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4.4 out of 5 stars
303
4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is a dual time frame novel set in the 1960s and in 2008/9. Maggie is in a mental institution but has no memory of what has happened to her or why she is there. We get insights into her story alongside the story of Jonathan, a teacher in 2008 whose wife is pregnant. He has a difficult relationship with his parents and has never known why.

As the story unfolds we start to learn of the links between Maggie and Jonathan in alternating chapters. This is an easy book to read, and one which I found myself getting through quite quickly. There are comparisons with Maggie O'Farrell and I would agree that the style is similar. Maggie's story reminded me of O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

I really enjoyed this book. Parts were set in Sheffield where I'm from, so I liked that although it was not recognisable as the city apart from some very broad accents. The parts in the mental institution were sad to read, as people were not treated well in those establishments in the past. I'm not giving anything away by saying that Maggie finds herself pregnant and unmarried and I do think that people would have treated her less sympathetically in those days than is portrayed in the book, but that's my only real criticism.

A good tale and I liked the way it unfolded.
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on 11 May 2017
Maggie wakes up in a mental hospital in the 1960s, unable to recall how she got there, or even who she is. In the present day, Jonathan is a teacher whose wife is expecting their first child. Why is it so difficult for him to tell his parents that they are about to become grandparents? What could be the link between any of these characters?

Post-war Britain is depicted as a grim, prejudiced place, with cruelty and sadness both within and beyond the walls of the mental hospital. The course of Maggie’s breakdown is brutal and heartbreaking. Twenty-first-century life isn’t as harsh, and Jonathan’s breakdown isn’t as dramatic, but the disintegration of his personal and professional life engage our sympathies.

The parallels between the two timelines are deftly compared and contrasted, right down to the bitterly cold weather that seeps into the bones of both eras. And as the title suggests, the things that are hinted at, the things the characters struggle to say or refuse to say, are central to the unfolding of this intriguing novel.

There is hardly a mis-step in the storytelling, although I found a couple of diversions a little difficult to accept, especially when the majority of the time the characters and their lives feel so authentic. I love the way that the author makes a mystery story from a family drama, giving the reader the excitement of the former and the emotion of the latter.
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on 29 August 2017
Incredible tale of family drama, and history, and intrigue - couldn't put the book down once started, and then didn't want the book to end when it did but was thrilled by how the whole events unfolded and knitted together.

The detail of the medical scenes, and the historical events, houses, streets were brilliant and graphic, a little scary and harrowing but truthful at times, allowing me to be able to completely immerse myself into every scene, and into the characters minds - feeling their pain and emotion.

Extremely well written, and I look forward to reading the next novel!
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on 13 August 2017
Just finished this book and wished it hadn't ended. Beautiful story detailing how mental health was dealt with not all that long ago. Was very fond of Maggies character and saddened by her life story and the awful hardships she suffered.
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on 13 November 2014
It was good to finally find a book I enjoyed reading - there has been a few books recently that I've started and decided not to continue, and therefore I've not review them. This novel includes quite a few gritty issues which are nicely covered in the two interesting story lines. Just as I thought the two stories were never going to tie together, it happened and I found myself being swept along to the end.
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on 12 June 2016
This book captured the modern day and the 60s beautifully. It captured everything perfectly. I don't remember many authors names, I will remember Susan Elliot Wright.
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on 15 March 2017
thank you
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on 21 March 2014
A good read. Maggies story was especially good. I really liked the way hers and Jonathans stories came together. It's been said before but this really did remind me of Maggie O'Farrell. Recommended.
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on 22 September 2017
Too many characters with problems.
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on 4 August 2017
A good, well written story that kept me interested throughout. I didn't want it to finish!
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