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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accomplished first novel.
This had my attention from the first few pages, and I read it to the end in one sitting - very late night! We are involved with Maggie's rehabilitation from a nervous breakdown in the '60s, gradually learning her story as she regains snippets of information about herself. Running alongside Maggie's story is that of Jonathan and Fiona who are expecting their first child,...
Published 9 months ago by misty meanor

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy and enjoyable summer read
This novel is the old familiar story of how an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy can change the shape of lives and lives to come. I found it to be an easy and enjoyable read, but no more than that. Comparisons to Margaret Forster and Maggie O Farrell are more than a little bit misleading - this book does not stand up to that comparison and readers choosing on that basis...
Published 4 months ago by Scholastica


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very accomplished first novel., 28 Jan 2014
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This had my attention from the first few pages, and I read it to the end in one sitting - very late night! We are involved with Maggie's rehabilitation from a nervous breakdown in the '60s, gradually learning her story as she regains snippets of information about herself. Running alongside Maggie's story is that of Jonathan and Fiona who are expecting their first child, but whose life seems to be imploding. Just as things look as though they can't get any worse for them, a police man turns up to ask Jonathan about his father. The author skilfully controls the development of her characters and the release of information so that the reader is working things out at about the same time as the characters, The descriptive writing is excellent, particularly when dealing with the boarding house and rooms that Maggie and the theatrical troupe use; the 60s attitude towards sex, abortion and unwed mothers is also well captured. If you want a lazy holiday read then this might not be it, but if you want something to keep your attention and make you think, then I recommend this very highly.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 18 Jun 2013
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ElaineG (uk) - See all my reviews
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This is an absolutely superb read. It is a story told in two halves with each chapter alternating between the two strands of the story, which then eventually dovetail together.

The first story is that of Maggie, who we first meet as a mental health patient in 1964. Maggie has no recollection of her life before entering the hospital and her story is divulged as she slowly starts to remember when we find out that she has had to make some very brave decisions which will affect her and others for a long time to come. It is not a pretty read, the events that brought her to this point in life and her treatment in hospital are very moving and quite harrowing at times.

The second story is that of Jonathan and takes place 40 years on. We meet him at a time when everything is going wrong in his life including, but not exclusively, problems at work and his father's death and the strain everything is putting on his marriage have really brought him to a low point. The only thing he has to look forward to is the birth of his first child. There are times in the book where you feel that he isn't getting the support he needs from his wife Fiona, but as a pregnant woman she has her own set of priorities. As the book says, when a woman is pregnant, she is the most important person in the world so when, on top of everything else, an unexpected visitor arrives with some quite shocking news that will have far reaching implications for Jonathan, he really feels he is on his own.

As I read the book, moving towards the point where the two stories meet up, I could appreciate how well the author had plotted this suspense filled story, which is very unusual, poignant and thought provoking. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each part of the storyline very neatly fits together until eventually you see the whole picture, with no spares.

There are some very serious issues in the book, which are dealt with in a very matter of fact way, not too melodramatic, but just right. It wasn't a book that I could sit and read in one go, partly because I didn't want it to end, but I kept having to put it down to catch my breath and take it all in.

It really is a special read, about parenthood, love, loss and mental health; one that I found very emotional and when it reached its very satisfying ending, I had to wipe a little tear away from my eye.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable!, 30 Jun 2013
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I bought this book as an inexpensive holiday read, but was soon deeply imbedded in the lives of the characters. Fascinating how the two stories start to merge and I was an emotional mess, but in good way, for the last third of the book. It's been a long time since a book has moved me to tears. Excellent read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good dual time frame story, 13 July 2014
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Nicola in South Yorkshire "nicola_in_southyorks" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a dual time frame novel set in the 1960s and in 2008/9. Maggie is in a mental institution but has no memory of what has happened to her or why she is there. We get insights into her story alongside the story of Jonathan, a teacher in 2008 whose wife is pregnant. He has a difficult relationship with his parents and has never known why.

As the story unfolds we start to learn of the links between Maggie and Jonathan in alternating chapters. This is an easy book to read, and one which I found myself getting through quite quickly. There are comparisons with Maggie O'Farrell and I would agree that the style is similar. Maggie's story reminded me of O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

I really enjoyed this book. Parts were set in Sheffield where I'm from, so I liked that although it was not recognisable as the city apart from some very broad accents. The parts in the mental institution were sad to read, as people were not treated well in those establishments in the past. I'm not giving anything away by saying that Maggie finds herself pregnant and unmarried and I do think that people would have treated her less sympathetically in those days than is portrayed in the book, but that's my only real criticism.

A good tale and I liked the way it unfolded.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 30 Jun 2013
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june (Staffordshire) - See all my reviews
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Very well written, emotional story. Couldn't put it down! Bought tears to my eyes more than once, and I actually cried at the end, not many books have done that to me! recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy and enjoyable summer read, 20 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Things We Never Said (Paperback)
This novel is the old familiar story of how an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy can change the shape of lives and lives to come. I found it to be an easy and enjoyable read, but no more than that. Comparisons to Margaret Forster and Maggie O Farrell are more than a little bit misleading - this book does not stand up to that comparison and readers choosing on that basis are likely to be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Like Her Observations, 22 Oct 2014
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Lynda Kelly "Lynda" (Shipton Bellinger, UK) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed this and would certainly read her again but it lost a star for me due to a few niggling mistakes and the oft-repeated descriptions of fires and fireplaces which grew tiresome for me !!
Weirdly the gorgeous cover doesn't copy across to either my Kindle or tablet, only on the tablet's carousel. That's a shame. The girl on the cover made me picture Lady Mary from Downton Abbey !!
She spelt discernible as discernable which I've seen done every time I've spotted it written in an e-book. Not sure why that is but it's wrong and it's annoying and so are random spaces inserted into words which seem to be another e-book speciality....like with con stable and whist ling and tin ker's. I only spotted one apostrophe error, though, which I was pleased about !!!
I liked some of the nostalgic mentions such as Kensitas cigarettes. I Googled to see if they were still around as an aside and if you look too take a peep at Kensitas Silks-what a thing-and very collectable. And whatever happened to bridge rolls ? You rarely see them nowadays.I was really fascinated to read about the 7 dwarfs and Disney as well !! I remember fondly those little Observer books as well as I had a couple when I was a kid.The author's little observations she made about day-to-day noises like the fridge's humming I liked a lot and there were some very funny lines in it as well.
The story was a good one and each chapter reverted back to Maggie's life or Jonathan's and I like books that are written in this way with the 2 periods clearly delineated. Some authors leave you wondering who's speaking and in which era !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 18 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Things We Never Said (Paperback)
This is a truly great book. Sometimes books which have two or more threads do not gel, not here though. Beautifully joined together, the threads in this join seamlessly. Stories with subject matter as this can be dull and dark but this is a warm book written with a knowledge and understanding that many will relate to. I didn't want this to end, but it does, and perfectly so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truthful, unpretentious and very, very moving., 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Things We Never Said (Paperback)
I finished this book late (very late) last night. I absolutely loved it although it made me cry a great deal.
Part familiar story of unwanted pregnancy (reminding me of An L-shaped Room, which I have always loved), part story of a young man coming to terms with fatherhood, on many different levels.

This book is so easy to read and so simply written that it feels effortless.Susan Elliot Wright is a deceptively skilled writer. I suspect this kind of gripping, unpretentious story-telling is a great deal harder than it seems.

I'm now rushing off to start her second book The Secrets we Left Behind.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was swept along by Elliot Wright's assured storytelling, 24 May 2013
This review is from: The Things We Never Said (Paperback)
This is a novel about mental health, memory and how the fabric of families can potentially unravel - all rich subjects for fiction - and Susan Elliot Wright delivers them splendidly.

The Things We Never Said begins with Maggie waking up in a mental hospital in the 1960s unable to remember who she is or how on earth she got there. She gradually acquaints herself with her fellow patients and the staff `caring' for them, having to learn (or is it relearn?) the rules and etiquette as she tries to recover her past. It's a great premise to launch the story from, and the bygone era of chilly mental institutions and electroshock treatment (that seems to be used as punishment rather than therapy) are absorbing and scarily plausible.

Meanwhile in the present day, we meet Jonathan, a teacher with a pregnant wife and aging parents. His first challenge in the book is to find a way to tell them they're going to be grandparents. There's no obvious reason why they'd be unhappy about it, it's simply a case of Jonathan choosing his moment . . . And yet this becomes but one of several things various characters leave unsaid, or have difficulty finding the right words for, and naturally their lack of communication has consequences.

The Germans have a term, Weltschmerz, for the sadness felt when one realises the world cannot match the ideal of one's mind. This is what Jonathan is going through. He is in crisis because he cannot accept his father for the barbed and distant man he is; and, when he learns an uncomfortable truth, is drawn into a spiral of anxiety and unseemly behaviour that threatens his job and relationship.

While Maggie's far more dramatic break down is exacerbated by the prejudice and ignorance of post-war Britain, Jonathan's issues have a distinctly modern flavour: binge drinking, pent up rage, the ups-and-downs of marriage and imminent fatherhood, not to mention the stress of being embroiled in a workplace investigation. The comparisons and contrasts drawn out between the two eras are subtle, and cleverly done.

Some of the most touching portions of the novel, past and present, take place when it snows, a detail not even hinted at by the cover design. Perhaps it's because I read this on trains in December on my way to and from family visits, but there's something very appropriate about the author's choice here: the quietness of snow; the numbing cold; the way it disguises familiar landscapes; the connotations of Christmas, sentimentality, journeys and reconciliation. It's probably not the easiest angle to promote a debut novel from, but this is an excellent winter read.

The themes in The Things We Never Said are treated knowledgeably, but gently, and I was swept along by Elliot Wright's assured storytelling. An ideal choice for readers of genealogy mysteries.
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The Things We Never Said
The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot-Wright (Paperback - 23 May 2013)
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