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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2007
Over is yet another novel from Margaret Forster that touches a raw, sore nerve. Over is about grief and death. Yet this "misery novel" is never mawkish or grim. When tragedy strikes, an erstwhile happy family tries to deal with the loss. Everyone copes with the death of their eighteen-year-old sister/daughter in a sailing accident differently and causes unintentional further pain to other members of the family as they do so. The book is not so much about the shock of the tragedy itself as what happens next - when it is over. The mother, a kindly school teacher, records the chain of events that leads to the family being torn apart and gradually find ways to pull together. It is crafted beautifully from the first sentence to the last. Don't be put off by the bleak subject matter. The book is about ordinary people filled with hope and love trying to understand each other and what has happened to them.
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on 19 December 2007
This is a brilliant depiction of a family disintegrating following the death of a daughter, sadly a situation so often encountered in real life. The characters are well-drawn and convincing and the writing clear and concise. So why was I not compelled to keep reading, anxious to return to the book whenever I had put it down?

It's a difficult question to answer, but I somehow had to force myself to read to the end. Maybe because it was so obvious what was going to happen the story lost that sense of anticipation, of wondering how the author would resolve the conflicts she had presented so fluently. I have only read one other novel by Margaret Forster and again I remember that feeling of something lacking, some intangible quality that would lift the story out of the mundane. It was well-written, true to life, and dealt with a heart-rending topic, but, as with 'Over', I felt I could 'take it or leave it'. And yet I love novels without a fast-moving plot that chart feelings and how people deal with them - 'The Other Side of You' by Salley Vickers, for instance.

I know Margaret Forster's fans rate her highly, so I shall not give up on her yet and am about to start 'Keeping the World Away'. Meanwhile, I imagine her fans will not want to miss 'Over'. For me, though, it didn't quite make it.
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on 15 April 2007
Ask what 'happens' in this novel and you have to say 'Not much', in terms of a runaway plot, that is. But Forster's gift is to write about 'ordinary' people and events so that the reader keeps reading avidly. Her theme is the coping with loss, and the effects on others of the strategies we employ to do this. I have enjoyed all her work, and am a fan, so perhaps this is biased, but I rate it the best book I've read in many months
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on 14 March 2010
I've never read any Margaret Forster before but I stumbled across this novel online and liked the blurb, so bought the audiobook. Within minutes of turning on my ipod, I knew I was in the best hands. Forster writes beautifully - her prose has that easy-going simplicity of tone that only a consummate writer can assume. Her descriptions are concise and unfailing accurate; her characters utterly believable.

But what really impressed me was the depth and subtlety of Forster's characterisation, and the psychology behind her characters' relationships. There are no happy endings or easy exits, and she even gets away with a few red herrings - the mysterious anonymous phone calls - without leaving you feeling cheated at the end. Above all, her exploration of grief is so real and convincing that you can't help but feel she must have experienced it first hand. Yet somehow it never descends into hopelessness or bleakness. There is life after death, it seems, and Forster shows us just how it might be achieved.
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on 17 July 2015
A story about grief at the loss of a daughter by drowning, the whole book is about a woman who cannot recover from her sadness. It is understandable and I sympathised with her, but a whole book was too long.
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VINE VOICEon 11 January 2014
This was the first book I'd read by the prolific Ms Forster, and I have to confess, I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. The author has a beautiful use of words that just carries you along, gradually absorbing the facts as they are presented and simultaneously empathising with the struggles of the bereaved family. To be honest, not a lot happens, but I respect that the author therefore had the sense to make this a fairly short book (200 pgs), not putting us through unnecessary verbosity.

The book is narrated by Louise, whose 18 year-old daughter, Miranda has drowned in a sailing accident. The whole family is devastated but each family member reacts differently. To my mind, Louise's reaction was the one I most related to, while her husband was driven to research parts of boats and engine mechanisms in a bid to find someone to blame. His extreme, obsessive reaction drives a wedge between himself and his family. Miranda's twin sister and their younger brother each deal with the loss individually, though I was surprised that the twin's reaction wasn't more extreme.

It is Margaret Forster's description of the emotions and psychology of loss that are the strength of the book. I loved her subtleties and perceptions:
"When Lynne left, her energy always left with her, and I collapsed again". (Pg 21)

Only the ending left me a little dissatisfied. As I had related to Louise, I felt the pressure she was under at the end, I'm not sure I'd have been so accommodating. I will say no more.
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on 25 September 2013
This is a penetrating study of what may happen when a tragedy strikes a family. Seen through the eyes (and the journal) of the mother of a drowned teenager, the story unfolds of the effect on the family members who remain. It's told with honesty and warmth.Highly recommended.
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It would be easy to be put off by the depressing synposis, but it's a tribute to Margaret Forster's writing that I never felt I was intruding on this family's grief. The book is only 200 pages long and there is absolutely no padding, every word counts. The story is narrated by the mother Louise, who is becoming increasingly exasperated by her husband's obsession with finding out exactly how his beloved (and favourite) daughter died. There are some very moving moments, such as when Louise seeks comfort from the class of five year olds she teaches, and it's very sad to watch their other two children coping not just with the loss of their sister, but also with the disintegration of their family.

Margaret Forster is defintely a writer I can rely on to lift me out of a reading rut.
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on 16 January 2015
Not one of Nargaret Forsters most engaging books. Just as i felt something might happen, the book ended- it felt like a slightly longer short story. However, in portraying a family coming to terns with loss of a family member, I could see how readers might be helped to work through similar situation in their lives.
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on 14 September 2014
Beautifully written and observed. Reading this book made me want to read more of Margaret Forster's books.
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