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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2014
As a child, Julia is asked to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of her cousin Iris. This is the beginning of the complicated relationship between the two which is central to the plot of this novel. While Julia is still young, a tragedy occurs within the family, and she decides to keep secret her part in it. When her mother dies, leaving her orphaned, Julia is sent to live with Iris and her husband and daughters, and her relationships with this family cause her to behave in such a way as to necessitate the keeping of further secrets. It is these secrets which will affect her deeply for many years to come, and which lead to her eventual choice of a career working with disturbed children.

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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on 22 April 2017
I was looking forward to reading this book, as I usually enjoy novels by Margaret Forster. However, I was disappointed with this one. The main character is completely self-absorbed and unlikeable - she really doesn't seem to have any redeeming features. The plot jumps about all over the place and no real justification is given for any of the protagonist's actions. The ending left me feeling unfulfilled and felt rushed. Sorry, but this book was just not for me. However, as I have enjoyed many other of her books, I will try more by Margaret Forster in the future. Let's hope this was a one-off and her other books are more in keeping with what I have come to expect from her writing.
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I'm a big fan of Margaret Forster; she manages to write eloquently on a number of different subjects, this means that some topics will be more of interest than others. In The Unknown Bridesmaid the story revolves around a child psychologist, Julia which I found immensely readable.

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.
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on 16 October 2013
Who is the unknown bridesmaid? Julie was a bridesmaid to her cousin Ivy when she was 7yrs. old.Through a series of flashbacks we learn the story of Julie's life and the wrong paths she could have taken. I always enjoy Margaret Forster's writing and this does not disappoint.The idea of Julia being a child psychologist neatly tied in with Julia herself being a troubled child. Forster always writes well of an ordinary woman's life, but always with a twist. I'm not sure what the ending of the book was about, any ideas?
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on 27 April 2017
Really enjoyed this book,great product,would use this seller again, thanks again.
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on 4 June 2017
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on 10 August 2015
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2014
I've often questioned if those who are haunted by demons are drawn to psychology; Julia seems to epitomise such a sufferer. Once again guilt is laid at the door of the mother. So there is nothing new about this plot. Usually I enjoy a novel which dips in and out of past and present but I found this rather too meandering. The children Julia saw as her patients were "thin", not quite real, and their treatment brief and unconvincing as though some sort of magic was being cast. The reader could feel the moments of tension between Julia and her mother, the way in which Julia suppressed her feelimngs was almost tangible. But for me the story didn't hang together. The joins were too obvious. I'm new to Margaret Forster and not sure I shall pursue her on my wishlist. This is almost a "Misery Memoir" which is not my genre of choice. I can see its appeal but it didn't do it for me. There was no grip, though plenty of drama.
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Julia is a child psychologist who calls on her troubled past for guidance in dealing with her clients. This excellent story ably illustrates the vital importance of a stable loving family environment and deals with jealousy , petty thieving and lying that often occur in young children. If these traits are not carefully dealt with this story illustrates how one may be affected in later life. Margaret Forster's story is beautifully written and there are a lot of uncomfortable scenarios that some of us may recognise from our own childhood.
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Margaret Forster's latest novel 'The Unknown Bridesmaid' centres on Julia, a child psychologist, who works with difficult children - either those from broken homes who have had traumatic experiences which are causing their challenging behaviour, or children from seemingly ordinary backgrounds whose behaviour, for some reason, is causing their parents considerable worry. But for whatever reason, and whoever Julia sees in her consulting rooms, she usually seems to be able to discover what is causing the problem, and very quickly and efficiently too - you could say Julia has a knack with troubled children, but Julia knows what it is like to be troubled for her own childhood was far from settled.

When Julia was eight, she was invited to be a bridesmaid for her beautiful cousin Iris, but although Julia was excited and very much looking forward to the wedding, the day was not quite as exciting and pleasurable as Julia had hoped for. In fact Julia's life seemed to take a downturn from that moment on - especially when, some months later, on a hot summer's day, Julia decided to secretly take out Iris's baby son in his unwieldy pram and something happened which has haunted Julia for years afterwards. (No spoilers, we learn this at the beginning of the novel). But it is not this incident alone that has caused problems for Julia - and, as we read on, we learn that it's not just Julia who has suffered from the consequences; and when Julia's troubled past life starts to detrimentally encroach into her present life, is she able she confront her past and cope with it, or does everything start to unravel?

Moving backwards and forwards in time, Margaret Forster gradually reveals to the reader details about Julia's unsettled past life and, as she looks into the nature of the inner child, she deftly shows us how what has happened to Julia in her formative years, has significantly affected her ability to relate to those close to her. It is interesting how the author develops her story and how, when we first read about Julia, we feel a natural sympathy towards this sensitive child but, as we read on and more about Julia's psyche is revealed, we find ourselves wondering about her motives and anticipating just how this story will finally conclude. I was drawn into Julia's life the moment I started reading and finished this novel in one sitting, and although I don't consider this to be one of Forster's best novels, I did find it an interesting, rather edgy and absorbing story.

4 Stars

Also recommended by the same author:
Keeping the World Away
Shadow Baby
Private Papers
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