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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Julia past and present - a life full of guilt
I'm a big fan of Margaret Forster; she manages to write eloquently on a number of different subjects, this means that some topics will be more of interest than others. In The Unknown Bridesmaid the story revolves around a child psychologist, Julia which I found immensely readable.

The story is written from Julia's perspective both in the present day revolving...
Published 16 months ago by C. Bannister

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More unresolved guilt
I've often questioned if those who are haunted by demons are drawn to psychology; Julia seems to epitomise such a sufferer. Once again guilt is laid at the door of the mother. So there is nothing new about this plot. Usually I enjoy a novel which dips in and out of past and present but I found this rather too meandering. The children Julia saw as her patients were...
Published 1 month ago by Jane Baker


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Gem, 12 Jun 2013
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The Unknown Bridesmaid fits beautifully into the canon of Margaret Forster's work. The characters are well drawn and shaped by an era the author seems to know well; where emotions and feelings aren't acknowledged and the stoical upper lip is to the fore.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Julia, as told by Julia, 24 April 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Unknown Bridesmaid (Hardcover)
This is, I believe, the latest of Margaret Forsters' books, and is up to scratch with everything else I have ever read of hers. The author has an uncanny knack of taking what seem to be the most ordinary of circumstances and the most ordinary of people, and turning their story into a narrative which has the reader scrabbling to turn the pages and scan the words faster. You are, despite yourself, drawn boots and all into a Margaret Forster book, and find yourself living the life of at least one of the characters in the book.

In this book, as in many of Margaret Forsters', there is one strong protagonist from whose perspective much of the story is seen. Julia, at eight years of age, is asked to be bridesmaid for her cousin Iris. Iris' marriage and the aftermath is seen by us through Julia's eyes, and as the years go by, and Julia gets older, we see her life still through her perspective. But cutting back and forth between that section of the narrative, is a Julia some forty years older, who is, as we discover, working with troubled children. These children dip in and out of the narrative as they are seen in her work by Julia, and we never really get any resolution on their situations, but that's exactly how Julia's life seems to go, so again we live the narrative through Julia's perspective.

As the past catches up to the future, the threads of Julia's life become more evident to the reader, and we can see that the story is heading for - a confrontation? A revelation? Well, you have to read the story to find that out. This is a thought-provoking read, one that you find yourself thinking about long after you've turned the last page. Wonderfully engaging, beautifully written, and very thoughtful. Totally recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd really like to give it 4.5, 11 April 2013
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This review is from: The Unknown Bridesmaid (Hardcover)
I have always liked Margaret Forster and read this quickly. Other reviewers have commented on the fact that Julia is not a very likeable heroine, and I found that too, and she doesn't improve as she grows older. I liked the short accounts of her problem patients, though, as an retired counsellor, I wondered at the very short time she seemed to spend with each of them and at the apparently good results she achieved (though we never really hear what happens to any of her clients after she has seen them).

After I'd finished it I felt very disappointed, but I found myself thinking about the book for several days afterwards and I gradually revised my opinion of it and I now think it a good and insightful story of a very damaged child. Julia doesn't improve as she grows older - she has been too damaged in the past and she cannot change - but she is aware that she is damaged and she does the job she does because she hopes to stop other children going down the same path by offering help at a decisive time in their lives when it might help them to change the direction their lives are going in. Perhaps she doesn't need to spend long with them - she just needs to give them some alternatives. (And, of course, short term therapy would reflect our current financial pressures).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 July 2014
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An excellent read. Quite different from her previous work and keeps you guessing to the end.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Just not that interesting!, 19 May 2014
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A. E. Sellers - See all my reviews
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This story never really took off for me. At the end I was left wondering what it was all about. The central character was almost impossible to like, I just didn't understand why she behaved the way she did, there was no real reason to it. The story seemed to meander pointlessly at times. The main character, Julia, appeared to have no meaningful relationships at all in her life, which is odd. Reasonably well written but overall a disappointing book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Self Centred, 8 May 2014
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I find Margaret Forster writing style not dissimilar to that of Ian McKewan, and that is both a compliment and complaint. The central character is ultimately unlikeable and this makes for an uncomfortable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forster on top form, 11 April 2014
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Margaret Forster's novels are always worth reading, not least because each one is different -- she doesn't follow any kind of format. This book travels back and forth between the present, when the main character is a psychiatric social worker dealing with young girls judged to have social or behavioural problems, and a decade or two earlier, when she herself was growing up. Her relationship with her only cousin, a pretty, kind girl 8-10 years older, and her family are tainted by her reaction to their gestures of friendship. A thought-provoking and intriguing study of family relationships.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent read, 2 April 2014
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I thoroughly enjoy reading any Margaret Forster novel and this doesn't disappoint. The story is beautifully told, fluid intelligent prose yet a feeling of uncomfortable unease slowly unfolds as the book progresses. Her understanding of damaged lives lifts this book to a compelling read, I loved it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good book, 30 Mar 2014
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Ending was a bit disappointing, but very well written as you would expect from Margaret Forster. Subject matter was a bit heavy at times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another good read from M.F., 26 Mar 2014
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Adult Julia is a child pyschologist, The young Julia is a troubled only child. The teenage Julia is perverse and vindictive without being conscious of why she is being driven to be so. Her family are being kind and generous towards her and this seems to be making matters worse. Gratitude Julia WILL NOT feel. She also harbours worryng secrets from childhood. Margaret Forster in my opinion is one of Britains best. Have read just about everything that she has written over the years and have never been disappointed. Thank you Maragaret Forster. I would recommend any of your books.
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The Unknown Bridesmaid
The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster (Hardcover - 28 Feb 2013)
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