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The Things We Never Said [Paperback]

Susan Elliot-Wright
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 May 2013
In 1964 Maggie wakes to find herself in a psychiatric ward, not knowing who she is or why she has been committed. She slowly begins to have memories of a storm and of a man called Jack and slowly the pieces of the past begin to come together...In 2008 Jonathan is struggling to put his differences with his parents aside to tell them he and his wife are expecting a baby, when a detective arrives to question him about crimes committed long ago...And as these two tales interweave, the secrets of the past, long kept hidden, start to come to light in unexpected and sometimes startling ways. The Things We Never Said is a powerful novel about fatherhood and motherhood; nature and nurture; cruelty and kindness; and mental breakdown. Written in beautiful, compelling prose, it is by turns revealing, witty and moving.

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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: 18.8 x 12.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,238 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accomplished first novel. 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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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable! 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good dual time frame story 13 July 2014
By Nicola in South Yorkshire TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 30 Jun 2013
By june
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written, emotional story. Couldn't put it down! Bought tears to my eyes more than once, and I actually cried at the end, not many books have done that to me! recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy and enjoyable summer read 20 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel is the old familiar story of how an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy can change the shape of lives and lives to come. I found it to be an easy and enjoyable read, but no more than that. Comparisons to Margaret Forster and Maggie O Farrell are more than a little bit misleading - this book does not stand up to that comparison and readers choosing on that basis are likely to be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 18 Mar 2014
This is a truly great book. Sometimes books which have two or more threads do not gel, not here though. Beautifully joined together, the threads in this join seamlessly. Stories with subject matter as this can be dull and dark but this is a warm book written with a knowledge and understanding that many will relate to. I didn't want this to end, but it does, and perfectly so.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I Like Her Observations
I enjoyed this and would certainly read her again but it lost a star for me due to a few niggling mistakes and the oft-repeated descriptions of fires and fireplaces which grew... Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Such a interesting read and really thought provoking.
Published 5 days ago by Jemma Westwood
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a down to earth novel about normal people ...
This was a down to earth novel about normal people and how a small turn can drastically change your life. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Wendy
5.0 out of 5 stars a real page turner,beautifully told story
Liked the parallel stories,really felt for the characters,gave great insight into depression, and treatments then and now,well researched,a real page turner
Published 8 days ago by wattys60
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been a good book but didn't find it good overall
Could have been a good book but didn't find it good overall.Some parts of the book were better than others but I was disappointed with it.
Published 8 days ago by Ginny
4.0 out of 5 stars Bargain boik
Loved this book couldn't put it down
Published 10 days ago by jacqui smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good well worth the read
Published 17 days ago by bill wright
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
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