the good part of being in a book club. I feel like I’m looking in through the house windows of all the characters! Currently on chapter 16….

  • Tracey Madeley

    I’m not a parent, but what made this book brilliant was Muriel’s point of view. The way she seeks to justify her actions. Matthew’s point of view helps reinforce the manipulating and controlling nature of his mother. In her eyes she is a great mother, but i don’t think any reader would agree. Matthew’s relationship with Sparrow is not accidental, it is deliberate and secretive and again reinforces the mother’s manipulation.
    The media’s role in the story is interesting. It is necessary for publicising the fact that a little girl has gone missing, but there is also the destructive side where the uncle is accused and the sex offender labelled.
    I liked the ending as there was a reconciliation and clues concerning Sparrow were threaded through the story not just tagged on at the end. The book Club has redeemed itself with this book, as it was becoming a bit predictable.

    • That is so strange, Tracey, because the thread I found most irritating in the book was where it involved Muriel – I found her too much of a caricature of ‘Woman Who Snatches Child!’ – although I do remember a case years ago when I think a woman snatched a child from a hospital and seem to recall she could have been a Muriel. Not even close to the best book I have ever read but I did like the way the author showed just how simple it is for your child to go missing.

      • Tracey Madeley

        How would you have written Muriel? What other motivation could she have had? Would you make her totally evil and manipulative?

    • Is there something you’d like to read or recommend Tracey? We are looking at books for May…

      • Tracey Madeley

        I’m still a little new to this group so I’m not sure what you are aiming for and what your members want. At the moment my impression is that you are a romantic/family orientated book club and although the last book leaned towards the thriller/mystery genre it was still about a family.
        So the question is how much variety do you want? Sci-fi, crime, politics, thriller, fantasy, YA, classics, historical, although I think horror may be a bit much, Stephen King is alright.
        How radical do you want to get? Marlon James wrote A Brief History of Seven Killings and famously said ‘I don’t write for white middle class women.’
        How long is too long? Eleanor Caton’s book The Luminaries is 848 pages.
        The books you have chosen have been excellent so far, but they have been in a similar genre. I appreciate moving out of your comfort zone is risky and I don’t know what would appeal to your readers.

        • The Henpicked book club has been running since last summer and I think we are still exploring this whole area: finding out what our members enjoy and looking for fresh recommendations. Realistically, our choices need to be short enough that women can comfortably read them in a month (and part of the reason we set up the online book club was because a lot of our community don’t feel they have time to get to a regular book club meeting). Personally I’m all for exploring as many different genres as we can – including revisiting the classics/literature – but funnily enough, like you, I’m not that keen on horror, and I don’t think young adult would necessarily appeal either, but who knows… Suggest away, Tracey!

  • Trudi Saxton

    Finished reading this last night, found the story line really uncomfortable but engrossed enough to want to learn how it ends. Many emotions along the way, different viewpoints to consider, as well as my own thoughts as a parent. I can’t say it was enjoyable to read but can admire the writing and some of the characters too. Phew! Thanks for including it in the book club choices.

  • I finished this a couple of days ago, though I have to admit I did kind of skin to get to the end! However, I went back yesterday and read the last four chapters again and I’ve just been reading all your comments so far. I think the fact that this was a ‘whydunit’ rather than a whodunnit was a relief – when I started reading it I was dreading some terrible denouement – though I found the coincidence about who Ella’s sister was a bit unlikely. That aside, it was well written and you did get a very good sense of who the individuals were and their voices were distinct. I also appreciated the fact that Muriel was known to Ella, as we are still inclined to fear ‘stranger danger’ when statistically it’s much more likely to be someone we know who abducts/rapes/murders. All in all it was a good read and I would probably recommend (but not rave about) it to others. What would you fancy to read next?

    • Tracey Madeley

      I may be able to change your mind about YA. Veronica Roth’s Divergent https://www.amazon.co.uk/Divergent-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00DKEE2P2/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493136836&sr=1-3&keywords=divergence

      I would liken it to a modern Brave New World. I’ve read all three in the series, but I would love to know what everyone else thinks.

      • You are probably right, as I haven’t read any! I suppose I was thinking that our book club members might not be so interested in this genre but that’s just making assumptions 🙂

        • Deborah

          Indeed! would be worth us all exploring new ideas and finding new genres. Tracey, what does ‘YA’ stand for?

          • Tracey Madeley

            Sorry, Young Adult. It usually features teenagers/twenties and the kind of identity, relationship issues they go through.

      • Deborah

        I liked Divergent Tracey, my type of book. And I read all the Hunger Games books even with my husband accusing me into being into teen fiction. My favourite genre for books and films is sci-fi and Divergent is a fabulous story. Agree that we might like to try something different in the book club. Personally I never read romance, just not my thing, love a thriller or something a little different. Favourite books are Red Tent, Book Thief (we all have books we can read over and over) and of course John Wyndham. Maybe we should try the classics too. How about Rebecca??

        • Tracey Madeley

          Hunger Games was my first forage into YA. It is still one of the best 1st person narratives I’ve read, but I do prefer Divergent from an intellectual point of view. I also love Huxley!
          Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca would be good too. Have you read Ender’s Game? Or the one I would still like to read, Asimov’s I Robot?

    • Sally buckby

      Hiya jane, I agree with you I enjoyed this book, it kept my interest this time! It is not something I would have chosen, so it is great to expand what we read, so that is a positive! Saying that, I would definitely recommend this book as it is really well written, and at first it infuriated me swapping from one person to another, but the more i read the more I wanted to explore all these different characters, I did not spot the link with Chloe either until they started talking about sparrow, it was really cleverly done! By the end of it, I actually found myself feeling a little bit sorry for Muriel after realising all she had gone through, and how she did the right thing in the end! Very unusual but enjoyable bookx

  • Alli Batten

    I loved this book, which was a pleasant surprise as I wouldn’t normally go for this genre but this held my interest and I became engrossed with the lives of all the characters involved.

    A challenging read in places but a very good choice for a Book Club as lots to talk about.

    Was tempted to read the last chapter in advance as I was desperate to find out what happened but I resisted!
    The chapters about Muriel I found the most interesting,I never really warmed to Lisa and found her strangely irritating!
    A good read and one I will certainly recommend to others.

  • Diana Woodhead

    I actually enjoyed the book, it was easy to read and all the characters were well defined. I would have liked a bit more out the husband. Good twist in the end and very sad in places but good to have a happy ending.