The Unknown Bridesmaid Paperback – 27 Feb 2014
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"Nobody is better than Margaret Forster, with her clear calm prose, at delineating the fault lines of the ordinary, unexceptional and hidden lives" (Jennifer Selway Daily Express)
"a mesmerizing, unsettling novel" (New York Times)
"Makes such uncomfortable reading that at times you can barely turn the page, but it’s so compelling that you have to" (Mail on Sunday)
"Perfectly paced and with superbly drawn characters, this is a compelling story skilfully told" (Choice)
A dark and compelling story of family secrets and self-discovery from the author of Diary of an Ordinary Woman and Shadow BabySee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The story is written from Julia's perspective both in the present day revolving around her caseload of troubled young girls and her past; starting from the time she was asked to be a bridesmaid for her cousin Iris. Margaret Forster has a particular skill in depicting family relationships, not the sugar coated ones but the real life misunderstandings and difficulties that beset most families at one time or another. Julia spent the run up to the wedding terrified that this opportunity was going to be snatched away from her due to her mother's anxiety. As Julia grows she spends more time with Iris and soon a terrible event changes the course of her life forever.
This book has themes of childhood memories, jealousy and guilt running through its pages. There are some wonderful characters although not necessarily likable ones.
This is an absorbing tale, well written with a real understanding of how a child processes information and memories. The only criticism I have is that the girls in Julia's caseload seemed to be solved in a very simplistic manner, I presume this was to illustrate that all the girls needed was the wisdom of Julia's advice but I found it a little bit too dismissive. Despite this it was well worth a read and a good example of how well Margaret Forster writes and her immense skill at handling difficult subjects.
The novel cleverly builds up the tension, leading the reader to expect all kinds of possible outcomes, or even further secrets, and it makes for a gripping read. Julia grows from a disturbed child into a solitary, self-contained adult. Unable (or unwilling) to bond with Iris and her family, and with few friends, she is not really likeable, and yet I had a certain sympathy for her, and really wanted to know what was going to happen. I have loved all of Margaret Forster's novels, and while this is not my favourite, I enjoyed it very much, and have no hesitation in recommending it.
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