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Five Days Gone

The Mystery of My Mother's Disappearance as a Child
Narrated by: Kate Reading
Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER 

Acclaimed New York Times best-selling author of The Vanishing Velazquez Laura Cumming shares the riveting story of her mother’s mysterious kidnapping as a toddler in a small English coastal village - and how that event reverberated through her own family and her art for decades. 

In the fall of 1929, when Laura Cumming’s mother was three years old, she was kidnapped from a beach on the Lincolnshire coast of England. There were no screams when she was taken, suggesting the culprit was someone familiar to her, and when she turned up again in a nearby village several days later, she was found in perfect health and happiness. No one was ever accused of a crime. The incident quickly faded from her memory, and her parents never discussed it. To the contrary, they deliberately hid it from her, and she did not learn of it for half a century. 

This was not the only secret her parents kept from her. For many years, while raising her in draconian isolation and protectiveness, they also hid the fact that she’d been adopted, and that shortly after the kidnapping, her name was changed from Grace to Betty. 

In Five Days Gone, Laura Cumming brilliantly unspools the tale of her mother’s life and unravels the multiple mysteries at its core. Using photographs from the time, historical documents, and works of art, Cumming investigates this case of stolen identity with the tool set of a detective and the unique intimacy of a daughter trying to understand her family’s past and its legacies. Compulsive, vivid, and profoundly touching, Five Days Gone is a masterful blend of memoir and history, an extraordinary personal narrative unlike any other. 

©2019 Laura Cumming (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

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

Might have been a better read than a listen....

Through a lot of this book the writer “quotes” her mother-as it is her mother’s story. However, when listening, one doesn’t know who is speaking if the voice never changes. It made major parts of the book quite difficult to follow.

Also, the author discusses pictures, both photographs as well as famous works, that I am assuming are included in the book. The famous works could of course be looked up, but I would have liked to see the photo George took of Veta paring apples for a pie.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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interesting social history

I heard the author talking about the book on NPR and since I am fascinated by social history I was intrigued. I chose the auto book so I could listen during my commute. the reader was great. the story was interesting and I could empathize with many characters. As for the writing, I often got confused as to whose perspective was being shared the main character or her daughter as the author (ie. the daughter) jumped back and forth a lot between her mother's memoir and her own recollection. also the downside of auto books is you cant see the pictures contained in the print book. so when the author goes into great detail about a painting or photograph and how it relates to some aspect of the story it got boring because I am unfamiliar with the piece and had no frame of reference. This story could easily have been a short story or magazine story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A gracious and vivid story

A gracious and vivid story reconstructed from memories lovingly shared between mother and daughter. Each chapter is perfectly framed in the details of illustrations, paintings, and photographs that imbue the author's life with significance. It is all in the service of teasing out reason and meaning from a collective silence once destined to obliterate a forbidden and difficult truth.

No more.

By this loving act of sleuthing and story Ms. Cumming weaves together a more complete narrative of Grace. It also holds each person involved in a truer light. That glow bathes the central figures in the warmth of redemption.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • RIVERSIDE, US, Canada
  • 09-20-19

Good story

You have to get all the way to the end to appreciate this book. ALL the way!

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Compelling and beautiful

I loved this book, it really draws you in with the mystery of it, but the eloquence of the writing makes it a delight from beginning to end.