Eleanor and her mother Marjorie have always had a difficult relationship and although they’ve tried, they have somehow just failed to connect.
Now Marjorie has Alzheimer’s, and as her memory fades, her grip on what she has kept hidden begins to loosen. When she calls her daughter to say, ‘There’s something I have to tell you’, Eleanor hopes this will be the moment she learns the truth about the terrible secret that has cast a shadow over both their lives.
But Marjorie’s memory is failing fast and she can’t recall what she wanted to say. Eleanor knows time is running out, and as she tries to gently uncover the truth before it becomes lost inside her mother’s mind forever, she begins to discover what really happened when she was a child – and why…
A story of family and secrets, perfect for fans of Maggie O'Farrell.
What She Lost by Susan Elliot Wright was published in paperback by Simon & Schuster UK on 9 March 2017. Back in February 2015, I read and review Susan Elliot Wright's debut novel, The Things We Never Said here on Random Things. I absolutely loved that book, the writing is beautiful and I've been looking forward to her new novel for a long time.
What She Lost is another beautifully constructed story that kept me spellbound. The reader is introduced to Marjorie in the prologue set in 1967. Marjorie is in the delivery suite in hospital, in labour with her second child. She already has a daughter and is delighted when she gives birth to a son, Peter. Her husband Ted will be thrilled to have a son. Their little family is complete.
However, Peter's birth does not bring the happiness and joy that the young couple had longed for. Instead, Peter is severely disabled, and so begins Marjorie's long and painful journey into depression and fear.
The story then moves to the present day. Marjorie's daughter Eleanor is now grown and living on a community farm in North Yorkshire. Eleanor's life has not been easy, and she and Marjorie are not close. The community at the farm are her adopted family, it's the place where she feels safe and wanted. However, blood is thicker than water, and it is clear that Marjorie's health is suffering and Eleanor can no longer rely on her mother's friend Peggy to cope with the effects.
What She Lost is an emotional and at times, wrenching story that deals with the darkest of secrets and the effects that lies and deception can have on a family. As Eleanor struggles to understand what it is that Marjorie is desperate to remember, old wounds are opened up and examined. This author ably deals with serious and often distressing issues, including teenage pregnancy, dementia and the stigma often associated with mental health and disability.
Susan Elliot Wright is a hugely talented author, this is a hauntingly tragic, yet very sympathetic novel populated with characters who the reader will come to care about and cheer for. The human emotion is conveyed so precisely, this really is a wonderfully observed story. I loved it and would recommend it highly.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
Susan Elliot Wright grew up in Lewisham in south-east London. Before becoming a full-time writer, she did a number of different jobs, including civil servant, cleaner, dishwasher, journalist, and chef.
She has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University, where she is now an associate lecturer, and she lives in Sheffield with her husband.
She is the author of The Things We Never Said and the Secrets We Left Behind.
To find out more, visit her website: www.susanelliotwright.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @sewelliot