Review – How It Was – Janet Ellis

I received notification of this book via a Net Galley email and I must say that what attracted me to it was the fact that a mother-daughter relationship is featured.

Title: How It Was

Author: Janet Ellis

Format: ARC ebook

Publisher: John Murray Press, Two Roads

About the Book:

Marion Deacon sits by the hospital bed of her dying husband, Michael. Outwardly she is, as she says, an unremarkable old woman. She has long concealed her history – and her feelings – from the casual observer. But as she sits by Michael’s bed, she’s haunted by memories from almost forty years ago . . .

Marion Deacon is a wife and mother, and not particularly good at being either. It’s the 1970s and in her small village the Swinging 60s, the wave of feminism, the prospect of an exciting life, have all swerved past her. Reading her teenage daughter’s diary, it seems that Sarah is on the threshold of getting everything her mother Marion was denied, and Marion cannot bear it – what she does next has terrible and heart-breaking consequences for the whole family.

Janet Ellis writes of the exquisite pain of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the complexity of family and a mother-daughter relationship that is as memorable as it is utterly believable.

My Thoughts:

There are some things that I really like about this book.  This includes the minutiae of domestic life that is captured as Marion remembers back several decades when her children were younger.

I did find it a little confusing cutting from the different points of view.  For instance Michael’s as he is dying, Marion’s in the present day and back in the past.  As well as excerpts from Sarah’s diary that her mother finds and starts to read.

At the heart of this book is the fact that Marion has two affairs.  You can tell that something tragic is going to happen and when it does, it really is quite moving and upsetting.

Having said that though, I still think it is a worthwhile read.

Thank you to the publisher who provided this review copy via Net Galley.