Comes the Night by Hollis Hampton-Jones

25th Jul 2011

Comes the Night by Hollis Hampton-Jones

Vicious Spring, the 2003 debut novel Tennessee author Hollis Hampton-Jones, was labelled “a little bit American Beauty, a little bit Catcher in the Rye” by no less than The Observer.

Her second novel, Comes the Night, claims comparisons with equally iconic authors, with publishers Penguin dubbing it “The Bell Jar meets The Virgin Suicides.”

That’s an ambitious claim for a novel featuring spoilt American teenage twins playing at Parisian living, incestuous undertones and a narrator dabbling in drugs, casual sex and an eating disorder.

It could be tempting to dismiss Comes the Night as taboo-by-numbers, an intoxicating cocktail of Xanax, vin de Bordeaux, sex and silences with a seething subtext of jealousy and insecurity.

But while bratty nineteen-year-old Meade may irritate with her continual obsessing over her twin brother Ben Ho and the contents of her stomach, her experiences are recounted with such gorgeous languages and imagery that all is soon forgiven.

Eyes are like ink-blots and bridges are “stitches the bind the gash that cuts Paris in half.” By turns beautiful and uncomfortable, Comes the Night is a story of alienation, detachment and deterioration.

Drawing from her own experiences as a model in Paris, Hollis Hampton-Jones deftly describes Meade’s immersion into the fashion industry and her turbulent affair with her photographer in stark, cinematic style.

While often unsettling and on occasion more about style than substance, Comes the Night is a haunting and vivid book, by an author I’ll be watching with interest.

Published by Penguin later this week, you can pre-order it in paperback for £8.09, or get the Kindle edition for £4.49.

Can’t wait that long? We’ve got a copy of Comes the Night to give away. To be in with a chance to win, leave us a comment on this post and we’ll choose a winner next Monday 8th August.

Rating: 3/5. It may not be The Bell Jar or The Virgin Suicides, but it is bold, brave and beautifully written.

Recommended for: Fans of Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore or Michelle Tea.

Other recommended reading: For rich lyrical language recounting dark and decadent tales of the fashion industry, read Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica. For dreamy descriptions of an obsessive sibling relationship set in Paris, try twins Théo and Isa in Gilbert Adair’s The Dreamers, or Isabel and Rocco by Anna Stothard.

Jane Bradley


  • Rhiannon says:

    Ooh I’d like to enter please. Looks interesting!

  • Emma says:

    Great review. This book definitely sounds like my kind of thing!

  • lucy lowe says:

    I’d have to say, that this had better be good, cos ‘The Virgin Suicides’ is hard to beat. If I win, I’ll also review it.

  • Grace says:

    I would love to win this book!

  • Sian says:

    Oooh, it sounds good! I’d also like to win because I can’t quite make out all of the swirly writing on the front cover.

  • Kate says:

    I look forward to reading this!

  • Sue says:

    Sounds great. A lot of my friends found The Bell Jar depressing but I tended to think it was more about hope. I’m very excited to read this novel!

  • Reeca says:

    Wow!! Sounds great!! Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Charlie says:

    Am captured by this review! Looking forward to reading this one!

  • Jen says:

    I have just finished reading Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen (amazing, harrowing) so I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to read another novel that even mentions eating disorders again, but I’m willing to give it a go.

  • Anna Hobson says:

    Sounds like a great read!

  • mrs howell says:

    i love to win this book, sounds good !

  • kiran says:

    This is not my usual type of book, but I came across a snippet of a review in my tv guide and it provoked some interest. To be honest, I am sick of all the traditional chick-lit where girl meets boy who turns out to be the wrong boy and then falls in love with the perfect boy who has been waiting for her all along. It makes my stomach turn. This looks really interesting, I haven’t read any of her books before, but from reviews I get that the author writes very descriptively, which is good because sometimes a novel can have the best plot in the world but be spoilt by simply tragic writing. Oh and I would really like to win, I am broke, but to be on the safe side I am requesting this from my local library. That is dedication 😀