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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting dual timeframe story
Dual timeframe novels about a woman discovering secrets buried in an old house seem to be ten a penny at the moment, but this is one of the best I've read recently. The historical aspect concerns the Chartists (a group I remember vaguely from A Level History) who were campaigning for rights and education for workers. Their enigmatic envoy Robert Moore, who is based on a...
Published on 31 Mar. 2009 by Denise4891

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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I find this book quite difficult to rate. There are two stories:one present day and one from the past. I thoroughly enjoyed the history about the Chartists and how the people tried to deal with the injustice of the system. The characters were vivid and the plot was very interesting. However, the present day story, which was presumably just to present the historical...
Published on 3 Aug. 2009 by love reading


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting dual timeframe story, 31 Mar. 2009
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
Dual timeframe novels about a woman discovering secrets buried in an old house seem to be ten a penny at the moment, but this is one of the best I've read recently. The historical aspect concerns the Chartists (a group I remember vaguely from A Level History) who were campaigning for rights and education for workers. Their enigmatic envoy Robert Moore, who is based on a real Chartist leader, comes to lodge in the house of a young girl, Elizabeth, and the tension between them mounts as Robert encourages Elizabeth's love of literature and she slowly becomes obsessed with him.

In the modern thread, Rachel is suffering from post-natal depression coupled with grief over the death of her mother, so when she starts to hear voices and feel strange sensations in the house her mother has bequeathed her, she thinks it's her mind playing tricks on her.

I did enjoy this aspect of the book but if I had to make a criticism it would be that, aside from living in the same house, the link between Rachel and Elizabeth's stories is a bit tenuous and I would have liked Rachel to have delved more deeply into the history of the house and found out more about Elizabeth's time there after her marriage. Still a highly recommended read though.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two eras, 14 April 2011
This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
This book is a twin track work examining the lives of two women in different eras, one set in the mid eighteenth century and the other in the present day. The former is gripping with well drawn characters, a sense of place and continuous plot development. The latter is somewhat aimless and does not add a great deal to the tension of the book and in some ways a bit indulgent. I found myself wanting to return to the eighteenth century story whilst reading the modern narrative. In fact, the historical section of the book could have stood on its own. It has made me want to research the Chartist movement.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More beautiful writing, 19 Jun. 2008
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This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
Like her previous novel - The Mermaid's Child - 'The Telling' treads the terminator between reality and fantasy with intimations of the supernatural. However this has deep roots in geography (Lancaster and South Cumbria) and history (The Chartist Movement).

Written in first person the story is told through the eyes of a contemporary young woman whose mother has died and whose village cottage needs sorting and a young woman in the 19th century whose family lived in the same cottage and whose lodger, with his books and political beliefs, is an updated Miltonian Satan disturbing the oppressed innocence of the rural 'garden' with the apples of his knowledge.

The writing is a sustained exercise in creating mood and character through detail making this a book to be savored slowly rather than wolfed down. What I particularly enjoyed was the strong rooting in the observed-in-detail historical setting. When a book focusing on an historical period leaves you thinking - Yes, that is what it must have been like - then you know you have something special in your hands.

Highly recommended.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book that kept me awake reading until 2am..., 30 Dec. 2008
This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
I read this book late into the night in two sittings with, as some books can lead you to have, a delightfully selfish disregard for all that I might need to do the next day. The storyline is one that made me speed through the pages, while the characters, which are captivating, memorable and strong, particularly the earlier inhabitants of the house, made me wish for the book to go on for longer. In Mr Moore Jo Baker has created a man that one feels quite desperate to know, and has also brought to life the historical movement of the chartists.

I came straight onto Amazon after finishing the last page so that I might look at the other two books she has written.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, 3 Mar. 2009
By 
Mr. Malachi O'Doherty "Malachi" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
This is a pairing of stories. A woman visits the home of her dead mother to clear it out and begins to sense another presence there. That presence is the spirit of a woman who lived through the Chartist riots of the early 19th century.
The problem is that the solitary modern woman is alone with her impressions and thoughts most of the time, while, by contrast, the earlier woman is interacting with others and falling in love and doing things. This creates an imbalance between them. You finish the book wholly absorbed in the story and impressed with the power of this writer to set a scene, but with a niggling sense that you still don't really know the woman at the heart of it as well as you know the ghost.
Still, I would recommend this book highly. If there was a four and a half star option, this would be the place for it.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 3 Aug. 2009
By 
love reading "marsy" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
I find this book quite difficult to rate. There are two stories:one present day and one from the past. I thoroughly enjoyed the history about the Chartists and how the people tried to deal with the injustice of the system. The characters were vivid and the plot was very interesting. However, the present day story, which was presumably just to present the historical plot, was extremely boring and the protagonist was bland. The story would have worked far better on its own as a historical novel instead of the writer trying to prissy up the plot with the ghost story which, in my opinion, didn't work.
Overall though, worth reading for a historical interest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm telling you- it's a 'must read'!, 20 Oct. 2012
By 
PJ Preston "ppreston21" (Hythe, Hants, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Telling (Kindle Edition)
(review by Cat, not Phil)

Downloaded as a freebie by my husband - it's the best book he's picked in a long time! Other reviewers have offered the storyline - I was immersed in the Chartist half of the novel from the beginning. I was disappointed to find out about the inscription on the gravestone so early on in the book - it detracted from the rest of the tale and seemed strange for the author to plant her own 'spoiler' in the story!
The modern day half didn't resonate nearly as well, with the weak relationship between the couple and the lack of a strong plot. Far more could have been made of her proximity to the bookcase and the effect this was having on her.
4 stars instead of 5, because this book just lacks that final conviction in the plot. Beautifully written - it was a pleasure to read a Kindle novel with good proof-reading, a wide vocabulary, and excellent grammar.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tale of change and of continuity, 29 Dec. 2012
By 
S. Daw (Essex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Telling (Paperback)
The towns and villages in which we live have changed dramatically during the past few centuries; the lives of those who inhabit them even more so. Yet in most places buildings remain, custodians of the secrets of the people who have lived or worked in them. I've always found this fascinating, and it's one of the key themes of this book.

The Telling recounts relatively brief periods in the lives of Rachel, attempting to clear the house intended as her parents' retirement home in the 21st century, and Elizabeth, who lived in the same house as a nineteen-year-old woman in the 1840s. It explores the relationships of both women with their families and lovers, comparing and contrasting their identities within communities and landscapes.

Rachel suffers from depression. Some reviewers have suggested that her behaviour seems difficult to understand, but I suspect that they may have not had direct experience of the condition. I have, and found these sections extremely convincing.

This isn't an action novel, I suppose, but I find the criticisms that some have made about the pace being slow hard to fathom. Characters, and especially the relationships between them, have been developed slowly but skilfully. I found it a hard book to put down, and was already wishing it was longer well before half way through.

To enjoy this book you probably need that appreciation of time and place to which I alluded in my opening paragraph. I'd heard of the Chartists, but knew little about the movement until I read this book; I can't imagine anyone getting far without wanting to Google it! I found it a moving read - one of the most riveting and engaging books I've encountered for some time. I could certainly never have given this less than five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Telling by Jo Baker, 16 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Telling (Kindle Edition)
Five stars for this book because the story is so interesting. It switches between past and present the link being an old cottage and the lives of two young women, set in different centuries. Jo Baker writes beautifully of the cycle of life, of family and how it grows and the loss of loved ones. Sacrifices made and compromise. The harshest realities of life for the lower uneducated classes, the struggle to survive to even feed their families whilst their self appointed "betters" live off the benefits of the poor man's labours. We are introduced briefly to the Chartist Movement, which indirectly eventually does lead to changes in the law to the benefit of the poor. In present times we see different pressures, tiredness through long hours of work, (perhaps not as physical for this character in the book as in the time of Elizabeth's family) but still exhausting. Mental stress due to post-natal anxiety and the loss of a much loved mother causes Rachel the inability to move forward in life. All these things are woven together and wonderfully described in an understated way with such feeling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm......., 13 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Telling (Kindle Edition)
Having read Longbourne, I was expecting great things from this book. It started well, the middle was ok too, but I felt the ending wasn't explained or 'finished' properly. Why was everything suddenly ok? I feel I missed something somewhere! Jo Baker is a descriptive writer and I love how she makes you see & smell things in the surroundings of her story. I think the ending of this one was too subtle.
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The Telling
The Telling by Jo Baker
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