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The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets

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3.31  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Everybody has their secrets, and in Sophie Hannah's fantastic stories the curtains positively twitch with them. Who, for instance, is the hooded figure hiding in the bushes outside a young man's house? Why does the same stranger keep appearing in the background of a family's holiday photographs? What makes a woman stand mesmerised by two children in a school playground, ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 22nd 2008 by Sort of Books (first published February 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.31  · 
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Kris - My Novelesque Life
DNF @ 26%
2008 (UK) and 2016 (North America); William Morrow

I am SUPER picky when it comes to short stories. I find that a lot of writers are unable to capture a story into a smaller format (after reading Alice Munro, the master, it's hard to read just any shorter piece). I will usually give my favourite writers a shot as you never know, right? After DNF another of Sophie Hannah's novel, I have been on the fence about trying another book.

I picked up this book in 2016 not knowing it was an
...more
shanghao
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Little morsels of interesting stories but some of the endings felt like someone just grabbed that morsel away from me just when I was about to chew it.

I like the first story about a stalker, the third one with the repressed 'nice' person, and to a certain extent the one with the weird neighbours.
Lynda Dickson
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ages 17+
Shelves: adult
This is a collection of ten short (albeit quite long) stories. I haven't read them all yet, so this review is for the first four stories.

In "The Octopus Nest", Claire and her husband discover a mysterious woman in all their holiday photos taken over the last ten years. But not all is as it seems. The ending will shock you.

In "Friendly Amid the Haters", our narrator deals with incompetence at every turn - until she reaches her breaking point. Just how far can things go over a stained carpet?

In
...more
Beth
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Someone gave me a copy of this book and I had no idea what to expect when I started reading. Loved it! This is a book full of fantastically flawed people in quirky yet banal, sometimes desperate situations. A lot of fun to read.
Stephanie Ward
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets' is a thrilling collection of short stories that will leave readers wanting more. I normally don't read short stories because it never feels like enough time to really develop deep characters or intricate plot lines - especially since some of my favorite genres are thrillers and mysteries. I recently read and reviewed another collection of short stories by this author, and I enjoyed them enough that I decided to give this collection a try. I'm so glad ...more
Sarah
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
“Everybody has their secrets,” insinuates the blurb on the back of this book, “and in Sophie Hannah’s fantastic stories the curtains positively twitch with them.”

True, but that’s only half the picture. Hannah has an uncanny knack for setting out her stories in such a way that you feel you could find your way blindfold amongst the Formica and office furniture, get comfy, maybe even a little bored because familiarity can breed contempt – only to find yourself tripping over the psychopath lurking
...more
Ploni Almoni
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Short stories. She isn't a good writer in Annie's meaning of "good". But she writes directly and to the point. Occasionally the characters exhibit startling insights which make the project worthwhile. I can't recommend Hannah's books as good literature-but I do find them very readable and enjoyable.
Martha
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Somewhat uneven, but still worth a read. Some of the stories were very good.
Kathleen Kelly
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Secrets, everyone has them, no matter who you are and sometimes secrets should be kept just that, secrets. The Fantastic Book of Everyones Secrets is one of those books that, even though they can be categorized as thrillers, sometimes I just had to to laugh out loud. My favorite I think of all the stories is the one. Twelve Noon, where a woman who has finally decided to drive after a long time, gets confused over a street sign and what it meant. Another favorite is The Nursery Bear, about young ...more
Emily Benet
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I loved this collection of stories. I read it thinking it was going to be a novel but even then I wasn't disappointed! I loved the absurdity of some of the stories and their central characters, the creepy atmosphere, the sense of impending disaster - but these stories weren't depressing, they were intriguing. The only story that left me feeling dissatisfied was 'Nursery Bear' which was so ambiguous I went on google looking for an explanation. Apart from that I really enjoyed it.

Panda
Apr 20, 2013 rated it liked it
this Is a good book of short stories. All with a psychological twist. some of the endings are a little too oblique for my taste but an excellent book for a vacation or to listen to on a long car ride.
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Series of chilling tales from crime writer Sophie Hannah's first short story collection.
Lisa
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
A book of short stories; really enjoyed it, always makes a nice change to read something short and not too involved and Sophie does it very well.
Laura
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
The first story - The Octopus Nest - is fantastic and creepy as hell. The rest of the collection is pretty lackluster.
Claireapagado
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Really average with a few really great stand out stories which raised my rating to a 3.
Joan
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it
These short stories are certainly unusual, like nothing I have read before. Each one is an investigation into the hidden thoughts of the main character. Thoughts are swirling in one direction while the person is saying something in a different direction. Inner imaginations and desires are hidden by outer benign behavior.

The stories are a study in character and the psychology of the human condition. One person might be passive aggressive while another is a would be murderer. Each story centers on
...more
Anne
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-books
2.5 stars. I don't think I have ever read a collection of short stories before. I thought I would give it a try because I like the author. Some of the stories were good and some were not. The problem was that most of them just seemed unresolved at the end. It was like you just started to get interested and then it ended. A few seemed to drag on and I skimmed a lot (especially Herod's Valentines). Overall glad to be done with this one. Not her best work.
Rennetta
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I adore Sophie Hannah's work. I am in the process of reading all of her works that I can get my hands on, and have enjoyed them all so far... except this one. Story after story ended, and I thought "What was the point in that?". These still show Ms Hannah's realistic, fleshed out characters, but, with the exception of the last story, they just felt unconcluded.
Rach
Jan 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
Such a waste of time. The first story was interesting but then ending left something to be desired. All the stories from then were boring and hard to get through. It's just really weird and not in good way.
Tim Love
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
I like Hannah's novels. I've not read any of her stories before. The first story here, "The Octopus Nest", was enjoyable, the 2nd was ok, but I struggled to complete the 3rd, "We All Say What We Want" (45 pages), about Tom - "Nobody appreciated his talents or his personality, so he had stopped using the former and hidden the latter" (p.43); "Honesty, openness, the direct approach - Tom felt about these the way most people felt about hand grenades" (p.45). Tom's not the only character in the book ...more
Deborah
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, edelweiss
3.5 stars

I have not previously read anything by Sophie Hannah, but somehow I had the impression that she writes crime novels, so I was interested to see how she would do in her debut collection of short fiction, The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets. After finishing the book, I looked at Hannah's author page on Goodreads and discovered that, in 2004, her story "Octopus Nest" took first prize in the Daphne du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition, and that story, which serves as the lead
...more
Melissa
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was a bit of a disappointment. It started off so promisingly with "The Octopus Nest", in which a couple discover the same stranger in the background of all their holiday photos. The premise alone gave me chills, and the story itself scared the hell out of me, despite the fact that I read it in public in broad daylight. The following story, "Friendly Amid the Haters", also started off with promise. As in her debut novel, Little Voice, Hannah demonstrated how adept she is at writing ...more
Batsap
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Sophie Hannah's books have the strange ability to keep me absolutely glued to the pages until I have finished reading, but to leave me with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction and annoyance. I think perhaps, after having read most of her novels, that the short story suits her style of plots better. Usually I feel that her novels don't live up to the inevitably intriguing premise, but that didn't seem to be so much of an issue in this short story collection. One thing that still annoys me ...more
Teresa Kander
Although I have a few books by this author in my to be read pile, this is my first experience in actually reading something of hers. Now I can hardly wait to dive in to the others!

This is a book of short stories that will surprise you and catch you totally unaware. Each story seems to be innocent enough, until you discover someone's secret. Once that happens, you see everything through a different lens.

Each story is very well-written, as well as being suspenseful and thought-provoking. My
...more
Hilary G
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is one of the best collections of short stories I have ever read.

The first story, 'The Octopus Nest', won first prize in the 2004 Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition, and it is easy to see why. It is a perfectly crafted story, not dissimilar to Sophie Hannah's full-length mysteries, but compacted into only 11 pages. It is very impressive.

Although 'The Octopus Nest' is the best story in the collection, I wasn't disappointed in any of the others, which are all quirky and
...more
Manda
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gosh, Sophie Hannah's clever. She's a favourite author of mine and I'd never read these slightly older short stories, so thought I'd give them a whirl. I'd expected a gentle and easy interlude from some recent heavier reads, but Hannah has craftily produced something much greater than I'd anticipated.

The writing skips along so smoothly, and the characters are drawn effortlessly well in the short time frame, that you don't immediately notice the growing sense of foreboding until you're tense and
...more
Jerie
Jan 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
I normally enjoy reading anything Sophie Hannah writes, but this was just a collection of short stories about ridiculous people getting themselves into ridiculous situations. Period. I did unexpectedly laugh out loud a few times during the first couple of stories, but it ultimately became repetitious, because although the characters and situations are all different, they're all too similar and depressingly not worth the effort. When I read a book I want to at least have one character to relate ...more
Nicole
DNF @ 31%

I tried to get through this book. The first short story was good. The second short story literally put me to sleep. The third one attempted to put me in a coma.

There is no engagement here; there is nothing exciting or particularly mysterious about these stories. Instead, them seem to only exist as a treaty on why I hate postmodern fiction.

While the idea of the work has promise, the stories literally go nowhere.
Kathleen Gray
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Short stories have the advantage of allowing you to dip in and out of a book without feeling guilty if you aren't enjoying part of it. Hannah's novels feel inconsistent to me; I've loved some and hated others. That's true for this as well. Thanks to Edelweiss for the copy of the reissue - try this if you like short stories. This is a quick read and a good intro to her work.
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Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case ...more