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The Unseen [Paperback]

Katherine Webb
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

24 Nov 2011

England, 1911. When a free-spirited young woman arrives in a sleepy Berkshire village to work as a maid in the household of The Reverend and Mrs Canning, she sets in motion a chain of events which changes all their lives. For Cat has a past - a past her new mistress is willing to overlook, but will never understand . . .

This is not all Hester Canning has to cope with. When her husband invites a young man into their home, he brings with him a dangerous obsession...

During the long, oppressive summer, the rectory becomes charged with ambition, love and jealousy - with the most devastating consequences.

Frequently Bought Together

The Unseen + The Legacy + A Half Forgotten Song
Price For All Three: £19.41

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  • The Legacy £5.99
  • A Half Forgotten Song £5.99

Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (24 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409117170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409117179
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

KATHERINE WEBB was born in 1977 and grew up in Hampshire before reading History at Durham University. She has since spent time living in London and Venice, and now lives near Bath, UK. Having worked as a waitress, au pair, personal assistant, bookbinder, housemaid, library assistant and seller of fairy costumes, she is now a full-time writer. Her debut novel, The Legacy, won the popular vote for the TV Book Club Summer Read 2010 and was shortlisted for Best New Writer at the 2010 Galaxy National Book Awards. Her subsequent novels The Unseen, A Half Forgotten Song and The Misbegotten were all Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers, and her books have been translated into 26 languages around the world. The Night Falling, her fifth novel, is released in November 2014.

Product Description


Occult happenings, romantic passion and murder disrupt the peace of a Berkshire village in 1911 in this hauntingly good novel from the author of THE LEGACY (MARIE CLAIRE)

Really, truly outstanding (CHICKLITREVIEWS BLOG)

An atmospheric page-turner (Fanny Blake WOMAN & HOME)

This is an engrossing and totally convincing piece of storytelling, a perfect curl-up-by-the-fire read. (John Koski YOU MAGAZINE)

'A mixture of the occult, mysterious beings in the water meadows, love, ambition, jealousy - and murder - make this an exciting, engrossing book. (OXFORD TIMES)

Book Description

From the author of the acclaimed debut THE LEGACY comes a compelling tale of love, deception and illusion.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a gripping tale, unusual and atmospheric 23 Feb 2011
By L. Bretherton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I hadn't read "The Legacy", so had no idea what to expect from this book. It is very well-crafted indeed. Set in the long hot summer of 1911, as the country awaits the Coronation of George V, it follows the life of Catherine Morley, who is offered a place as a maidservant in the rectory of a sleepy Berkshire village. But Catherine has a secret past... The other main character is Hester, the vicar's naive young wife, who longs for a family of her own. Her life is disturbed by the arrival of Robin Durrant, a charismatic young man who is researching into possible sightings of 'water spirits' near the village. As the sultry heat continues, the characters' lives intertwine in a strange way... All of this is uncovered in modern times by Leah, a journalist who is researching the discovery of some letters found on the body of a soldier from the First World War...

I thought the book recreated the period very well, and the character of Cat is very well portrayed. I enjoyed the modern chapters too, I would have liked to see a couple of more of these, there seemed to be some very long sections in the narrative which needed a bit of relief.

I think the cover is a bit misleading, as this is not really a book about the supernatural in any form. It is a very enjoyable read, and will keep you occupied for a couple of days, as you try to guess the outcome of that long hot summer....
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner 29 Mar 2011
Katherine Webb's second novel is easily as good as her first. I loved it! A page turning plot, vivid characters and a wonderful evocation of the life and times of rural England in 1911. Put a repressed vicar, his naive wife, a handsome opportunist and a suffragette together and what do you get? It is a love story, a murder mystery and a criticism of women's rights or rather lack of them. It is also a story about the relationships and barriers between the classes and the sexes in the time before these began to crumble. Her descriptive prose is brilliant, you can feel the hot humid weather and see the mists rising of the water meadows, as well as smell the sweat of the taverns and sense the horrors in Cat's past. It is, in short, a very good read indeed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Bookwoman TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm surprised at all the glowing four and five star reviews for this book: I thought it was a solid three-star holiday read, quite enjoyable but not particularly original or memorable.
It uses one hoary old device, a story which unfolds after the discovery of a mysterious old letter, to launch another one - two parallel, alternating narratives set in past and present.
This time it's set in 2011 and 1911 (though mostly the latter) and tells the tale of a journalist investigating a body found on a WW1 battlefield, and its links to a strange set of events in an English country vicarage before the war. Leaning heavily on the true story of the Cottingley fairies fraud, it relies on the gradual build-up of atmosphere in an isolated house during a long, hot summer, as a new maid recovers from her imprisonment as a suffragette, and a sexually repressed young couple come under the spell of a guest with a dangerous obsession. Murder ensues, but not until page 324, which makes for a bit of a dull and repetitive read.
Unfortunately, as so often happens in these books set in past and present, the modern sections are a bit risible - beautiful young journalist escaping from unhappy relationship meets troubled yet handsome young man in the course of her inquiries ... we can all guess the rest. And if she'd been a better journalist and started her investigation in the archives of the local paper (it finally occurs to her to go to the library, but not until page 311), then this would have been a very short book!
There are sections describing the role of the more working-class suffragettes, and how the Cottingley fairies photographs could have been taken, which are very well done.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delectable Dichotomies 3 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Author Katherine Webb cleverly combines simplicity and complexity within `The Unseen' to present a troubling tale embracing superbly sublime dialogue as the telling takes precedence over the tale. In addition to specific insights of life in 1911, such as the suffragette movement, there is a general enlightening portrayal of the huge gulf between political, social and religious aspects of today and just a few generations ago. The story is divided between the 2 years of 1911 and 2011 as the author skilfully evokes unsavoury elements of life via inequality of the sexes, absence of human rights, hypocrisy of false values etc. This is achieved successfully by capitalizing on dichotomies: freedom and oppression, loyalty and treachery, ignominy and honour, ignorance and enlightenment, integrity and deceit, and love and hatred. In spite of characters perhaps lacking in credibility this results in a remarkably compelling story, and though the plot may be fairly predictable Katherine Webb's narrative prevails throughout as fascinating and captivating.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! 12 April 2011
By Nicola in South Yorkshire TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had previously read The Legacy by Katherine Webb and whilst I enjoyed it, I felt it was missing something. However, The Unseen definitely makes up for it, and then some. I thought it was an absolutely riveting read from start to finish.

It's the story of the vicar and his wife, Albert and Hester Canning, their new maid Cat Morley, and their new house guest, Robin Durrant. I loved Cat, she's such a strong-minded character, involved with the suffragette movement and so striking a blow for women everywhere. Her exchanges with the hugely overweight housekeeper, Mrs Bell, never failed to make me smile. Albert and Hester are newlyweds and very young, and Albert finds himself totally in thrall to Robin, a theosophist looking for elemental beings in the water meadows. The effect this young man has on the household is catastrophic.

The author manages to portray the stiflingly hot summer very well, and uses beautiful prose to describe the surroundings in the small village of Thatcham in Berkshire. I really had a strong sense of the area and how oppressed the characters felt.

There is a dual time narrative story, even though it's not mentioned in the synopsis. The main part of the story is set in 1911, but 100 years later in 2011 there is the story of Leah Hickson, a freelance journalist who is trying to find out the identity of a WWI solider.

This is an outstanding read. Towards the end every chapter appeared to be left on a cliffhanger, leaving me desperate to get back to it, and I felt quite moved by the end of it all. It's not a thriller (despite the murder), but it certainly thrilled me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Mystery or history ?
Another unusual book group choice. An interesting story, which I will not spoil by outlining. At first I thought it would be more of a time slip novel, but the 2011 sections are... Read more
Published 1 day ago by sy
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of money
bit rubbish, not slightly eerie or scary, waste of money
Published 4 days ago by Debbie
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Vicar's Seeing fairies..."
The Unseen is a fascinating book. It tells the story of Cat (also known as Black Cat – she has, possibly, Spanish antecedents). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Eileen Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This was my first book of Katherine Webb but will read more as they become available to me.
Published 2 months ago by Moira Currie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Katherine Webb weaves intricate tales full of mystery and tension, I read everything she writes !
Published 2 months ago by Miu miu Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really pleased Thank you
Published 2 months ago by stephen brickley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
it was a great story
Published 3 months ago by PAULA WATERFIELD
4.0 out of 5 stars quite enjoyable if a little strange
I read this along time ago. I really enjoyed it. It was a little strange but it was an interesting, if not strange, read.
Published 3 months ago by J. Acutt
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic page turner
Just finished this book and would highly recommend it. I have read 'The Legacy' which was as good. The author keeps you guessing to the end.
Published 4 months ago by florriel
4.0 out of 5 stars Page turner
Very enjoyable. I was absorbed throughout. Characters were interesting. It was slightly predictable towards the end. Not quite as good as the misbegotten
Published 4 months ago by Sarah
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