In Sally Hinchcliffe’s bewitching new novel Hare House, a woman decides to leave London when she loses her teaching job, and moves to a remote part of southwest Scotland. Renting a cottage on a scattered estate, she strikes up a friendship with her landlord Grant and his beguiling sister Cassandra. Soon she begins to realise that stories they share about their dead brother don’t add up, and things around the estate seem to appear and disappear in a blink of an eye. She starts to feel unsettled and to think she made a mistake in moving to this isolated place. As autumn turns to winter they are all trapped together in the big house following a snowstorm. Tensions rise and the truth finally reveals itself.

A perfect book get cosy with as the story unfolds in this beautiful, chilly and shifting landscape. Prepare to be gripped from the start!

Tell us about the bookshelves in your home.

I’m afraid I commit all the cardinal sins – my books are both randomly shelved AND double-stacked on the deeper shelves so I can never find the book I’m looking for, but I do often stumble across something interesting instead. I recently acquired three more bookcases from a friend which magically and instantly filled up with books from around the house. Unread books go on the teetering ‘to be read’ pile by my bed. I get quite anxious if I haven’t got at least three or four books waiting for me.

Which books are your most recent bookshelf additions? 

Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes, Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, Afropean by Johny Pitts and Diary of an MP’s Wife by Sasha Swire.

Do you judge people by their bookshelves?

I try not to! I always like to have a good nose at what they’ve got, but mainly to see if there’s something interesting I haven’t read.

Which is your most treasured book?

That’s a tough one. I have a copy of Breath which Tim Winton signed when we both took part in a radio programme when my first book came out. I’ve long admired his writing and he turned out to be lovely too, despite being extremely jetlagged. So it’s a both a great book and a happy memory.

What do your bookshelves say about you?

Hopefully that I have eclectic and interesting tastes, more probably that I need to put my books in some sort of order.

Double-stacked and piled on top. Photo courtesy of the author

What’s the oldest book on your shelf?

I had a rummage and found some ancient Penguins from the fifties (P.G. Wodehouse and Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons). I’d be worried about owning the kind of books that have to be handled with kid gloves though.

Do you rearrange your bookshelves often – and where do your replaced books go?

I usually only rearrange them to squeeze more in or if I’ve acquired more space. I used never to get rid of books but a couple of big house moves cured me of that. Now I keep books that I’ll want to read again, ones that I’ll want to lend out or give to others and ones that have been given to me as a gift. I also have some old friends that have been with me forever and I couldn’t bear to get rid of. The rest go to my local charity bookshop.

Do you have any books from your childhood on your shelf?

I was a big reader of detective fiction like Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers as a teen and some of those are still with me. They’re a great comfort read when you’re ill.

Book lender, book giver or book borrower?

All of the above! Although I try not to borrow books from people because I’m terrible at giving them back.

Whose bookshelves are you most curious about?

Anyone who’s interesting to talk to or who seems to have eclectic tastes. Among writers, probably Hilary Mantel – I bet she’s got an amazing collection of books.

Introduced and compiled by Sonia Weir


Sally Hinchcliffe graduated from Oxford with a First in PPE, and spent ten years working at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew before leaving London for southwest Scotland. Having completed the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck in 2004, her first novel Out of a Clear Sky was published by Macmillan in 2008 and is now available in Pan paperback. Hare House is out now in hardback, eBook and audio download from Mantle.
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Sonia Weir is a contributing editor to Bookanista. She started the Ultimate Reads and Recommendations Facebook group in December 2018, which now has 700 members from all over the world. The group is inclusive and aimed at every reader, no matter the books, authors or genre.
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