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3.8 out of 5 stars134
3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 2 October 2011
I have read some of Isabelle Grey's non-fiction work written under her maiden name: Isabelle Anscombe - most notably: Omega and After: Bloomsbury and the Decorative Arts - so I was interested to see how her fiction writing would fare.

The main protagonist in this story is Patrick Hinde, a self-employed homeopath and loving husband and devoted father. His parents come to stay for a few difficult days bringing with them painful memories and feelings that Patrick would rather not face and, instead of confronting them, he feels he has to escape. He straps his young son into the car and, like any ordinary work day, he heads off to the child minder before arriving at his place of work. But this is not any ordinary day and at the close of it, Patrick's life is turned upside down. The story then moves on five years and we are now in France where a young English woman, Leonie, finds herself very attracted to a man called Patrice, who specializes in homeopathy, has no wife, no child and will not step foot inside a car.

'Out of Sight' is basically a love story about a damaged man who is unable to cope with the damage that has been done to him and the damage that he has done to other people. It is about emotional cowardice and how this man, in order to avoid facing up to his problems, compartmentalizes his feelings and, in doing so, commits a dreadful, fatal act of forgetfulness. This is also the story of Leonie, a woman with a failed love affair behind her, who feels that the redemptive powers of love will solve Patrice's problems - even though he resists many of her efforts to understand and heal him. I have to say that I became a little impatient at times with both Patrice and Leonie - he, because in punishing himself, punishes everyone around him even more and she, because she does not heed the warning signs and goes straight ahead with something that a more perceptive person would realize could alienate him. At the close of the story Patrick and Leonie's problems are in some ways resolved, but perhaps not in the way they, or the reader might have expected.

A rather interesting story written by an author who, apart from her non-fiction writing, has also written screenplays for several popular TV programmes, and I found this novel a quick and easy read. As an aside, I must add that the author does not forget her interest in Bloomsbury - it was amusing to read that Patrick's parents visited Charleston Farmhouse (Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant's wonderful 'Bloomsbury' home in East Sussex) and that Patrick's father had bought his wife an attractive scarf from the Charleston shop. In summary, 'Out of Sight' is a fairly entertaining read if you require something not too taxing or demanding and would be fine for a downtime or bedtime read; it's not a great literary novel, but then we don't always want that, do we?

3.5 Stars
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on 8 October 2011
The two central characters in this psychological thriller provoke strong responses in the reader.
Is Patrice a troubled, well-meaning victim of poor parenting or a self-absorbed, narcissistic monster?
Is Leonie nurturing,loving and brave or merely infatuated and self-deluding?
Or are the characters a mixture of all these?
Whatever the reader's take on this, Patrice and Leonie have been drawn with such skill that it is impossible to remain indifferent to them.
This would be great book for discussion groups or book clubs, or as a poolside page-turner.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 November 2013
Initially one has a profound sympathy for Patrick/Patrice, as his guilt over a devastating mistake appears to overwhelm him although that soon changes to a vague and growing irritation. As time passes and he completely intentionally walks away from those who love him, he also appears to walk away from life itself, shrivelling emotionally, until he comes into contact with a woman who, sensing his pain and anxiety, is willing to give him the time and patience he needs to heal. She is hopeful that her love will help him to blossom, but not knowing anything of his past, she is unable to fully understand his needs, she recognises his reserve and lack of emotional depth, but rather than trying to dig him out of it - sensing that he would run from that - she enables him to continue to hide from himself and the world. It is brave of the author to paint the protagonist as a deeply flawed and unsympathetic man. Whilst recognising that he is a man very damaged by the past, he is also in many ways very weak, self centred and cowardly. Throughout the book I was looking for him to realise and face his flaws and a means of redemption for him. The author skilfully takes us right to the end of the book to find the answers, but are they what we expect them to be?
The author has created her characters with depth but without giving away too much of his background. In the period he spent in France we are not told what he did which was so devastating but it is easy to surmise. In that however, we have the advantage over Leonie who cannot imagine what has created his unique personality traits. Like her, we can feel his pain and anxiety and cannot predict what he will do next, unlike her however, we do know that he is not going to react well to her news, although I didn't really expect him to do what he did, although perhaps I should have.
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Isabelle Grey's first book drew me in from the first page, and even better, continued to do so until the last page. The story starts in 2005 with Patrick's parents visiting him, his wife and son. Patrick's mother is an anxious woman and the description of her behaviour hits the mark exactly, the tensions that spread to those in her orbit were so accurately described it was painful to read.

In 2011 a woman in France meets Patrice and falls completely in love with him. Again the emotions of all involved are completely believable so that I really felt I got to know the characters. The pace of this book is perfect.

Fantastic writing with the right amount of intrigue I'm looking forward to Isabelle Grey's next novel The Bad Mother.
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on 23 July 2013
There is no doubt that this book is beautifully written. The author's use of language is superb; she can produce long, carefully described passages that never seem 'overdone' or self consciously 'literary'.

My only complaint is that I found the ending unsatisfying. Not that it was 'wrong' or badly written, it just left me felling a little washed out (which is testament to how the author led one to feel involved with the two main characters). After some thought I realised that whilst I could understand and forgive the emotional cowardice of Patrick, what I could not forgive (or really believe) was his apparent almost complete lack of guilt over what he'd done to Leonie.

Added: After further thought, I feel that the flaw in this book is that, whilst we read a very great deal about what Leonie thinks about her relationship with Patrick, and what Patrick thinks about the loss of his son and his potential relationship to his new 'family', the one thing we never hear is what he thinks about his relationship with Leonie and his desertion of her. His capricious treatment is never probed by the author, even to the extent that when Leonie catches up with him some time after he deserted her, she makes no real attempt to discover what he felt about vanishing from the life of a girl he had just got pregnant.
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on 9 January 2014
The book started well and looked to be a gripping read, despite the unrealistic sex-scenes (a couple who both work full time and have a demanding toddler but fall into bed with "unbridled passion" every night of the week?!) Unfortunately it quite quickly became bland and long-winded.

I disliked both lead characters - Leonie was spineless and weak, acting over her relationship problems the way to teenager might rather than a 30-something woman. The cliche of her biological clock ticking meaning that she'll happily fall pregnant by anyone she comes across with no thought as to the child's future. Patrick was cold, unlikeable, unattractive, despite the numerous paragraphs dedicated to how good looking he is - I accept that he had a damaged upbringing but there was nothing about this character that warmed the audience to him in any small way. The end was quick and flat - I was on the last page before I even realised I was at the end, it was as if even the author got fed up with the whole thing and said "enough"!
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on 7 May 2013
I loved this harrowing book and am glad I started it on a weekend so I could keep reading. Well developed characters with depth, their frailties and inadequacies made the book really come alive for me. The fact that I didn't warm to Patrick only made the story more real and somehow sinister.

I liked the ending, which had me guessing until the very last.

Very much looking forward to reading the author's New book.
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on 18 September 2014
The book centres around Patrick, a homeopath, and his relationships with his family and women.
I can't say I really understand him, particularly in the latter part of the book. The women we meet- Belinda, Leonie and Nicki- are not fully developed in my opinion which leaves many questions. I felt it left the story disjointed and frustrating.
The trauma Patrick suffers is almost unimaginable but I didn't believe what led to it and although it explained his relationship with Belinda, I felt it didn't work on the same level with Leonie and Nicki. His treatment of Leonie was cruel and not that of the character described earlier in the book.
I was intrigued by the story, however, and keen to read to the end to find out where it all lead.
The book is split into three parts, with the first two stronger than the third.
It's a good read, pleasant, but not gripping or brilliantly told.
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on 6 July 2013
This book started off well. I almost gave it 2 stars for that reason, but after getting to the inciting incident, it all just goes downhill, and badly. Later on, I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, or something that justified the lengthy explanations of Patrick's heritage. But nothing does happen.

There is some good writing on grief and despair, but some of the dialogue is so stilted and unnatural, it spoils any flow the book had. Leonie is too weak and pathetic to be relatable and Patrick so cold - understandably - that it is hard to relate to him or care much for his recovery. Very surprised by the 5 star reviews.
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on 17 April 2013
The characters in this book are sufficiently engaging to draw you in. The fact that you know there is some mystery around Patrick/Patrice gives a real edge to the recounting of the relationship from Leonie's angle. How you perceive what is "the right thing" for her to do will fluctuate as the action and the back story unfolds. This isn't a book that will change your life but is is a real page turner and one that you may well want to discuss with a friend to see what their take is on deceiving others and self-deception. My main criticism is that the end is slightly rushed and too "closed" - even if it does avoid cliche.
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