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4.5 out of 5 stars
What You Don't Know
Format: HardcoverChange
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2011
Lizzie Enfield has created a touching and thought-provoking book, which really seems to get inside the minds and hearts of the characters. What You Don't Know brings to life the trials and tribulations of getting older and wondering if life might be passing you by.

Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
To the outside world, Helen has everything a gorgeous acting husband Alex, two perfect children Emma and Jo, a job as a journalist that she enjoys so why does she threaten to risk it all.

Meeting Graham Parks an ex-Army soldier when interviewing him regarding his book, Helen suddenly starts to feel things that she has never felt before. Why does she feel this way about a plain looking, balding man who is everything that her husband is not? Thoughts start to come and go, and the book is devoted to this will she give in and find out if things could be different after all this time.

I found the book very much a book of thoughts. It was if we were in Helen's mind as she went over all the ifs, buts and maybes. The excitement of receiving text messages or emails and knowing you were the only one who knew. The justification of the lies made to seem like truths so conscience is clear as appoints are made, lunches are taken, brief flitting encounters are held.

Helen knows she has everything and will lose it all? But whilst she has caught herself up in this cycle of thoughts, around her others are having their own crises. Alex's role in the daytime soap has got bigger and there is a new actress, well known who seems to be threatening the equilibrium that Helen thinks her and Alex have, despite Helen's own thoughts. These thoughts create situation where this none and a reason for her flirtation could now be justified.

Helen's friend Katie does what Helen is afraid to do and with consequences which makes Helen realise everything she has can be lost on one action. Katie is as much as Helen is caught in her web of thoughts and I think this parallel story could have been developed more, than it was, by the end it left me wanting more.

This is a debut novel and as such, I think it is okay. I did find it a bit hard going, not from the writing itself but from the lack of pace which I felt the story lacked. It is no doubt a modern novel, about problems that all of us perhaps face at one time or another. The misunderstandings, the lies we tell ourselves as well as our loved ones. This book makes you think more than your average chick-lit which sadly I think this book will be labelled with. A more grown up book, where you wonder if what you have in life is the best, and what it would be like to try something different.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2011
Definitely a great read, gripping right from the start and with a few laugh out loud moments.
Full of characters I felt I knew (or would want to!), facing dilemmas/choices/situations familiar to us all of a certain age, with children, jobs,complicated daily balancing acts...Left me wondering what choice I'd have made...
Highly recommended for book groups (with copious amounts of wine to ease the sharing of your own "white lies"!)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2011
I really enjoyed this book - it's all about characters being pulled this way and that and it read as being really true to life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2011
I loved reading Lizzie Enfield's brilliantly observed, funny and thought provoking novel. It's got some great characters and the witty engaging writing makes you really care about what happens to them and their relationships. Lots to talk about with friends. Storytelling that I couldn't put down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2011
Oh yes, this really is a funny book.Loved it.
But also touchingly relevant and exploring many of the conumdrums we are faced with as our children age and our relaionships mature(?).
This is sure to become one of those books that everyone is talking about.
Read it now, before yor friends do!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2011
'What You Don't Know' is Lizzie Enfield's debut novel. The story tells of Helen Collins, a woman in her forties, with a actor husband and two young children. When Helen finds herself developing feelings for another man, she begins to ponder the thought of acting on these feelings. The majority of this book focuses around this notion and Helen questionning her loyalty to her husband, Alex and her morals.

I did find the subject matter to be rather interesting and enjoyed the book much more than I thought I would based on the book's blurb. This is because I thought it was all handled in a much better way than many books handle such a subject and also I think it was done in a more mature and possibly realistic way.

I would however have liked there to have been epilogue at the end of the book as the story did seem to come to a bit of an abrupt end and I would particularly have liked to have found out what happened to Katie (Helen's best friend), maybe a few months down the line.

Aside from that this book is interesting and thought-provoking and one I would happily recommend.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2011
Choc full of winningly recognisable characters, relationships and predicaments, What You Don't Know is a witty and thoughtful precautionary tale of marriage once the first flush has worn off. Lizzie Enfield writes with deft and warm honesty about the feelings, dilemmas, misunderstandings and temptations that can seep into a relationship when the need to focus on each other shifts down the priority list of family life. Read it, think and enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2011
What You Don't Know is full of charm, wit and warmth. Revolving around Helen Collins, a part-time working mother of two, the story touches on those doubts (and dreams and fantasies)that set into the day-to-day realities of married life and motherhood. With lovingly observed characters and situations, it's a great read that leaves you guessing to the end!
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on 9 February 2012
Having stumbled across Lizzie Enfield I felt compelled to write a brief review of her superb debut novel "What You Don't Know". I really enjoyed Lizzie's writing, and found the novel to be entertaining, relevant and thoroughly engaging. Her characterizations were deftly handled and I found myself really believing in the portrayals of Helen, Alex and Graham. The plot centres around Helen's mid-life crisis moment, triggered through interviewing ex-soldier Graham. Despite the fact that he doesn't fit the obvious visual mould she is drawn to him, and is tempted by the possibility of an extra-marital affair, partly due to her actor-husband's preoccupation with his new co-star. Her indecision and the accompanying moral dilemma becomes the main theme of the novel, providing both its structure and its ultimate resolution.

The commonly held advice is to write about what you know, so given Lizzie's background it should come as no surprise that Helen is depicted as a journalist. This provides many opportunities for insightful observations about journalistic distance and objectivity. My feeling is that many of Helen's motivations and character traits are possibly the author's own, although this could simply be her skill as a writer in giving Helen a believable voice. There is a beautifully crafted description of Helen's indecision early on in the novel (which made me laugh out loud) and which then echoes throughout the rest of the book.

Minor criticisms are the fairly contained focus of the plot and the rather abrupt ending, which felt a little rushed, but these very minor gripes do not detract from the overall strength of the piece.

Intelligent, perceptive and wise, I would highly recommend this well-written book.
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