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Talking to the Dead

Talking to the Dead [Kindle Edition]

Helen Dunmore
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Thrilling...a book to read in one enthralled sitting (The Times)

Helen Dunmore is a writer of quiet, deadly power...this is taut, committed writing at its best, and it takes about two paragraphs to hook you. Don't resist (Daily Mail)

Talking to the Dead flies off the page, startling the reader with its brilliance (Financial Times)

This is a memorable and assured work (Sunday Times)

Product Description

Talking to the Dead is bestselling author Helen Dunmore's fourth novel.

There's nothing closer than sisters . . .

Unloved by their distant mother, Isabel and Nina cemented their bond in childhood when tragedy struck the family. Many yeas later, with the difficult birth of Isabel's first child, it is Nina who comes to stay and help out her older sister. But Nina has other, important reasons for being under her sister's roof - not least of these is Isabel's husband, Richard.

The tragedy that drew two sisters together so many years ago still has the power to wrench them apart . . .

'A writer of quiet deadly power . . . it takes two paragraphs to hook you. Don't resist' Time Out

'Dunmore's capacity for hauntingly psychological storytelling is on brilliant display' Sunday Times

'Flies off the page, startling the reader with its brilliance' Financial Times

Helen Dunmore has published eleven novels with Penguin: Zennor in Darkness , which won the McKitterick Prize; Burning Bright; A Spell of Winter, which won the Orange Prize; Talking to the Dead; Your Blue-Eyed Boy; With Your Crooked Heart; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002; Mourning Ruby; House of Orphan; Counting the Stars and The Betrayal, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010. She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 311 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 Oct 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI91W6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,573 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Many mysteries 6 Sep 2011
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Dunmore's fourth novel is a delicately chilling tale of two sisters. Photographer Nina lives in London, has a successful career and loves cooking and sex. Isabel (we never quite find out what her career was, if she had one) is an elegant housewife living in Sussex, who devotes her time to creating the perfect house and garden, suffers from a mild form of anorexia, but has what on the surface appears to be a wonderful marriage to a slightly older economist. The sisters share memories of a childhood when they were incredibly close, and of their baby brother, who mysteriously died when he was three months old. When Isabel gives birth to a baby boy, Nina goes to stay with her in Sussex and help care for her throughout the blisteringly hot summer. Seemingly without planning anything, Nina begins an affair with Isabel's husband, Richard, causing tension to begin in the household. She also begins to brood more and more on her brother's death, all those years ago. Was it cot death, or was Colin killed? And if so, who was the killer? Why does Nina think she remembers Isabel standing by his cot the morning he died? The novel takes up elements of the thriller as Nina tries to uncover her memories of the past. But how reliable a narrator is she?

As always with Dunmore, this is a beautifully written piece of fiction. The descriptions of the hot Sussex landscape, and of Southern Cornwall where Isabel and Nina grew up, are beautiful.There are also some wonderful descriptions of food. The dialogue is also very convincing, even though some of Nina and Richard's exchanges can seem a little stilted (one is never quite sure what has prompted these two to start their affair). And the relationship between Isabel and Nina, so different and yet so close, is a fascinating one.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisting, teasing, tantalising 10 May 2010
By Mrs. Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Wow this book is a stunner. You keep thinking you've got the answer, then - all changes - but - at the very end the absolute truth revealed... Delicious, dreamy descriptions of dinners, dusky gardens, dangerous attractions. Wonderfully written, these people jump off the page ready formed and truly real. Read it all in one go on a hot sunny day, in a garden. The answer to everything lies in the last sentence which you wouldn't understand if you jump to it a moment before!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the fourth of Helen Dunmore's novels, first published in 1996, and the first of her works to be published in North America. The narrator, Nina, a not very committed artist and photographer, visits her older sister, Isabel, who is recovering from physical and mental problems after the birth of her first child, Antony. Isabel and her husband, Richard, a globe-trotting economist, are renting a large house in the countryside near Brighton which also brings together Edward, Isabelle's gay confidant, and the nanny, Sarah, whose family lives nearby, who has also been hired to support Isabelle and Antony.

The events described in the book takes place under a boiling sun which is consistent with the behaviour of Nina, who has had "19, or 20, lovers" and who immediately begins an affair with Richard, perhaps to spite her sister who is three years older. However, Dunmore's style is rather cool which does not match the stifling events of the novel very well.

Nina and her sister were brought up in a rather strange household by their mother, a successful potter, and father, a much-less-successful poet with a drink problem, which suffered from the loss of their baby brother, Colin, who died in his cot when only a few months old. As the book develops we find that each of the sisters have a very different memory of Colin's death and the author cleverly plays with the reader's sympathies for each of the sisters in turn.

Other experiences of their childhood are revealed in flashbacks and through Nina's nightmares which clearly show that the sisters had, and still have, a very troubled relationship.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Talking to the Dead 10 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The story keeps you guessing as to who has the psychological problems - two sisters with issues from their past. It could be both!After finishing reading the book many weeks ago I still question the 'truth' in the actions of the protagonists.
A good read and very suitable for a book group discussion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Dunmore's best 28 Nov 2011
The actual plot of Talking to the Dead is not anything particularly new. The main protagonist Nina visits her sister Isabel to help out after the difficult birth of Isabel's baby. The novel then has the set up of two sisters, family secrets, set during a hotter than average Summer, secrets which threaten to wrench them apart etc etc. Despite the familiar set up though I could not put this book down.

There are a lot of dark themes running throughout the book and the two sisters Nina and Isabel are not particularly likeable (in fact almost hateful) but I was desperate to know what happened next and the writing conjured up a wonderfully tense atmosphere.

I'm not giving much away but I will say that the plot had me guessing right up to (and I'm not exaggerating) the last sentence. This novel is disturbing and at times I was shocked by events but it is also additively intriguing.

"Slowly, slowly, I push open the door of Susan's room. I make no sound. The pale curtains are drawn, and the room smells of the new pine furniture, and baby sleep. He is rosy with the heat, his hair damp, his fist up to his face. He is sleeping on his side, and Isabel has put a rolled up towel beside him so he can't turn onto his face. I creep right up to the cot. His weight dents the mattress. He looks more solid than I've ever seen him. Already he's changing, filling out, and that fist by his face looks strangely mature."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing book, atmospheric and evocative as well as ...
An absorbing book, atmospheric and evocative as well as unsettling. Helen Dunmore's style is slightly cruel, brutally truthful and always refreshing. Read more
Published 8 days ago by LindaK
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Chas
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing
I really was drawn into this story, very well written and great description with a plot that draws you in and keep you page turning
Published 10 months ago by Lainy
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Helen Dunmore has never yet disappointed this book makes you stop and think sad but worth reading I loved it.
Published 12 months ago by Mrs. Jane A. Leach
4.0 out of 5 stars Erotic
A clever, interesting and moving book with a surprising number of erotic scenes. I am a big fan of Helen Dunmore and have enjoyed everything I have read so far by her.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs Mary B Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly despite a lovely start this book left me feeling somehow...
It is such a shame that a book that had so many good things about it left me feeling quite disgusted by the end and I vowed never to read this author again. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Victoria
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, sensuous, enigmatic...
This was the first Dunmore I read, many years ago, and I have re-read it with increasing pleasure and admiration twice since then. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Bookhead
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I found it very engrossing and beautifully written but I didn't like the ending. It left me feeling rather depressed and I decided not to read her books again for a while.
Published 21 months ago by Susan Maddox
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