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The Telling
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 20 October 2012
(review by Cat, not Phil)

Downloaded as a freebie by my husband - it's the best book he's picked in a long time! Other reviewers have offered the storyline - I was immersed in the Chartist half of the novel from the beginning. I was disappointed to find out about the inscription on the gravestone so early on in the book - it detracted from the rest of the tale and seemed strange for the author to plant her own 'spoiler' in the story!
The modern day half didn't resonate nearly as well, with the weak relationship between the couple and the lack of a strong plot. Far more could have been made of her proximity to the bookcase and the effect this was having on her.
4 stars instead of 5, because this book just lacks that final conviction in the plot. Beautifully written - it was a pleasure to read a Kindle novel with good proof-reading, a wide vocabulary, and excellent grammar.
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on 14 April 2011
This book is a twin track work examining the lives of two women in different eras, one set in the mid eighteenth century and the other in the present day. The former is gripping with well drawn characters, a sense of place and continuous plot development. The latter is somewhat aimless and does not add a great deal to the tension of the book and in some ways a bit indulgent. I found myself wanting to return to the eighteenth century story whilst reading the modern narrative. In fact, the historical section of the book could have stood on its own. It has made me want to research the Chartist movement.
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on 13 May 2016
Firstly should say that read 'Longthorne' first (which was fabulous) so read this and another by the same author on the back of enjoying that one so much. This is a lovely book about 2 women from different times in the same house ( same house, different time being a perculier obsession of mine !!) but it didn't grip me in the same way as Longthorne. Would still recommend though as some of the writing is just heavenly
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on 19 June 2008
Like her previous novel - The Mermaid's Child - 'The Telling' treads the terminator between reality and fantasy with intimations of the supernatural. However this has deep roots in geography (Lancaster and South Cumbria) and history (The Chartist Movement).

Written in first person the story is told through the eyes of a contemporary young woman whose mother has died and whose village cottage needs sorting and a young woman in the 19th century whose family lived in the same cottage and whose lodger, with his books and political beliefs, is an updated Miltonian Satan disturbing the oppressed innocence of the rural 'garden' with the apples of his knowledge.

The writing is a sustained exercise in creating mood and character through detail making this a book to be savored slowly rather than wolfed down. What I particularly enjoyed was the strong rooting in the observed-in-detail historical setting. When a book focusing on an historical period leaves you thinking - Yes, that is what it must have been like - then you know you have something special in your hands.

Highly recommended.
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on 3 March 2009
This is a pairing of stories. A woman visits the home of her dead mother to clear it out and begins to sense another presence there. That presence is the spirit of a woman who lived through the Chartist riots of the early 19th century.
The problem is that the solitary modern woman is alone with her impressions and thoughts most of the time, while, by contrast, the earlier woman is interacting with others and falling in love and doing things. This creates an imbalance between them. You finish the book wholly absorbed in the story and impressed with the power of this writer to set a scene, but with a niggling sense that you still don't really know the woman at the heart of it as well as you know the ghost.
Still, I would recommend this book highly. If there was a four and a half star option, this would be the place for it.
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on 30 December 2008
I read this book late into the night in two sittings with, as some books can lead you to have, a delightfully selfish disregard for all that I might need to do the next day. The storyline is one that made me speed through the pages, while the characters, which are captivating, memorable and strong, particularly the earlier inhabitants of the house, made me wish for the book to go on for longer. In Mr Moore Jo Baker has created a man that one feels quite desperate to know, and has also brought to life the historical movement of the chartists.

I came straight onto Amazon after finishing the last page so that I might look at the other two books she has written.
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on 1 November 2012
A beautifully written, hauntingly descriptive book. Set in2 different times in the same cottage, the author deals with the loss and grief experienced by 2 women. Rachel, living today "picks up the vibes" of Elizabeth,who lived in the 1850's ,however this is certainly not a ghost story . Recommended
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 31 March 2009
Dual timeframe novels about a woman discovering secrets buried in an old house seem to be ten a penny at the moment, but this is one of the best I've read recently. The historical aspect concerns the Chartists (a group I remember vaguely from A Level History) who were campaigning for rights and education for workers. Their enigmatic envoy Robert Moore, who is based on a real Chartist leader, comes to lodge in the house of a young girl, Elizabeth, and the tension between them mounts as Robert encourages Elizabeth's love of literature and she slowly becomes obsessed with him.

In the modern thread, Rachel is suffering from post-natal depression coupled with grief over the death of her mother, so when she starts to hear voices and feel strange sensations in the house her mother has bequeathed her, she thinks it's her mind playing tricks on her.

I did enjoy this aspect of the book but if I had to make a criticism it would be that, aside from living in the same house, the link between Rachel and Elizabeth's stories is a bit tenuous and I would have liked Rachel to have delved more deeply into the history of the house and found out more about Elizabeth's time there after her marriage. Still a highly recommended read though.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2009
I find this book quite difficult to rate. There are two stories:one present day and one from the past. I thoroughly enjoyed the history about the Chartists and how the people tried to deal with the injustice of the system. The characters were vivid and the plot was very interesting. However, the present day story, which was presumably just to present the historical plot, was extremely boring and the protagonist was bland. The story would have worked far better on its own as a historical novel instead of the writer trying to prissy up the plot with the ghost story which, in my opinion, didn't work.
Overall though, worth reading for a historical interest.
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on 23 October 2012
A slightly odd book I found. Rachel drives to the cottage left by her mother who has recently died, finds a room with a book case, and then we switch to a nineteenth century story of Elizabeth, a housemaid living in the same house (as we eventually work out).

The historical bit was enjoyable and interesting, and gave some insight into what life might have been like for a young girl living and working in the village where the story is set. We learned of the incoming Chartist who came to lodge, evicting Lizzie and her sister from their bedroom, and setting up a reading group for the local men. He also encouraged Elizabeth to read, and provided a range of books for her.

In the modern day Rachel wandered about, procrastinating about sorting out her mother's belongings so she could return to her husband and family, and learning a little about the previous inhabitants of the cottage. There were hints of it being a ghost story, but it really didn't take off as such. In fact what kept me reading was the description of the village, which although not actually named in the book, was very clearly described and totally recognisable to anyone who knows it.
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