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The Things We Never Said Paperback – 23 May 2013

262 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (23 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471102327
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471102325
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Passionate, intriguing and beautifully written, The Things We Never Said deserves to stand on the shelf next to Maggie O'Farrell's books. A powerful and talented new voice' Rachel Hore, bestselling author of A Gathering Storm and A Place of Secrets

'This is a staggeringly accomplished first novel, perfectly paced. It sweeps you up from the very first page and doesn't let you go until the end. The hauntingly nostalgic tale of the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy in the 60s, it has echoes of Lynn Reid Banks and Margaret Forster. You could almost smell the boarding house and feel the cold of an unforgiving winter as aspiring actress Maggie faces up to some brutal choices that will affect her for the rest of her life. The ensuing trauma is entwined with a very modern tale of marriage, impending fatherhood and the perils of the workplace in twenty-first-century Britain. The two stories dovetail to perfection. It's both deeply moving and uplifting - an emotional rollercoaster. If you love Maggie O'Farrell, you'll love this' Veronica Henry, bestselling author of The Long Weekend

'A brave and moving story about how much can be lost and what happens next. A compelling and impressive debut' Alison Moore, author of the Booker-shortlisted The Lighthouse

'Two intertwined stories explore a past filled with terror and grief, and a heart-breaking present, in writing as smooth and bittersweet as fine dark chocolate' Jane Rogers, author of the Booker-longlisted The Testament of Jessie Lamb

'Tightly-woven and tender, The Things We Never Said is a beautifully crafted story that explores harsh family secrets with effortless clarity. A wonderful debut' Isabel Ashdown, award-winning author of Glasshopper

'I was swept along by Elliot Wright's assured storytelling' Katie Ward, author of Girl, Reading

'Compelling and deeply moving... this is superb storytelling which transports the reader with ease between past and present, across a gulf of fifty years, while gradually revealing the connection between the two. I couldn't put it down' Jane Rusbridge, author of The Devil's Music

A powerful and compelling read about how the past shapes us' The Sun --The Sun

About the Author

Susan Elliot Wright grew up in Lewisham in south-east London, left school at 16 and married unwisely at eighteen. She didn't begin to pursue her childhood dream of writing until she left her unhappy marriage and went to university at the age of 30. After gaining a degree in English, she decided to choose a new name, and began flicking through the phonebook for ideas. She settled on Elliot and changed her name by deed poll. Then she met 'Mr Right' (actually, Mr Wright) to whom she is now happily married. She has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, where she is now an Associate Lecturer.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By misty meanor on 28 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This had my attention from the first few pages, and I read it to the end in one sitting - very late night! We are involved with Maggie's rehabilitation from a nervous breakdown in the '60s, gradually learning her story as she regains snippets of information about herself. Running alongside Maggie's story is that of Jonathan and Fiona who are expecting their first child, but whose life seems to be imploding. Just as things look as though they can't get any worse for them, a police man turns up to ask Jonathan about his father. The author skilfully controls the development of her characters and the release of information so that the reader is working things out at about the same time as the characters, The descriptive writing is excellent, particularly when dealing with the boarding house and rooms that Maggie and the theatrical troupe use; the 60s attitude towards sex, abortion and unwed mothers is also well captured. If you want a lazy holiday read then this might not be it, but if you want something to keep your attention and make you think, then I recommend this very highly.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By ElaineG TOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an absolutely superb read. It is a story told in two halves with each chapter alternating between the two strands of the story, which then eventually dovetail together.

The first story is that of Maggie, who we first meet as a mental health patient in 1964. Maggie has no recollection of her life before entering the hospital and her story is divulged as she slowly starts to remember when we find out that she has had to make some very brave decisions which will affect her and others for a long time to come. It is not a pretty read, the events that brought her to this point in life and her treatment in hospital are very moving and quite harrowing at times.

The second story is that of Jonathan and takes place 40 years on. We meet him at a time when everything is going wrong in his life including, but not exclusively, problems at work and his father's death and the strain everything is putting on his marriage have really brought him to a low point. The only thing he has to look forward to is the birth of his first child. There are times in the book where you feel that he isn't getting the support he needs from his wife Fiona, but as a pregnant woman she has her own set of priorities. As the book says, when a woman is pregnant, she is the most important person in the world so when, on top of everything else, an unexpected visitor arrives with some quite shocking news that will have far reaching implications for Jonathan, he really feels he is on his own.

As I read the book, moving towards the point where the two stories meet up, I could appreciate how well the author had plotted this suspense filled story, which is very unusual, poignant and thought provoking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicola in South Yorkshire VINE VOICE on 13 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a dual time frame novel set in the 1960s and in 2008/9. Maggie is in a mental institution but has no memory of what has happened to her or why she is there. We get insights into her story alongside the story of Jonathan, a teacher in 2008 whose wife is pregnant. He has a difficult relationship with his parents and has never known why.

As the story unfolds we start to learn of the links between Maggie and Jonathan in alternating chapters. This is an easy book to read, and one which I found myself getting through quite quickly. There are comparisons with Maggie O'Farrell and I would agree that the style is similar. Maggie's story reminded me of O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

I really enjoyed this book. Parts were set in Sheffield where I'm from, so I liked that although it was not recognisable as the city apart from some very broad accents. The parts in the mental institution were sad to read, as people were not treated well in those establishments in the past. I'm not giving anything away by saying that Maggie finds herself pregnant and unmarried and I do think that people would have treated her less sympathetically in those days than is portrayed in the book, but that's my only real criticism.

A good tale and I liked the way it unfolded.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Sheila C on 30 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book as an inexpensive holiday read, but was soon deeply imbedded in the lives of the characters. Fascinating how the two stories start to merge and I was an emotional mess, but in good way, for the last third of the book. It's been a long time since a book has moved me to tears. Excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
The Things We Never Said is a story told in two voices and during the prologue the reader finds themselves in 2009 on a cold, wet and windy day. This is a gentle introduction, with flash backs to the past that really sets the pace for the story that follows.

The first voice of the story is Jonathan; a teacher, a father-to-be. Jonathan is a complex and worried character, his memories of childhood are not happy, he is struggling to know how to tell his ageing and controlling father that he is to be a grandfather. Jonathan's world changes beyond recognition, it happens so fast, with work problems and family issues, a visit from a policeman who is investigating crime that were committed over forty years ago is a huge shock, and one that will change his past, and his future.

The story goes back to 1964; Maggie is a confused and scared woman, she's locked up in a psychatric hospital, taking tablets, undergoing electric shock treatment. Maggie cannot remember why she is there, what happened to her? One small incident sparks off the beginning of Maggie's recollections, and as she gradually remembers her past, the reader accompanies her on her painful and traumatic journey.

At first, it is difficult to see how Maggie and Jonathan's lives can be connected, but as Susan Elliot Wright gently and carefully relays their individual stories, the links between them are uncovered.

The Things We Never Said is elegantly intriguing, the writing is passionate and authentic, the characters have flaws, yet are so very human. The sharp contrasts between the 1960s and the present day are clear, and fit together quite perfectly.
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