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4.4 out of 5 stars
297
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 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 5 November 2013
One of those books that once I started I couldn't put down. Can't wait for her next book to come out.
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This is a poignant story which deals with serious issues sensitively and without being melodramatic about it. Split between the early 60's narrated by Maggie, a young woman who leaves home to follow her dream to make props for a theatre company, and 2008 - 2009 by Jonathan a teacher at a secondary school. Both tales are well written and successfully authentic.

If anything I enjoyed Jonathan's story more than Maggie's which is an accolade to the author's ability to bring his story to life rather than focussing on that of Maggie's which is mainly set in on a psychiatric ward unable to piece together what had led to her being there. The skilful way the author draws a picture of the surroundings, from the boarding house to the sea at Hastings, along with the edge of suspense to what is essentially a familiar story made it hard to believe this is the author's first novel. I was particularly glad that this is one of those books which had a proper ending, one that I have to confess brought a tear to my eye.

Susan Elliot Wright is definitely an author I will be looking out for in the future.
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on 11 September 2013
I only bought this book as I was drawn to the cover and it was cheap! Not the usual way I choose books as I normally read all the reviews etc ...but something drew me to it. So glad I bought it as the story had me hooked from the beginning.
The story is beautifully written and it is wonderful to read a book where the characters and the way they speak in the past and in 2013 is totally believable. (innit?) Real and honest voices as opposed to stereotypical cardboard cut outs.
The pace of the plot is perfect, not revealing too much too soon, and there is an overrall sense of 'equilibrium' and balance in what occurs in each chapter as the story unfolds.
It is apparent that the author is very 'emotionally intelligent' and in touch with people's feelings etc and it is so nice to read a story which is not too formulaic (the book just 'feels' right.
The 'travel' just as important as the destination. I am quite sad I have finished the story. The ending does not disappoint.
Unlike some reviewers who have said the book is predictable, I do not agree. It is refreshing to get a book which is so well-written that you do not analyse it as you turn the pages but just effortlessly escape into the fictional world created and enjoy it.
The subject matters (I do not believe in giving plots away) are treated with gravitas and respect and there is just the right amount of humour when needed. The story gently evolves, as all great plots should and I will definitely buy another book by the author.
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on 28 January 2014
This had my attention from the first few pages, and I read it to the end in one sitting - very late night! We are involved with Maggie's rehabilitation from a nervous breakdown in the '60s, gradually learning her story as she regains snippets of information about herself. Running alongside Maggie's story is that of Jonathan and Fiona who are expecting their first child, but whose life seems to be imploding. Just as things look as though they can't get any worse for them, a police man turns up to ask Jonathan about his father. The author skilfully controls the development of her characters and the release of information so that the reader is working things out at about the same time as the characters, The descriptive writing is excellent, particularly when dealing with the boarding house and rooms that Maggie and the theatrical troupe use; the 60s attitude towards sex, abortion and unwed mothers is also well captured. If you want a lazy holiday read then this might not be it, but if you want something to keep your attention and make you think, then I recommend this very highly.
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