I truly enjoyed this story. As an adult woman with grown children, close in age to the main character and having grown up in the 1970s, I related to the memories described in Jo's story and the emotions she experiences as an adult. I liked the characters and feel they were fairly well developed. I would have liked to see more compassion for all that Jo went through, especially toward the end when all of her secrets are revealed but I think the emotional pain she suffered through without much support, is probably more realistic. My heart just ached for her as a young girl grieving and trying to find her way alone in the world and as the older, wiser successful professional who risked all the security she had gained to uncover painful hidden secrets because it was the right thing to do. Though I could pretty much predict what her secrets were from very early on in the story, there were still a few details I wasn't sure about and found myself reading way past bedtime to find out what those details were. The writing is very good and I enjoyed learning a little more about the UK through looking up the meaning to words we don't use in North America. This is one of those stories I found myself thinking about long after I finished the book. It felt more like a memoir than a novel. I would highly recommend this, especially to Mothers with grown children.
When I bought this book, I somehow failed to notice it was written by a Brit. Although I love Brit humor. I do often find their novels a challenge to read. For no good reason that I can well explain, but, at any rate, I found The Secrets We Left Behind to be an exception. Read on to find out what I liked...
Length: Print, 385 pages.
Target Audience/Genre: This is a Mystery Suspense story.
Q - What was the Amazon Rank on the date this review was published? A - 732.
Q - How was this book obtained? A - Purchased.
Q - Is this a book that I can read without having to read others first? A – Yes.
Q - Are there a lot of typos/misspellings, grammatical errors or other editing failures? A – No, but it is written in UK English.
Q - Is this a fast, easy read or is it more of a leisure read? A – The Secrets We Left Behind is a leisure read.
Q - What sort of language does this writer use to amplify the points made? A – Plain, Adult English, but as spoken in the UK, as opposed to North America. Among the profanities, the f-bomb is fairly commonly used.
Q - My biggest pleasure or disappointment? Beware, the answer here might come across as a spoiler, so I'm giving you the chance to cover your eyes and not read the answer paragraph...
A - The ending is as a reader might suspect, something of a cliffhanger. I don't think this ending will really disappoint readers, though, as, by the time you get to this point, I don't see any other option.
I do wish there was more dialogue in this story. The interchange between characters can be a good tool to break up, even to describe, the settings. But also, dialogue is a great tool to set up intrigue, which I think would help drive this story.
I’ve included a small excerpt below, so readers can peruse the style of presentation utilized by the author.
When I saw where Scott was staying, I felt quite hopeful about persuading him to take the money. It was a dump, one in a row of terraced red-brick houses, all with satellite dishes like ugly growths sprouting from their walls. Some of the windows were boarded up, while others framed filthy net curtains or had blankets nailed across. A broken television lay outside one house, its guts spilling out onto the pavement; the whole street was littered with empty pizza and burger boxes, beer cans, cigarette ends and dog s***. Number 89 was smaller than the others, stuck on the end as though the builders had found they had a few bricks left over and thought they might as well use them up by throwing together one more tiny house to finish off the terrace, like a makeweight. There was an overturned wheelie bin in the front yard and a scrawny-looking black cat chewing vigorously on a bone from a KFC box. The cat hissed as I approached, eyed me warily for a moment, then carried on chewing, the tip of its tail flicking sharply from side to side. There was no doorbell, so I knocked hard on the peeling front door and waited. Just as I was about to knock again, my phone pinged: Come round the back. Door open.
You had to go through a shared gennel to get to the back door, which opened into the kitchen. I could immediately smell incense—patchouli; it was so evocative I almost expected Eve to appear and offer me a cup of chamomile tea. On the windowsill was a plastic tray of dried-up soil that had shrunken away from the sides, and a saucer containing a rusty key, a couple of corks and an open packet of seeds, mung beans, by the look of it. An old image flashed up: egg boxes crammed onto the kitchen windowsill in Hastings, the tender young shoots of cress, mung beans and alfalfa sprouts, bright green sparks of life pushing their way up through the soil and into the light.
‘Hello?’ I called.
'In here,’ came the weak reply. He looked dreadful, thinner, if that was possible, than he had last week, and his eyes seemed yet further sunken into his face. He sat in an armchair, his feet up on a wooden stool with a woven canvas top. I wondered if he’d made the stool himself; it was the sort of thing he used to do.
'So, how are you?’ Usually when we asked this question, we didn’t really want to know the answer, but I did want to know now.
'Had better days,’ he said. ‘Had worse, though.’ There was no colour left in his voice. My eyes strayed to the guitar that hung on the wall in one of the alcoves. I wondered when he’d last been able to sing. ‘A long time since I’ve made music,’ he said, as if reading my mind. The wallpaper in here was dark, with an old-fashioned leafy pattern, and there was a torn and faded poster bearing the words: If God gives you...
I like this author's skill in setting a scene. She is able to go into great detail in setting that so that all of your senses are affected. But, doing so too often can lead to a slow read if one gets too deep into that. Fortunately, the writer does not. Still, although what dialogue there is, is very well done, so I can't criticize too harshly.
Four stars out of five.
Comments regarding your opinion of this book or of my review, whether favorable or unfavorable, are always welcome. If you buy the book based on my review and become disappointed, especially, I do want to know that and I want to understand how I can improve as a book reviewer. Just please be polite.
This is not a lighthearted story. But it is a compelling read and one of those books that you keep thinking about after you finish it. If you want to learn more about the lack of rights for women in the early 20th century, this is a great example.
absorbing.. the change in time from the current decade back to the 70's, and back to current time took a minute to get used to.. but I found myself lost in her story. Can't write much without spoiling it, and I dd NOT expect the ending of the 70's portion.. (perhaps I missed some clues?) a good read.
It was a struggle to get to the end, there was the basic story of love , for friend,for child, for mother, for husband not so much as it seemed as more gratitude. The end of the story was disturbing to say the least,burrrrrrrr!
The entire narrative has a feeling of disaster to it, and it made this a very depressing book to read. The writing is good, but I knew where the story was going and how it would end. No surprises, just unrelenting misery.
I enjoyed the two stories being told at once. The characters were likeable, yet had their flaws. I enjoy Wright's style of storytelling. It draws you in and makes you feel like you're in the novel with the characters. Well done.