There Was An Old Woman by Hallie Ephron
William Morrow (ebook), 2013
When Evie Ferrante learns that her mother has been hospitalized, she finds her mother’s house in chaos. Sorting through her mother’s belongings, Evie discovers objects that don’t quite belong there, and begins to raise questions.
Evie renews a friendship with Mina, an elderly neighbour who might know more about her mother’s recent activities, but Mina is having her own set of problems: Her nephew Brian is trying to persuade her to move to a senior care community. As Evie investigates her mother’s actions, a darker story of deception and madness involving Mina emerges.
Mina Yetner sat in her living room, inspecting the death notices in the Daily News.
There Was an Old Woman was just okay. I love the title and the premise sounded like a good read. I like suspense novels. Unfortunately, the novel wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t work for me – I just feel so-so about the book. I didn’t love it or hate it – I just didn’t think much of it. I did like the climax of the novel when Ephron does the big reveal, the only problem is this is hinted at long before it happens so it a bit anti-climactic. I love it when a writer takes me by surprise. This never happens with There Was an Old Woman. It was all a bit predictable. I also really didn’t like the fact the book is subtitled, A Novel of Suspense. It’s never a good thing when a writer needs to point out the genre of the novel. It’s the writer’s job to let the reader work this out without bashing them over the head. I’ve read a few books subtitled a novel of….. and they’ve all been weak, as if the writer lacks confidence their work will be understood by a reader. I will now go out of the way to avoid novels with such sub titles. There Was an Old Woman wasn’t terrible, it was just okay and little lacklustre. If you want a run-of-the-mill, paint-by-numbers suspense novel then There Was an Old Woman is perfect. If you want something original that keeps you guessing until the end the read something else.