If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar
|If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: An interesting story of life on a hospital ward; we have three perspectives of the same story, with unexpected outcomes.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: August 2017|
On ward 9B, Frank lies still, seemingly unresponsive, unable to communicate with the outside world. But though he lacks speech or visible response, he doesn't lack awareness. He can hear what is going on around him, and on his long road to recovery it is the comings and goings on the rest of the ward that keep him going. Cassie is the latest admission, a girl much younger than him who has been in an accident and is now in a coma. Her loving family visit regularly, but Frank astutely notes there is more to them, and to Cassie, than meets the eye. And finally there's Alice, a nurse on the ward who believes in Frank when the medics are doubtful. She knows he is more aware than others think, but also appreciates his current quiet state, confiding things in him she cannot trust herself to share with others who might blab.
This book has three threads to it, one for each of the characters. We hear Frank's voice in the here and now, observing what is going on within the ward, and reflecting on his own state of health. He is so frustrated to be wide awake but considered asleep, completely with it and not in the vegetative state others suspect. Alice too, is in the present, but she has the opportunity to leave the ward, and so we have her home life and her work life, seeing both her perspective on the same issues Frank talks about, but also her wider story too about what happens after hours, both good and bad. And then there's Cassie. We don't know what she's like now, how much she is aware of, but her story is set in the past, in the months, weeks and days leading up to the accident that left her like this. As time jumps forward the stories ease together, winding round each other to an epilogue that finishes with a neat knot, sealing the end of the story.
It's an interesting read, but not quite as gripping as some others, including another recent Coma read of mine, Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney which I really could not put down. In comparison, this one seemed to ramble more, and did not have quite the same hook. I enjoyed reading it but could easily put it down for a day or so, and didn't feel that insatiable pull for just one more chapter. The story is a little more long-winded than it needed to be from my perspective. The writing was good and the characters were alive on the pages, but I wanted the whole thing to be a bit 'tighter'. This was a book with some padding, some winter weight, and it was sometimes hard to see the sculpted summer body underneath.
I would like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy so I could experience this book. If this sort of book appeals, you might also enjoy The First Wife by Emily Barr.
You can read more book reviews or buy If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.