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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Family secrets can be deadly....

Newlyweds Dan and Bea decide to escape London. Driving through France in their beaten-up car they anticipate a long lazy summer, worlds away from their ordinary lives.

But their idyll cannot last. Stopping off to see Bea’s brother at his crumbling hotel, the trio are joined unexpectedly by Bea’s ultra-wealthy parents. Dan has never understood Bea’s deep discomfort around them but living together in such close proximity he begins to sense something is very wrong.

Just as tensions reach breaking point, brutal tragedy strikes, exposing decades of secrets and silence that threaten to destroy them all.

©2019 Sadie Jones (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Superbly written, each sentence punctuated by a drumbeat of menace.... A thrillingly good read." (Elizabeth Day)

"A twisty delight of a novel, a cracking page-turner that has much to say about modern life and our attempts to find a way to navigate it, no matter where we come from." (Cathy Rentzenbrink)

What listeners say about The Snakes

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Quite a nasty little tale!



I enjoyed reading Sadie Jones’s ‘The outcast’ (2008) some 10 years ago, and noted that today it was the only other novel of hers that Waterstones of Piccadilly had on the shelf.

The milieu of London, of death, the need to be credible and the compromises made or not; family pressures, urban regeneration, slum landlords - all these factors reminded me of my recent reading of Tessa Hadley’s latest novel ‘Late in the day’, and I note that Abigail Thaw also narrates the audible version of Hadley’s book.

Thaw’s reading is right on the money - and her characterization of the father Griff is particularly good.

So no plot spoilers but the slowish start winds into quite a nasty little tale - all very nicely done!

3 people found this helpful

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A very good listen

Kept my interest throughout but if I were to be picky I thought the first 2/3 were very realistic and natural while the ending seemed
contrived and rushed. But well worth a listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Read something else!

Pointless! I stuck with this book as it was recommended by Richard & Judy's Spring Book Club 2020, having read 4 others from the collection I had high hopes. This one failed in comparison. A real shame!
The book falls flat about a quarter of the way in and I couldn't make up my mind whether to stick or let go, letting go would have been the best thing to do.

2 people found this helpful

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An intriguing story.

This was a very cleverly constructed story about a toxic, dysfunctional family and how excessive wealth and power corrupts and influences even the most rational of people.

Bea Durrant is the daughter of a dodgy property tycoon who made his money through being a slum landlord. Her mother is a self-obsessed, abusive, narcissist who has subjected one of her sons to gross levels of abuse, which Bea witnessed as a small child. She escaped her family and rejected their money and belief systems, choosing to work in a worthy but poorly paid job. She is married to Dan, a man from the opposite end of the financial and social spectrum. Bea is happy with him, believing that they are making their way in life in an honest and straightforward way. But whilst Bea is content, Dan is unsettled and wants more from life than a steady, unsatisfying job and a small ‘cushion’ of savings.

When Bea and Dan decide to take some time out from work and go travelling, their first stop is a visit to Bea’s troubled, ex-addict brother Alex who is renovating a small provincial hotel in rural France. But very quickly it becomes apparent that all is not well. Why are there no guests, why are the rooms named after the seven deadly sins and why is the attic full of snakes? When Bea’s parents arrive at the hotel, her old dissatisfactions rise to the surface and her instinct is to protect her brother. But when Alex is found dead after failing to return home from carrying out an errand for their father, a mystery is set in motion.

The title of the book is a very clever one. Do the snakes refer to the reptiles in the attic or to Bea’s family? And what will her family’s toxic influence do to Dan? Add an unhelpful, unresponsive, possibly racist local police force to the mix and you have a wonderful novel, filled with possibilities. The narrative starts off as an exploration of a family and abuse and then turns into a murder mystery. It is a clever mix and the author pulls it off very well. My only criticism is that the ending was very, very unsatisfactory for me. If this novel could be described in terms of goodies and baddies, the goodies definitely got a raw deal.

Abigail Thaw did a wonderful job on the narration.

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating

This book was very well written and the psychology behind the characters was spot on. It held me throughout until the very end. I think it’s one of the best narrators I’ve heard and the story is strong. I can’t recommend it enough.

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irritating

Started off great. Got to the point where the author tries to vilify political views she disagrees with in an inane way and went straight off it. Either engage with politics in an interesting and substantial way in fiction, or just stick to writing an interesting story.

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Spoilt by ending

What a pity - this is a case of a book of two halves. It’s like two separate books have been put together. The first two thirds are really special, interesting, fascinating and suddenly the plot doesn’t fit. So disappointing . The editor should be shot. The performance and writing are good, it just doesn’t make a single book.

1 person found this helpful

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Wow

What an ending!!!! Not much sleep that night! Addictive, intensely moving. More please! A well told - perfectly spoken to heighten the emotion. A must listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Chilling family narrative

Keenly observed and chilling tale of a dysfunctional family and the slow-drip impact of sin. The story is horrifying partly because it is told with such forensic, detached calm. Utterly absorbing. I liked the narration too.

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good story but terrible ending

Good story but terrible ending. felt very invested in the characters and found the ending quite traumatic.