When Ella married the handsome, celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair at just nineteen she was madly in love. Now, those blissful years of marriage have turned into the very definition of an unconventional set-up. Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella's ramshackle farmhouse.
With an ex-husband living under her nose and a home crowded by hostile teenaged children and gender-confused chickens - not to mention her hyper-critical mother whose own marriage is slipping spectacularly off the rails - Ella finds comfort in the company of the very charming gardener, Ludo.
Then out of the blue Sebastian decides to move on, catching Ella horribly unawares. How much longer can she hide from what really destroyed her marriage... and the secret she continues to keep?
©2013 Catherine Alliott (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Ella married Sebastian with the plan of them both being famous artists. The plan didn't quite work out, although Sebastian made a name for himself before losing his muse. The two separated, but not quite. After the family moves to a farm two kids later, Sebastian jettisons himself to one of the outer buildings and soon becomes the husband who lived next door.
Early on in the book as Ella thinks back to when the two were madly in love, there is a brief reference to a secret which bonded the two in a special way. After that we are given a parade of characters stemming from Ella's parents, to Sebastian's aunt, to Ludo, the gardener with whom Ella is having a non sexual affair. Throughout the book Ella whines. We are constantly in her head and the action is minimal, as is the tension. And the secret? We never hear about it again until the very last pages of the book. At that point it is irrelevant because unless you are an extremely determined reader, you'll never finish the book.
The dialogue is superficial at best and Alliott doesn't get the teenage dialogue of her children right. It is unrealistic, particularly in Ella's son. Even at 17 or 18, no kid that age would talk like he does, even in a permissive home which Ella seems to cultivate.
The book itself is dull, slow paced and pointless. There are no real laughs. The character that is the most well developed and who shows real personal growth is Ella's mother. Ella, herself, is whiny and overreactive on multiple levels. The reader grows weary of her early on, but continues reading in hope that something, anything, will happen.
This is my first experience with an Alliott novel and I have no intention of buying another one. The narrator, Alison Reid, does very well, but I feel sorry for her that her talent was wasted on such a poor novel.
it took much to long to develop. it couldn't keep my attention, I kept waiting for it to get better
The dialoque is unconvincing
It would not help, the story is too weak
Dont waste time and money on this book
"Maddening at times - but addictive"
This is a strange book, but oddly compelling. Reviews were mixed, but I decided to give it a go and I'm glad I did.
The story is told by Ella, sometimes in action but the majority in her thoughts. The prologue was off-putting, and her introspective reflections on her 'will I, won't I?' affair with Ludo dragged so much I nearly gave up.
What kept me interested were the other people - her parents, separating after 40 odd years when her controlling mother leaves her easygoing father to shock him, only to have the tables turned by him apparently enjoying life far more without her. Her sister, who outwardly has life under control, with perfect teenagers who contrast horribly with Ella's own lazy son and daughter. But most of all, her relationship with Sebastian, her husband, still at the farm but no longer in the family home.
This book made me think and as it developed, to consider some of my own behaviours. If it had been shorter, concentrating more on the very well drawn family relationships and less on the boring Ella/Ludo aspect it could have been a total winner.
Still glad I stuck with it though.
"easy listening & entertaining"
Definitley. The narrator was very good & read the story really well. I laughed & cried at parts & didnt want the story to come to an end. After a while I got lost in the story while doing my housework. I wake up a lot in the night so my Kindle is under my pillow so I just plug in my earphones & listen to the story unfolding until I fall asleep.
It was easy to listen to and funny.
There were so many scenes that I enjoyed I cant pick 1.
When the children went to stay at their fathers in Oxford & when Sebastian went to see Ella after he read her letter.
I loved how you followed the journey of the whole family to an extent, how you start to like some characters and dislike others as they unfold.
When Ella spies on Sebastian in The Granary and is caught out. I was cringing for and with her! I also never thought of Ella as a ditsy flowery dress wearing type, and when she is approached in Oxford and spoken to outside the museum, it is really quite an eye opener and the listener starts understanding her encounters more.
It was well read and she was enjoyable to listen to, bringing the story to life really well.
"Not so funny. ..."
Not as funny as a lot of Catherine's work, but covered a lot of emotions.
This was the most boring story I have listened to so far. Listened for 5 hours thinking it might improve, but it didn't. Can't listen anymore. If you like chickens you might like it.
Narrator was OK
No redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Boring boring & boring
"Second class Bridget Jones"
I make it a priority to finish what I start and all the time I thought that I had already read this book but in fact I hadn't.
My husband next door was a second class version of Bridget Jones There's something about a boy. To sammy in my opinion
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