|What's Left Unsaid by Deborah Stone|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Absorbing story of family secrets, the breakdown of a marriage, and a parent with dementia. Delicately written, handling some distressing events with great sensitivity and building tension well.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: July 2018|
Sasha has a lot on her plate. Husband Jeremy is distant and absent and the marriage needs work. Son Zac is entering a rebellious adolescent phase and it's hard to know how to redirect him. Mother Annie, an alcoholic, is beginning the journey into dementia and has never been an easy person at the best of times. Thank heavens for her lovely dog, Sebastian, and his unconditional love. Zac decides he would like to make a film about the family, which should be a positive, affirming project. But, in the course of interviewing Annie for it, he stumbles across a long-kept family secret about the sibling he does not know. This secret propels Sasha back twenty years to a night she would rather forget, and Annie back decades further to a different but equally traumatic one.
What's Left Unsaid was an absorbing read. It's told in alternating first person perspectives by Sasha, Annie and Joe and takes us into a post-war past as well as an unfolding present. Joel's entries are short interjections and often really rather profound. Annie's memories are jumbled and confused but reveal so much about the ways in which events from childhood and youth have brought to bear on her adult life and especially her relationship with her daughter. Sasha's is a journey of discovery, really. I quickly became invested in all three characters and deeply curious to uncover the secrets being carried through the years that were clearly such burdens for all concerned.
The book is delicately written, handling some distressing events with great sensitivity and building tension well. Annie is a challenging woman and at times it is hard not to dislike her but, as the book goes on, you can see why she became as she is. The fog of her dementia is also handled well, with Stone showing rather than telling. It's sad. Sasha, I wished the best for, as she struggles to maintain a good relationship with her recalcitrant teenage son whose usual adolescent angst is compounded by resentment at discovering family secrets that had been kept from him.
What's Left Unsaid is a sympathetic but honest look at the ways in which our lives and our most precious personal relationships are as affected by what is not said as they are by what is said. Secrets are like pebbles in ponds: the ripples they leave are insistent and persistent and bear down upon us whether we like it or not. Deborah Stone's novel illuminates this truth and gives us pause for thought about our own lives and the things we ourselves are keeping hidden. It's written with honesty but also with compassion and understanding.
More like this, please! I'll be interested to read whatever Deborah Stone writes next.
You can read more book reviews or buy What's Left Unsaid by Deborah Stone at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy What's Left Unsaid by Deborah Stone at Amazon.com.
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