Fiction Book Reviews

Contemporary Romance | Needlemouse | Jane O’Connor

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I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor.

Book cover Needlemouse by Jane O'Connor

Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor is published by Ebury and is available to purchase in digital, paperback and audiobook formats.

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 sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

A quirky, charming uplifting novel perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Sarah Haywood’s The Cactus.


It was a refreshing change to read a story with the main character aged over 50.  You might think we have life and all its challenges sussed when we get to that point in our lives but I’m bursting the bubble, it’s a myth. 🙂

Sylvia may come across as a self-obsessed bitch at first but as always, there is something driving that behaviour and it becomes clear why she is fixed on the unobtainable and misinterprets actions.  Having said that, I did think she either had a personality disorder or maybe she was on the autistic spectrum when you consider how she felt as a child/teen.  She did amuse me. But however you look at it, she is vulnerable.

I loved the hedgehog sanctuary and the snippets from Jonas’ ‘The Hedgehog Year.’  Sylvia’s humanity does come through with Jonas and this caused me to waver between disliking her and thinking she was actually ok.  This sub-plot in the story brought me tears of sadness.

You’ve got to love a resolution where everyone gets what they deserve.  I thought it was the perfect exit for Sylvia.

Needlemouse is a story of secrets, family fracture and redemption.  I think it shows us that we should be talking about our experiences in life so that we can get emotional support and not go on to make mistakes with far-reaching consequences.  Recommended!

Read an extract on the Penguin website

Jane O’Connor is a former primary school teacher turned academic and writer. She was born and brought up in Surrey and lived in London until she moved to the West Midlands in her mid-thirties. Jane’s PhD was about child stars and she is now a Reader at Birmingham City University where she researches children’s experiences of celebrity, media and everyday life. Jane lives in Sutton Coldfield with her husband and two young sons in a house full of pirates, dinosaurs, superheroes and lots of books. She really likes all animals, especially hedgehogs. Needlemouse is her debut novel.  Twitter @JaneOConnor100

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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