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Publisher's Summary

"Jess is dead, and it's my fault".

Anna Macbeth has spent her whole life trying to escape from her past. She left the rural Yorkshire village where she grew up for life as a family lawyer in London, but what secrets did she take with her?

When a familiar voice telephones her with tragic news, Anna knows that running away is no longer an option, and that she has to return to face her demons.

What led Anna to flee from her home, and what is it that causes her to return?

Charcoal unfolds a dramatic sequence of events that demonstrate the consequences of desires.

©2012 JE Rowney (P)2020 JE Rowney

What listeners say about Charcoal

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not Just a Book, but an Experience

Charcoal, by J.E. Rowney, was an experience in and of itself. A quality experience, unique, and engaging.

It started out like any other book (so it seemed), setting the stage, introducing you to the characters, drawing your interest. At times, while the "mini-stories" were interesting, I wasn't sure of their purpose in the book. These sort of short stories, encompassed in their own chapters, seemed to be additional entertainment or something that helped to flesh out the characters more. And, besides, even these somewhat unrelated mini-stories were interesting and kept the book flowing at a nice pace, so they definitely added value and interest.

But, then, I realized, there was nothing unintentional about any aspect of this novel. It was like a child cleaning every morsel of food off their plate and realizing that every aspect of the meal related to another aspect and complemented the entire ensemble. It is the same way with this book. Every aspect, every line, every chapter, even every breath felt as you took in this novel, prepared you in a way that you did not realize at the time. That is why I say that this book isn't just a book, it is an experience.

Before you were fully aware of it, you were completely immersed in the experience of the book, and no longer felt like a bystander but experiencing the emotion, the pain, the turmoil, and even the moments of joy and ecstasy along with the main characters, especially Anna.

This is a sad story, true. It is one that caused me to even ask myself, along with the main character, Anna, how things could have been done differently. At what point in time, could all of the pain have been averted, or minimized? How does one aspect of one character's life affect another aspect and not only that but aspects of other people's lives? This novel was almost a study in psychology itself (which IS my area of study, btw), helping one to understand the intricacies of this synchronous relationship between people, their thoughts, their behaviors, their actions (or lack of actions), and how there is no such thing as a calculated outcome and yet there are commonalities that exist when characteristics interrelate and interact on the playing field of life.

Even weeks after reading this book, and taking my own unplanned "break" from life while fighting off a cold/flu, I still would wake up in the morning thinking about Anna, the loss of her child, the loss of her best friend, the loss of her lover-who-shouldn't-be-her-lover. It was as if I was feeling that pain with Anna, and not just reading about it in a book... even weeks after "hearing" the story of Anna. That isn't something that all novelists or writers can accomplish, to be able to insert the reader into the storyline to a point where the book almost becomes real. Oh, sure, a momentary commonality with the emotion is fairly normal and attainable, but for the entire book, every morsel of every chapter, to interrelate and impact the reader to that point, that is a talent on the part of J.E. Rowney. And, to accomplish this when the is no commonality between the story and that of the life of the reader/reviewer, that is a gift. J.E. Rowney is that gifted and I would welcome another book by this author.

Note: I was provided with a review copy of this book. I have written this review honestly and voluntarily.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Not a feel good story.

I am a fan of "feel good" stories. This is NOT one. This is a "this is what happens," a "true to life" story. Domestic abuse has far reaching effects. This story is.....Friendship. Promises. Choices. Bad decisions. Cheating. Lies. Life.
I was gifted an Audible version of this book from the author through Story Origin at my request. I enjoyed the narrator's reading, but it did take some getting use to. She has a strong accent and I couldn't understand some words. She read in almost a cadence, almost sing song voice. But I was able to fully feel the characters in the story. So it worked for me.
This my honest, voluntary review.

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This was a year jerker

What a story. It made me sad, happy & at times mad. What a horrible life that Anna had at first. Her poor mother, it was a wonder she survived. Then she had Jess. Her best friend that helped her through all the turmoil. Then Tim came a long. What a piece of crap he ended up being. Jess & Tim should have been happy but the anguish Jess created over not getting pregnant. made secrets & lies after pushing Tim to Anna. I hated Anna for it. The end as Jess took her life was a tragedy.

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Consequences of decisions...

The story starts out with the heartbreaking outcome. Then we learn the complete story starting from when Anna and Jess are just young girls all the way through adulthood. A very realistic story that could hit very close to home for some people.

I was surprised at how well J.E. Rowney was able to bring out the full range of emotions with her writing. I knew from the opening paragraphs that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending, but I had a much stronger emotional response than I expected. Such a tragic story.

Teresa-May Whittaker did this story justice with her narration. I was so drawn into the performance, it was like I was watching the events unfold around me.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and I have voluntarily left this review.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

***spoiler alert***

As I've been cheated on, this made things hard for me to relate and connect with the characters. for me - nothing excuses cheating.
I felt the author touched both sides, and at times explained their reasonings, but I couldn't relate.
It's a good woman-fiction book, but it wasn't for me.
I received a free review copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

tragic, no happy endings to be found

A beautifully written story of mistakes and bad decisions. Full of heartbreaking moments, this read follows the lives of Anna and Jess from childhood to adulthood. Secrets, lies, deception and deceit around eve egg y turn and selfish wants make for poor decisions. This is such a good read/listen is the most tragic of ways. Narration was well done, smooth and consistent.

I received a free copy of this book at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Wonderfully, Devastating Saga

Anna, Jess and Tim are forever locked in a devastating saga.

Anna came from a broken home. Her course in life was permanently altered from the beginning. She was a broken mess who wanted to protect herself from the home life she had known first.

Enter Jess. Jess is sweet, loving and full of life. Her family had become a safe haven for Anna. The girls were inseparable in everything and had even become blood sisters, though not with the big knife Anna had lead with.

As they grew, they began to change into their own women. One day, Tim enters the picture. Anna is on guard and has no trust for his "games". Jess is loves him, despite Anna's preconceptions.

Life goes it's own way and they all grew apart. Then they begin to grow together, in all the wrong ways. Some roads are easy to go down, but are impossible to reverse.

The story starts at the end and seamlessly wraps around to the to finish where it began. The devastation is beautifully craft and rends the heart in twain effortlessly.

The narrator does well, though it took a moment to adjust to her cadence.

I will never forget this book, it's details etched in to my memory forever. It is a beautiful story and is a definite one to listen to.

I received a free copy from the author in return for an honest review.

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A beautiful but sad story

Charcoal is not a happy story. It found me at a time in my life when I was already feeling down, yet I wasn't able to stop listening to the audiobook. I wanted to know more. Which says a lot about the book, because the ending of the story is "spoiled" in the short synopsis, and still, I wanted to find out what lead to that point. Unlike many other stories, this one was not about a big twist at the end, it was more about the journeys of the characters that lead them there.
I'm still not sure how to feel about the characters. They had many flaws, but the author gave us enough reasons and explanations on why they acted in a certain way and why they kept making mistakes. And who are we to judge them, really?
All in all, I'd recommend this book to those who want a tough read instead of a light chic-lit and who are not afraid to feel a little heartbreak when the story is over.

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  • Naty
  • 03-10-21

heartbreaking

Two best friends. A young and broken pact to not date a boy ever and stay together. And big secret keep hidden between them that will bring them sadness and tragedy. Great audiobook