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Things We Never Said: An unputdownable story of love, loss, and hope Paperback – 1 Sep 2017
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As always, Nick draws you straight into the story and by the end of the first chapter I felt as though I already knew the main characters, Sean, who at first seemed too good to be true but from Catherine we find out that he does have his flaws. Catherine, his wife, who is so honest on the tapes that I wanted to switch the machine off! April his daughter, whom you can tell Sean idolises, Cynthia, Sean's mother, a very complex person, but so true to life and Maggie, Catherine’s friend, who has a big heart but no one to share it with. Nick writes about these people and their friends so vividly that I sometimes think he has snuck into my life and met my family and friends. I do not know of any other author who writes with so much perception of people and their foibles.
The book moves effortless between the present day and the 1980’s, which brought back many personal memories of those times for me. Nick, you have definitely nailed this era and brought it to life, so much so that when I looked up from reading I expected to hear Duran Duran playing in the background!
I loved this book, although it made me smile and laugh out loud there were quite a few times when it had me reaching for the tissues. I had to stop myself racing through it to find out what happened next but only because it meant I would have to wait even longer for the next Nick Alexander novel.
I sincerely hope this book makes it to #1 because that is where it deserves to be. If you haven’t read a novel by Nick Alexander then this is the time to start.
Well done Nick, please, please, please start writing your next novel now!
I received a pre-publication edition of this book from the Publisher for review purposes, but this has not influenced my review in any way.
Sean has lost his wife Catherine to cancer, and she has left him a box containing voice messages and photographs for him to open, one a week, over 29 weeks. These reveal her thoughts and experiences of their life together, beginning when they met as teenagers until she was aware her life was ebbing away as her illness took over. The description of her sensing the shadows drawing her into them, and away from the path of pain she was in, was so evocative and absolutely heartbreaking.
I could so identify with life in the early 80s when Catherine and Sean met, the music, the smoking, the styles, and the fiery sense of injustice and eagerness to protest was so familiar! As the story progresses, the title of the book becomes clearer, if only Sean and Catherine had actually voiced their worries and feelings during the course of the marriage, perhaps they would have had an easier time.
This is a wonderful book, I absolutely loved it.
The chapters of the book start with a short description of each photograph of the weekly opened envelopes, and then the verbal contents of the cassette which Catherine recorded during her final weeks in hospital. We go back to the beginning of Catherine and Sean's relationship when they first met at a fairground and hear from Catherine her first hand impression of meeting Sean. The following chapters give milestone markers of their marriage, the birth of their daughter, April, and various parties and workplace memories – some of which even Sean had forgotten about.
I thought this was a very clever, if not quite unique, way of telling the story of an, at times, troubled marriage through snapshots of memory. Although the premise sounds depressing, it has very uplifting and amusing moments. It is written with emotion and sensitivity and also shows how father and daughter come to terms with the loss of wife and mother in different ways. I am ashamed to say that this is the first book by Nick Alexander I have read, but it won't be the last.
I love Nick's writing and every book of his back catalogue that I have enjoyed has always had me wondering how he became so clever at interpreting real life situations.
Now this latest novel left me a broken woman. You see I lost my spouse albeit 18 years ago to that nasty little disease that we used to call the big c. In our 40's with a young family Nicks tale of love, loss and secrets had me back there feeling my our loss all over again.
I have to be honest, this did not happen straight away but about half way through. The late diagnosis of cancer was almost exactly the same as for my dear sweet husband as it was for Catherine, the same symptoms.
Nick Alexander, you really are the most observant writer of the human emotion that I have as yet come across. I take my hat off to you. You took me to a place that I had managed to store away in a locker room in my heart, enabling me to carry on and rear our children.
Thank you. It is cleansing to return there.
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