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Without Alice Paperback – 16 Aug 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Punked Books (16 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953317269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953317264
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,727,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

D. J. Kirkby is a registered midwife. At the age of 40, she was diagnosed with a form of Autism called Asperger's Syndrome, in addition to Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. Her memoir, From Zaftig to Aspie, was published in 2008, and she has had short stories published in several anthologies. She was a monthly columnist for FMA-UK magazine, and is now their midwifery expert on pregnancy and childbirth.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Debs Carr on 7 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
The blurb for Without Alice starts with these sentences, `Have you ever had a secret? One so important that it feels as if it will tear you in two?' Well that caught me straight away, and there's one thing for sure, Stephen really does have a secret.

I started reading this book when I'd already done seven hours editing, so my eyes were pretty sore, but I thought I'd have a peak and read the first page or two. I eventually stopped approximately half way through the book, simply because my eyes couldn't keep going and it was 1am.

Without Alice begins with a prologue telling us about three different couples in July 1977, who are all at varying stages of parenthood. We then begin with Jennie having just given birth to her son, and almost straight away you realize that her relationship with husband, Stephen, isn't a harmonious one. As much as he instinctively adores his baby son, he isn't happy with Jennie. Stephen has a secret. It's a big secret, and one that causes him heartache, as well as a crushing resentment towards his wife.

Stephen's verbal cruelty to this new mother is vicious. Jennie has enough to contend with already. She's exhausted, and trying to get to grips with the strangeness of her post-baby physique, as well as wanting to enjoy her first precious days, weeks, and months with her baby. The last thing she needs is to be made miserable by her husband.

As you read through the first half of the book, it's hard to find much about Stephen to sympathize with, but as the reality of his secret is learnt you can't help but want him to be okay. I'm still struck by that startling moment when the reader discovers more about his situation and gets to know Alice.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By ARL on 2 July 2011
Format: Paperback
"Without Alice" is an engrossing story told with compassion and sincerity. It has some unexpected and heart-wrenching twists, and while in the early part of the book you may find it difficult to feel any sympathy for the lead male character, the second half may change your mind. The prologue details the circumstances around the birth in the same year of each of the three main protagonists, and gradually we learn more about the factors in their life that may govern, or at least explain their behaviour. Like other reviews have said, it's difficult to say too much about the plot without giving away major spoilers - best thing is to read it yourself!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lovely Treez TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
I have discovered some fabulous new (to me) authors via Twitter so I can testifiy that it's not all mundane tweeting about what folk have for dinner or outpourings of grief at news of the latest X Factor evictee! Via Caroline Smailes (whose excellent novel Like Bees to Honey I have reviewed here) I found out about D J Kirkby (Denyse) who has already written From Zaftig to Aspie, a memoir of her extremely colourful childhood and eventual diagnosis with Aspergers Syndrome at the age of 40. My son has Aspergers and although I've read a lot of non-fiction written by Aspies, Without Alice was my first encounter with an Aspie produced work of fiction. Folk on the "spectrum" are often considered to be quite rigid in their thinking, less able to deal with emotions so I guess I wanted Denyse to prove them all wrong!

The novel opens with the birth of Jennie and Stephen's son and it quickly becomes apparent that Stephen has a dark secret which would, if disclosed, signal an end to any relationship with his child. The author takes no pains to hide Stephen's complete lack of respect for Jennie and we wonder how on earth this couple ever got together in the first place. What follows is a slow reveal of Stephen's past which explains his current dilemna and the emotional void which cripples his existence. Of course, we are free to make up our own minds about Stephen and play the moral high ground judges if we so wish - the novel certainly makes you think how easily it is to get trapped by circumstances and to feel unable to act for fear of hurting others, indeed Stephen has procrastination down to a fine art!

The scenes involving childbirth and the aftermath are particularly true to life, perhaps not surprising given D J Kirkby's career as a midwife.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Eastman VINE VOICE on 31 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Within a very few pages, I was hooked, caught up in people's lives and sucked into their story, as if I were in the same room and living through it with them in real time. D.J. Kirkby's writing is extraordinary and dazzling. She works on every one of your senses: the world she creates feels so real that the characters are more like people you know whom you're eavesdropping.

D.J. does something remarkable in this, her debut novel. She makes her main character intensely unlikeable and sustains this for half the book. That's difficult for a reader to cope with and potentially disastrous in the hands of the wrong author. But D.J. has a light touch and handles it deftly. I knew from the blurb that I wasn't supposed to like Stephen initially ("meet a man who you will love to hate until...") but I was surprised at how strongly I raged against him throughout Part One. But I didn't throw the book at the wall or stop reading because, not only did I still want to know who Alice was and why she mattered so much to him, but I also had to know why he was behaving in this way to people I liked and sympathised with. There seemed no good reason for it.

D.J. drops the reader hints and clues along the way but she doesn't fully explain Stephen or his behaviour until Part Two. I had my theories as to what was behind it all and an idea as to who Alice was but I couldn't put the book down until I had the answers. Then I had to keep reading to find out if and how it would all be resolved.

Without Alice looks at the important relationships in our lives and raises questions about duty, loyalty and love within those same relationships.
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