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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Dead Wife's Handbook
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2014
I was really looking forward to reading this.

The idea is intriguing - not entirely original but then it doesn't necessarily need to be for me to enjoy the book; the cover was beautiful. I started reading with anticipation, very excited. But I was disappointed from the outset. It was one of those books where I had to put real effort in to continue. I didn't relate to the main character Rachel at all, only very slightly with her husband Max and only a little more with her daughter Ellie.

I felt it was all very predictable: grieving husband determined not to meet anyone else then falls completely in love with Eve; Rachel not keen on this to start with but then understanding and accepting when she realises her family left behind need to move on. I just didnt feel drawn into their turmoil and emotional journey and this was my biggest disappointment.

I found I could skim read pages at a time of Rachel wallowing in pity and still keep up with the story. It was so self indulgent.

The idea of Rachel being suspended in white space by herself didnt work for me, it was a bit too much like trying to create a film script.

I follow Hannah Beckerman on Twitter and enjoy her tweets but sorry Hannah, this one was not for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2014
I want to apologies now for my honesty, because I've never been so uncomfortable reading a book before. Don't get me wrong, it was a beautifully written imaginative book, but the subject matter didn't sit well with me. I guess it's from my own perceptions of death which is why I had a problem with it, but maybe that was part of the point of the book, to force you to look at things you wouldn't look or think of before. It's a book that will certainly stay with me. It took me a long time to finish it because I was dreading reading it, though I needed to get to the end as I don't like not finishing a book. There was no happy ending for the main character (which is my issue because I like happy endings), not in the conventional sense anyway, and it felt like I was witnessing her husband betraying her. I know its all so irrational but it was certainly a very different book to one I've read before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2015
I decided – somewhat selfishly – to read The Dead Wife’s Handbook. I have a mountain of review books waiting for me to bust my way through but I have been desperate to read this book since I bought it many moons ago. I’m really glad that I took the time to do so because it is wonderful.

Admittedly, I didn’t quite find my groove with The Dead wife’s Handbooks as quickly or as easily as I normally do with books, however, once I did it was a hard one to put down.

Beckerman explores the theme of loss and death in an unusual way. She tells the whole story from the perspective of a dead person – some writers have done this before however I found that the way Beckerman approached the concept to be quite unique. Whereas it is usually those that are left behind after the death of a loved one that go through the stages of grief, Beckerman positions her protagonist Rachel – the recently deceased – as the person going through that process.

What Beckerman manages to do rather successfully is make you ache with longing for the character. We know from the get go that Rachel cannot have the happy ending that is the norm for a leading character and when we see people infringing on her life and taking over where she left off we get incensed as much as Rachel does. Then we are hit with the opposing feeling of longing for her husband Max – is he supposed to spend his whole life in mourning? And what about Rachel’s daughter, Ellie? How is someone so young meant to cope with the crappy hand that life has dealt her?

Seriously, you go through so many emotions reading The Dead Wife’s Handbook that it is hard to work out how you are meant to feel and that is a credit to Beckerman’s writing.

In what could be mistaken for a sad miserable story (based on basic knowledge of the content) comes a rather wonderful and strangely uplifting story about death.

The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman is available now.

You can follow Hannah Beckerman (@hannahbeckerman) on Twitter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2015
I stumbled across this book on a blog recommendation via Twitter, and I'm so glad I did. First of all, the cover is beautiful! In terms of the story, I found it incredibly emotional. There were sections where I had tears in my eyes - a very rare thing for me when it comes to books. True, some of the storyline felt predictable but it's so well written and I liked how it use the five stages of grief to relate to the deceased (Rachel) instead of just the bureved.

The characters were very well drawn out, and all totally identifiable. I particularly liked Ellie. At just seven years old she sounded more like an adult and thoroughly convincing.

In summary, it's not a cheery read, but it's a damned good one and highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2014
No idea how this book has managed to obtain so many five star reviews! It is repetitive and boring. I'm halfway through and it's like treading in treacle! I will finish it but probably skim most pages. Disappointing as the book started with so much promise!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2014
a bit predictable, read it but found it a bit repetitive and tedious at times.left me a bit maudlin too
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2014
I didn't cry whilst reading this, but the story was truly compelling and a very original one. It's hard to imagine how life can continue should your loved one depart prematurely, but this book asks you to consider just that and it's handled very sensitively and realistically (from the point of view for those still alive, at any rate!) I cannot say any more without giving too much away......
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2014
2 stars for this story from beyond the grave.
This dead wife got on my nerves. Irritating, detailed descriptions of female outfits· Over use of word 'munchkin' (daughter's pet name).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Rachel has died suddenly, leaving behind a husband and child. She continues to look down on her family, as they grieve and move on.

This was such a difficult read for me. It brought back too many memories of my Dad's death and how I felt as a child. It completely impacted on how I viewed the book.

I felt very uncomfortable reading about Rachel and how she resented the living making a new life, without her. I've always got a great deal of comfort from believing our loved ones want us to continue to be happy, even without them. At times, I felt quite sick hearing of Rachel's jealousy and selfishness. I found it hard to relate to her because of it. Surely if you love people, you want them to move on from the trauma of death and be happy again?

I had an issue with the daughter, Ellie. She was continually called various pet names, 'sweetheart' being the least annoying. It was too over the top. I would have preferred her to be portrayed as a more rounded child, rather than stereotyped as being perfect. Every character made excuses for what I perceived as bratty behaviour. I found the way her father explained everything to her totally unrealistic. In my experience, children do not have every single thing spelled out for them. They just have to cope with change and adjust.

I love that the theme of death and coming to terms with death is used. I've often thought that it's important these issues are talked about more in our culture. Death is such a taboo and it's a fascinating subject. My experience of it is that people do not continually talk about the person who has died, like Max did with his daughter.

Overall it felt quite traumatic and uncomfortable to read. I loved Eve the most, out of all of the characters. I just disliked the over analytical side to it. It didn't seem realistic to me. Death is more chaotic. This is one of those books that we bring all of our past experiences to and frame it in reference to them. I suspect that my response to this book comes from comparisons with my childhood and how my family reacted. I remember believing my Dad was continuing to watch over me and love me from a distance. I'm very sure my Dad would not have been anything like Rachel. I urge caution if deciding to read this book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2014
This is the story of the sudden, untimely demise of Rachel from a fatal cardiac arrhythmia, the journey through grief that Rachel and her family must take. This is a unique story with an interesting concept of a beyond the grave "netherworld" from where Rachel is granted "access" to view the family and friends she left behind, and see how they cope with her death and ultimately move on with their lives. Nicely based on the seven stages of grief identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross - shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, acceptance - not only from the perspective of Rachel's family but also, interestingly, from Rachel's perspective as well. It's message is a potentially profound one, but, for me, it fell disappointingly flat. I keenly felt Rachel's abject loneliness being trapped alone in the "whiteness" of the netherworld, and her helplessness bearing witness to new relationships and life she so desperately still wants to be part of, moving on without her; and I liked the overall message of the book - of love being our greatest legacy, but everything in between felt devoid of real feeling and the characters (with the exception of Rachel) lacked any credible or believable substance. It was all a bit too "chick lit" for me - not my cup of tea I'm sorry to say.
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