Wednesday 19 June 2013

The Things We Never Said by Susan Elliot Wright

The Past shapes us all. But what happens when it hides a secret that changes everything? The chapters in the book swap between Maggie's life in the past and Jonathan's in the present day (2008) before both arriving at 2009. In 1964 Maggie wakes up in a mental asylum with no real recollection of who she is or how she came to be there. After the chapters on her life in the institution they then move further back in time and gradually explain what has happened to her and the reasons she was committed. Teacher Jonathan lives with his pregnant wife Fiona, he's grieving the death of his father but he was a cold and difficult man to get on with and they were never close. A detective looking into unsolved crimes from long ago arrives at Jonathan's house asking him questions and this leads to family secrets from his past being revealed. I enjoyed this book and the short, alternating chapters made it easy to keep reading and kept my interest all the way through and even though I had an idea early on of what one of the secrets was I didn't work out others. I loved Maggie and the story of her descent into mental illness was heartbreaking and believable, how different people with it were treated and thought of in the 1960s, she has to have electroshock treatment! I did find Jonathan and Fiona a little annoying and unlikeable though, for most of the book I thought he was self centered. There's a quote on the cover that says 'If you love Maggie O'Farrell, you will love this' and I agree that it will appeal to fans of her novels. Rating: 4 out of 5

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