My thanks go out to the lovely Sarah, representing publisher Bookouture, for securing me a spot on this ‘Books On Tour’ journey.
As ever, additional thanks go out to NetGalley, for their excellent download and review service.
HER SILENT HUSBAND
When we got married all those years ago you said you’d protect me. We built a family and a happy, stable home. You said we were a team. But now I’m holding my daughter’s hand all alone as you lie still in your hospital bed. You’ve left me to look after our children all by myself. I will never understand why.
The moment Beth finds out that her husband Drew is in a coma her entire world comes crashing down. With four children to care for, and her six-year-old daughter Ceci still recovering from heart surgery, she can’t imagine how she’ll be able to manage on her own.
But then she finds out that Drew tried to end his own life. And as she desperately waits to find out if he’ll wake up, she must grapple with the devastating idea that he may not want to.
Beth has no idea why Drew would do this, but when his sister Gemma arrives at hospital she seems less surprised – there were terrible secrets that Drew had been keeping from Beth. Lies about his past and the person he really is. Lies that will change everything Beth thought she knew about her husband and could tear her perfect family life apart…
She loves a story that can make her feel deeply, cry hard, appreciate the present moment and change her life for the better – if only for a little while.
As a child, Sam was forever getting in trouble for being caught with her nose in a book, and these days are no different.
She lives on the south coast of England with her husband, two children and a cat that thinks it’s a dog.
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“I’d expected something different. Something far different from this. Today I turned forty-one years old and the things I’d hoped I would know by now have yet to materialise. I thought I’d understand my purpose. That I’d feel calmer, more stable. That the hurts of my past would no longer visit me at night and I’d have figured out the secret to being happy. Whole. A complete person, as opposed to these fragmented shards I continue to cling to, certain that any moment they might scatter to the ground for all to see”
BETH – Day One
“The house phone was ringing, the trilling sound sending waves of irritation through me as I piled through the front door, laden with overflowing shopping bags, watching Amelie and Cecilia run into the kitchen without bothering to take off their school shoes and Rufus drop his satchel on the floor”
“I know that life isn’t always fair – that pain gets dished out to hard-working, kind-hearted people, while others who are far less deserving leapfrog the hurdles with ease. I know that life is not an adventure – it’s a treadmill, and every year I find myself gripping tighter to the handrails for fear of being flung off”
” But sometimes it would have been nice if he’d offered to step in and help. Just because I didn’t complain didn’t mean I didn’t sometimes feel like I was drowning”
“My guilt was a chain attached to his hospital bed, forcing me to step up and for once in my life be the one to take care of him”
“Hate and love. Longing and despair. Pain and hope. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to untangle one feeling from another again”
“She expected so much from all her children, and the result was that she’d raised a brood of hyper-critical humans with low self-esteem. They didn’t know how to function without praise, and the minute something strayed from the plan, they tore themselves to pieces, unable to accept failure”
“I thought I could wipe my history clean, you know? Just ignore the bits that hurt, but it turned toxic in my mind, and I found that the more I tried to forget, the brighter the memories burned. They fought to be heard, and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t strong enough”
“Is a mother’s love enough to save a family?”
More tissues please! That one, small handy-pack, just isn’t enough! Tears of sorrow, turn to tears of sadness, turn to tears of hope, turn to tears of joy – but definitely all tears of the heart-wrenching, very wet variety!
I couldn’t have predicted the coincidence that I would have found myself reading this particular book, at this precise moment in time, you really couldn’t make it up! Setting an objective tone for this review is going to be especially difficult, as the storyline was so very close to home and personal for me right now, so I was able to put myself totally in Beth’s shoes and see so many things from her perspective – and that didn’t always make me feel comfortable, or in a good place, so I hope that doesn’t make me too biased in my thinking! If the ending to my own story is as satisfying as that of the Spencer-Rhodes family, then I shall be more than happy, but I guess that any outcomes for me are going to be what I make them, much as they were for Beth!
No real sense of time or place, no death-defying, action fuelled plot. Just a beautifully fluid and compelling blend of story and characters, with emotions and family tensions providing the rather disturbing backdrop for some wonderfully descriptive, observational narrative, and desperately brutal, painfully honest dialogue.
Although this story was narrated from a few alternative perspectives and travelled back and forth over a period of several years, the chapters were very easy to follow, as the cast was relatively small and easy to keep track of, which meant that the finished book never felt ‘bitty’ or disjointed.
Is it so wrong to want a better start in life and continued financial security for yourself and your family, than you had in your own childhood – no matter that your own upbringing was the best it could possibly have been at the time and in the prevailing circumstances, and that you had never been deprived of that most important of commodities – love, which is free for everyone!
So now you have your own family, what happens when your perfectly constructed and choreographed life comes crashing down round your ears, leaving you disbelieving and devastated, yet angry and wanting revenge. When you and your partner are both left feeling individually hard done by, each convinced that the other is to blame, and each consumed by selfish thoughts of self-preservation and vindication? When you seem to have traded love and affection for security and betterment, and when it turns out that you don’t really know each other after all these years together, as you have never taken the time to allow him to open up about his own past and the demons he carries with him to this day. You give no real thought to the immense pressure you are putting him under to keep you and the children in the style to which you have become accustomed, and you fail to notice the mental anguish you are causing him and the hidden stress you are heaping on the children in your efforts to secure their social status, when all they really want is to spend quality family time with you, have your undivided attention and know that they are loved and accepted unconditionally.
This was a well structured, intense, multi-layered story, completely immersive, wonderfully textured and with powerful moral values and family ethics at its heart. As the storyline was busy taking shape, moments of anything resembling light-hearted banter or god forbid, humour, were so few and far between, as to be almost be non-existent. So to feel the tensions ease and the entire aura surrounding the family lift and lighten as the climax of the book was reached and the plot began to wind down, was quite something to behold, and was so deeply visual, that I could almost feel myself letting go of that long-held breath and all that claustrophobic angst and grief; breathing in the fresh air of new beginnings.
Sam has created a cast of well drawn and defined characters, who develop and grow into their roles as their individual stories unfold and are brought to life. Yes, they are complex and emotionally starved, often raw and passionate, sometimes unreliable and volatile; however they are basically genuine and vulnerable, addictive and believable, and authentically true to the life they have been conditioned for. Their latent inner strength of humanity and passion, their joie de vivre and enthusiasm for life, has luckily not been lost though, and evolves as they are afforded the new found freedom to be themselves.
The one small niggle I did have, was that whilst the heart-warming future of new beginnings was satisfyingly wrapped up for Beth, Drew and the children, with Drew’s sister Gemma also finding a new and exciting focus for her life, I was left to ponder and wonder what became of Beth’s parents and her sister, who were so very pivotal to the storyline, and in fact, caused much of the stress and tension between Beth and Drew, albeit not in any way deliberately. However, that in no way diminished the emotional intensity and power of this storyline, so it still gets the big 5 star thumbs up! from me.
For me personally, reading is always such a joy, as each new book and story takes me on a journey which will offer me a unique experience whilst I am reading. This is definitely one of those storylines which has so many different perspectives, that I recommend you read it for yourself and see where your journey leads you.
And remember, never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes!
A complimentary kindle download of this book for review, was made available by the publisher and supplied by NetGalley.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!