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The Cookbook of Common Prayer

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When Gill and Gabe's elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth. A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasma When Gill and Gabe's elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth. A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down - and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.


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When Gill and Gabe's elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth. A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasma When Gill and Gabe's elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth. A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down - and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

30 review for The Cookbook of Common Prayer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie

    This is a beautifully written book about grief and how each person deals with it. Dougie has died in a pot holing accident and his mother wants to keep the truth from his sister who is anorexic and sometimes suicidal. She writes letters supposedly from Dougie but how can she continue to hide the truth. Sad in many ways, but I recommend this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alison Duhan

    A good story, but I listened to this as an audiobook and couldn’t stand the bad accent that the narrator used when speaking as the Irish character. It made me want to fast-forward or mute entirely. Beyond this, Rosa’s character was horribly stereotyped. She drinks too much and says things like “me broken arm” instead of “my”. I’ve never heard anyone Irish say that - it sounds like what an American would make a leprechaun say. Gross.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hannah May Book Reviews

    Title: The Cookbook of Common Prayer Author: Francesca Haigh Pub: Allen and Unwin Pages: 424 Rating: 5/5 A huge thank you to the author, Allen and Unwin publishing and Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of the blog tour. Synopsis: Gill and Gabe’s eldest son sadly dies by drowning overseas. Scared for their unwell daughter, the hide the truth, scared that the truth could result in her dying too. The family begin to break down as Gabe tries to tie up lose ends and Gill begins to send lett Title: The Cookbook of Common Prayer Author: Francesca Haigh Pub: Allen and Unwin Pages: 424 Rating: 5/5 A huge thank you to the author, Allen and Unwin publishing and Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of the blog tour. Synopsis: Gill and Gabe’s eldest son sadly dies by drowning overseas. Scared for their unwell daughter, the hide the truth, scared that the truth could result in her dying too. The family begin to break down as Gabe tries to tie up lose ends and Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister. The lie potentially becomes more dangerous than the truth. As well as seeing how a family can break down however, we also see the unexpected wats in which it can be put back together. Review: The title of this book caught my attention, it was unlike any title I have seen before and as a result I wanted to find out which kind of read this would be and I have to say I enjoyed that we discover the meaning of the title in the book. The description also sounded like this could be an emotional rollercoaster of a read, very different from my usual dark reads and therefore I was looking forward to something that could hit me in my heart strings. Family is very important to me which was another factor which made this book a must read. It sounded very unique and different and I was eager to get stuck in and it is safe to say my gut instinct was right about this wonderful book. The first thing you noticed when reading this book is the jump in character perspectives. I feel this really made this book special because you could hear and feel what the characters were thinking and hearing and this really touched you on a deep level due to the story line. Francesca is evidently a gifted writer because her writing in this book was simply beautiful. I could feel and imagine every single word. In the sadness of her story, there were some really uplifting moments where Francesca was able to make you smile. I connected well with all the characters, I honestly wanted to reach into the book and hug them all. In particular though, I really connected with Teddy, I felt for him and could feel the weight he was holding on his shoulders as he tried to piece everything back together. Papabee is another character I adored as I found I could relate to him as a family member in my family is currently going through memory loss due to dementia. He did have me thinking at one point that maybe sometimes being oblivious could be a blessing. I honestly found myself immersed in this story to the point I’d realised I hadn’t written many notes. This was an honest story about grief but yet it wasn’t too sad that it become depressing. I didn’t know what to expect when picking up this book but it definitely ended up being better than what I thought. This really was a story about loss, love, grief and how families, despite their struggles can pull together. This beautiful book will continue to stay with me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    If only stories like this one resolved so quickly and nicely in real life… Unfortunately that’s the problem with this book. It’s exceptionally realistic (and, as a result, traumatic) until the last 50 or so pages, at which point it just seems like the book needed to be finished. Teddy is clearly the best character.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I was lucky enough to be gifted a proof copy through Appleton Readers. The book is a masterpiece, weaving the narratives and secrets of a family struggling through some of the toughest times of their lives. Having picked the book up this morning I have not put it down; it kept me going until the very last page and I was still left wanting more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Cooper

    The Jordan family comprises Gill and Gabe (Mum and Dad), Dougie, Sylvie and Teddy (their three children) and PappaBee (Gabe’s father). They live in Tasmania and are just about managing to keep their heads above water as they struggle to do their best for Sylvie who has been in hospital for three years with anorexia and nobody is sure if she is going to make it. And then tragedy strikes and Dougie is killed in a caving accident in England. The family is in turmoil as each of them try to find thei The Jordan family comprises Gill and Gabe (Mum and Dad), Dougie, Sylvie and Teddy (their three children) and PappaBee (Gabe’s father). They live in Tasmania and are just about managing to keep their heads above water as they struggle to do their best for Sylvie who has been in hospital for three years with anorexia and nobody is sure if she is going to make it. And then tragedy strikes and Dougie is killed in a caving accident in England. The family is in turmoil as each of them try to find their own ways of coping. Each of the main characters has a voice, taking turns to give their perspective on the narrative as it unfolds. The title of the book comes from the fact that Gill is a food writer and starts cooking obsessively, with recipes designed to help deal with the crisis of the moment (the day the police tell you your son has died, the day you land in England to collect your son’s body etc.). The story is liberally interspersed with these recipes. Gradually the family starts to fall apart – the question is, can they put themselves back together? This is an extraordinary book which delivers on so many levels. Despite the horrendous situation that the family find themselves in, it is not a depressing book. On the contrary it is fast-paced, gripping and almost addictive. The loss of a much-loved son and brother is examined with a gravitas entirely appropriate to the situation. The coping mechanisms adopted by each of the parents are scrutinised in detail and come across as being entirely authentic. The very real struggles of their anorexic daughter who wants nothing more than to be allowed to die provide a stark backdrop to the tragedy as her parents try to protect her from the knowledge of what has happened to her brother. And then in the midst of all this tragedy are Pappabee who has dementia and Teddy, their youngest son, who inadvertently provide light relief just by being themselves. This is a book about families and how they cope in the direst of circumstances. Gill and Gabe have very different ways of coping with their grief but their frenzied activities are, ultimately, acts of denial, tactics used to avoid confronting the real issue. We accompany them on their journeys through this process as they begin to confront what has happened and find their way back to each other. This book has a very high rating on Goodreads and deservedly so. I can think of nothing I would change about the book at all. Unbeknown to me at the time of reading this book, I had come across this author before. She wrote a post-apocalyptic trilogy which I adored and couldn’t put down. This book has nothing obviously to connect it with that trilogy except for the fact that both are brilliantly written and both deserve their five star rating. I hope that that in itself is recommendation enough. I will be reading everything I can lay my hands on by this author. She has a real talent.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elanor Lawrence

    There’s a lot to like about the book. It’s a family drama, fleshed out with chapters from the POV of each family member. It’s a book about grief that ends hopefully, yet without sugar-coating their pain. It’s nuanced and thoughtful and emotional… It doesn’t surprise me that reviews I’ve read of this novel have been overwhelmingly positive. All that said, the story didn’t grab me. Many of the main plot points were introduced abruptly and too late in the narrative. For example, it didn’t become cle There’s a lot to like about the book. It’s a family drama, fleshed out with chapters from the POV of each family member. It’s a book about grief that ends hopefully, yet without sugar-coating their pain. It’s nuanced and thoughtful and emotional… It doesn’t surprise me that reviews I’ve read of this novel have been overwhelmingly positive. All that said, the story didn’t grab me. Many of the main plot points were introduced abruptly and too late in the narrative. For example, it didn’t become clear that Gill (the mother) was a recipe writer until around page 150, when it suddenly became a central aspect of her character (and the reason for the title, of course). The plotline where Gill lies to Sylvie about Dougie’s death was interesting, but it resolved far too quickly in the end. In fact, the whole Sylvie narrative, including a bombshell-reveal casually dropped in one of the final chapters, just seemed to wrap up far too conveniently. The multiple POVs, too, didn’t work for me. While I appreciated the opportunity to hear from different characters, their voices were all so similar that I often forgot who’s chapter I was reading. Particularly when it switched back and forth quickly, such as between Gabe and Gill, or Gill and Sylvie, the changes just made me confused, rather than giving me additional insight into the characters. Overall, this is a gentle and beautiful story about dealing with grief and I appreciated the family dynamic. While I personally found it easy to put down, and I had to push myself to finish it, it seems like my frustrations with the novel were the exception rather than the rule.

  8. 5 out of 5

    The Literary Shed

    reviews Francesca Haig’s exploration of grief I typed in my usual search (Douglas Jordan Dead Cave Floodwater) and one of the hits … was a listing on a baby names website. Douglas (boy). Means. Dark Water. Ever since then I’ve blamed myself and Gill, accidental prophets. I blame us for choosing a name that turned out to be a promise.” – Gabe, The Cookbook of Common Prayer Francesca Haig’s The Cookbook of Common Prayer focuses on the most awful of things, the death of a child and how the family reviews Francesca Haig’s exploration of grief I typed in my usual search (Douglas Jordan Dead Cave Floodwater) and one of the hits … was a listing on a baby names website. Douglas (boy). Means. Dark Water. Ever since then I’ve blamed myself and Gill, accidental prophets. I blame us for choosing a name that turned out to be a promise.” – Gabe, The Cookbook of Common Prayer Francesca Haig’s The Cookbook of Common Prayer focuses on the most awful of things, the death of a child and how the family, the Jordans, deal with it. Told from the alternating perspectives of parents Gill and Gabe, and their surviving children, Sylvie and Teddy, the story is an exploration of grief and the lengths to which we’ll go in order to survive the unthinkable. Mother Gill is a food writer, somewhat ironically saddled with a daughter who refuses to eat. When son Dougie dies, Gill and husband Gabe make the decision not to tell Sylvie, worried about how it will impact on her already precarious health. Gill instead begins to write letters from Dougie to Sylvie, involving them and their youngest son, 11-year-old Teddy, in an elaborate web of lies. It’s Teddy who’s the star of the book. He’s a ghost, pretty much forgotten by his parents, their attention focused on their grief and the welfare of Sylvie. Teddy’s quiet observations and poignant thoughts are eruditely expressed and it’s his gaze and insights that are for us the most interesting. Food is important in the book, as the title suggests, the text littered with Gill’s recipes for dealing with momentous events and crises – a six-egg omelette for the day the police come to deliver the news of Dougie’s death, a bouillabaisse to deal with her fear for Sylvie. It’s a clever device which draws us in, giving us a more intimate viewpoint into the family and how they work as a unit. The Cookbook of Common Prayer is a well-penned book, full of significant moments and realisations. The main characters feel honest, authentic, their voices clear, their love and suffering exposed to us. And despite the seriousness of the central plot strand, there’s also humour and light, even in the darkest of places. At the heart of the book though is family in all its guises, how it endures, survives, evolves, grows. It’s a very engaging read, tightly written and well plotted – and it’s one that comes highly recommended. See: https://www.theliteraryshed.co.uk/rea... This review was originally published as part of the book's virtual book tour. Many thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tilly Fitzgerald

    This one is probably going straight in as one of my favourite novels on family and grief - there’s something strangely meditative and poetic about this book which really moved me, plus of course huge parts of it are set in Australia so I was always going to love it! Imagine losing a child, and then having to worry that telling one of your other children would lead to you losing them too? That’s the dilemna which Gill and Gabe are faced with when their oldest, Dougie, dies in a drowning incident. This one is probably going straight in as one of my favourite novels on family and grief - there’s something strangely meditative and poetic about this book which really moved me, plus of course huge parts of it are set in Australia so I was always going to love it! Imagine losing a child, and then having to worry that telling one of your other children would lead to you losing them too? That’s the dilemna which Gill and Gabe are faced with when their oldest, Dougie, dies in a drowning incident. They’re worried that their daughter Sylvie, who is already hospitalised due to her anorexia, won’t be able to cope and will take her own life as she seems so desperate to do already. Whilst Gabe goes to London to try to work out exactly what happened to Dougie, Gill stays in Tasmania where she pretends as though it never happened under the guise of protecting Sylvie, when really she is protecting herself from the awful truth of it. Then you have sweet Teddy, their youngest, who decides the only thing he can do to help is fix Sylvie, so he tries to uncover what triggered her illness to begin with. Are all of the secrets and lies within the family only going to cause more pain? This was such a beautifully written and tender look at what is the most unimaginable loss, and the constant fear of losing another child - my heart broke for this family just trying to find their own way of coping. The narration moves between all of them, so it’s wonderful to get all of the different perspectives and reactions throughout the story - plus you can start to piece things together by hearing all of their stories. I had a real soft spot for the quirky relationship between Teddy and Papabee - Papabee is the grandad of all the children, who is suffering from terrible memory loss (unsure whether Dementia/Alzheimer’s), and he and Teddy kind of take care of each other and come as a pair. This was a lovely heartwarming aspect to the novel that helped take the edge off some of the tragedy and sadness.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I wanted to read this book as soon as I read the synopsis, it sounded so different to the books I usually read. I know, after finishing it, that it will be one of those books that I will be thinking about for a long time. A family who are grieving, where each family member is grieving in their own way. Gabe is in England, where Dougie died, trying to understand why. He spends hours on the internet looking at equipment, the rescuers,similar cases and drinking heavily with Rosa who was Dougie’s gir I wanted to read this book as soon as I read the synopsis, it sounded so different to the books I usually read. I know, after finishing it, that it will be one of those books that I will be thinking about for a long time. A family who are grieving, where each family member is grieving in their own way. Gabe is in England, where Dougie died, trying to understand why. He spends hours on the internet looking at equipment, the rescuers,similar cases and drinking heavily with Rosa who was Dougie’s girlfriend and who was rescued from the cave where Dougie died. Gill is trying to convince herself and her desperately ill daughter Sylvie that Dougie is still alive by writing him letters. And she is cooking some unusual dishes and making them extremely personal. Teddy is grieving alone. Trying to support his mother and sister, missing his father and brother and convincing an oblivious PapaBee to help him. Whilst I had a lot of sympathy for all of them it was Teddy who touched my heart. Always having to fight a lot more for attention when life was normal it was even harder for him with a brother dead and a sister who would prefer to be. He is determined to find out why Sylvie was refusing to eat and whilst he seems to be failing she is listening and it is evident that she was a lot stronger than her parents think. I also had a lot of appreciation of the storyline involving PapaBee. It was easy to see his confusion and the chaos it caused but I felt that his situation was handled with a lot of honesty and I could visualise clearly the sometimes humorous, sometimes worrying scenes. It could have been depressing but it wasn’t. Instead it felt like an honest approach to grief with the memories, acceptance and guilt at occasionally being able to laugh or for a few minutes have what seems to be a normal day. Absolutely wonderful, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to everybody.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Campbell

    Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. This fantastic book will be published in June, 2021. I've spent a couple of days immersed in his book and needing to read just one more page... When Gabe and Gill lose their eldest son, life becomes even more complicated than ever, as they try to conceal his death from their daughter Sylvie. The author gives us the story from a number of different perspectives and at first, I was worried that having so many viewpoints would be confusing. However, as I read on, I re Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. This fantastic book will be published in June, 2021. I've spent a couple of days immersed in his book and needing to read just one more page... When Gabe and Gill lose their eldest son, life becomes even more complicated than ever, as they try to conceal his death from their daughter Sylvie. The author gives us the story from a number of different perspectives and at first, I was worried that having so many viewpoints would be confusing. However, as I read on, I realised that it was exactly how this story needed to be told. The story of middle daughter, Sylvie and her difficult journey with anorexia is at the heart of the story. This is told so well from both sides- herself and her family and how helpless they feel. It soon becomes clear that the story belongs to everyone- Dougie and his girlfriend Rosa, Gabe and Gill, Papabee and Teddy. I think Teddy's account of things was my favourite. The author inhabits the 11 year old persona so well. The thread of the recipe book peppered throughout was cleverly done especially given the juxtaposition of Gill's recipes with Sylvie's difficult relationship with food. The climactic ending was unexpected and Francesca Haig brought everything together so well. I very much look forward to reading more by this author.

  12. 5 out of 5

    CuteBadger

    I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of this book by LoveReading and it’s fair to say that I was a bit dubious about the subject, as it deals with the aftermath of the death of a teenage boy. But once I’d started I couldn’t stop reading and absolutely adored it. I really didn’t want to put it down and when I did I found myself thinking about and missing the characters. I also took sneaky breaks from what I should have been doing to read a couple more pages. While the book is obviously about grief I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of this book by LoveReading and it’s fair to say that I was a bit dubious about the subject, as it deals with the aftermath of the death of a teenage boy. But once I’d started I couldn’t stop reading and absolutely adored it. I really didn’t want to put it down and when I did I found myself thinking about and missing the characters. I also took sneaky breaks from what I should have been doing to read a couple more pages. While the book is obviously about grief and its impact on a family, the overwhelming emotion is always love – all the different kinds that exist within a family, how it can bring people together but also push them apart. It’s narrated by different members of the Jordan family who each deal with grief in their own way. My favourite character was 11-year old Teddy who feels it’s his responsibility to try to fix things while struggling to cope with what’s happened. All the characters here, even minor ones, are real people that I wanted to reach out to. I was torn between racing through to find out everything I could about them, and wanting to take it slow and spend as much time with them as possible. I’m still thinking about them now. The book reminded me Jodi Picoult’s work, but I enjoyed it more than I have any of her books.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    What an extraordinary book, I raced through it. It is easy to read and not at all highbrow but the main reason I raced through it is that I was so intrigued by and involved with the storyline. It starts with the tragic death of a 19 year old Australian in England. His parents fly to London, leaving behind their teenage daughter who has been hospitalised for 3 years with anorexia, her 11 year old younger brother who seems to get forgotten about, but is always working hard to figure out ways of ‘f What an extraordinary book, I raced through it. It is easy to read and not at all highbrow but the main reason I raced through it is that I was so intrigued by and involved with the storyline. It starts with the tragic death of a 19 year old Australian in England. His parents fly to London, leaving behind their teenage daughter who has been hospitalised for 3 years with anorexia, her 11 year old younger brother who seems to get forgotten about, but is always working hard to figure out ways of ‘fixing’ the family, and their charming, forgetful grandfather. The book has short chapters which give a voice to each of the 4 main characters, the parents and 2 surviving kids. These are full of insights into their individual grief and secrets. The father stays in London, waiting for an inquest and throwing himself into deep research about all aspects of his son’s accident, the mother returns home and embarks on two interesting writing projects, one of which gives this book its title. A series of difficult decisions, deceptions and revelations follow which almost break the family, but ultimately bring them together stronger. It really is a clever, absorbing and thought-provoking story and I would recommend it to anyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl M-M

    I will be counting this as one of my top reads for 2021. It's an evocative story about a family dealing with the death of their loved one by concealing his death from one of his siblings in an attempt to save another of their children. With this first venture out of the YA sub-genre, the author shows incredible depth and maturity in her storytelling and character development. The element of grief is viewed from the perspective of each character, all of whom react differently to the tragedy that t I will be counting this as one of my top reads for 2021. It's an evocative story about a family dealing with the death of their loved one by concealing his death from one of his siblings in an attempt to save another of their children. With this first venture out of the YA sub-genre, the author shows incredible depth and maturity in her storytelling and character development. The element of grief is viewed from the perspective of each character, all of whom react differently to the tragedy that threatens to make their world implode. There is no statistically proven adhering to stages of grief in order to cope, because the truth is grief doesn't read the same books or listen to the same experts we do. It has it's own agenda and can be very different for each person, especially when it comes the position in the family hierarchy or dynamics - and this very important nuance is exactly what Haig captures. As if the above wasn't enough to capture the attention of the reader and hold it with an equal measure of sympathy and empathy, indeed there were moments that tugged at the heart and opened the doors for silent weeping. It's beautiful. I lo *I received a courtesy copy*

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Symonds

    I didn't know what to expect from the book, but was pleasantly surprised how quick I devoured it. It is all about a family who have a lot of heart ache in their family. They have a very unwell daughter whose life in on the brink, their oldest son has just died and they need to keep it a secret from their daughter. The lie becomes very elaborate through out but can Gill keep up with it or will the secret come out? Also in the picture is their youngest son who is having a hard time trying to work I didn't know what to expect from the book, but was pleasantly surprised how quick I devoured it. It is all about a family who have a lot of heart ache in their family. They have a very unwell daughter whose life in on the brink, their oldest son has just died and they need to keep it a secret from their daughter. The lie becomes very elaborate through out but can Gill keep up with it or will the secret come out? Also in the picture is their youngest son who is having a hard time trying to work out why his sister is so poorly. I could never imagine what the family must be going through and it is heart breaking to read and see. I don't know what I would do in their situation, I think this story will stay with me for a while. I liked how the chapters are all split up into the members of the family as it seems more personal and we get to hear how everyone is coping through out the story. I wasn't sure if this broken family could ever be mended, but I hope it would. A story about loss, love, grief, and family pulling together. I adored it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    my bookworm life

    📖 new review. Thank you @AllenandUlwin for my copy of this absolute beautiful book! My god this book! Absolutely loved every single minute of this one, an emotional rollercoaster of a read and one of the (if not ‘the’) best family drama I’ve ever read. The writing here absolutely blew me away, so many times it was just so poetic and beautiful, so emotional and just really hard hitting. It tackles really sensitive themes and even though I can’t relate to them myself I found them so captivating, a 📖 new review. Thank you @AllenandUlwin for my copy of this absolute beautiful book! My god this book! Absolutely loved every single minute of this one, an emotional rollercoaster of a read and one of the (if not ‘the’) best family drama I’ve ever read. The writing here absolutely blew me away, so many times it was just so poetic and beautiful, so emotional and just really hard hitting. It tackles really sensitive themes and even though I can’t relate to them myself I found them so captivating, and I was just completely glued to the pages with this story. I loved books that switch between different characters to share their insights and narratives to bring the story together, and I thought it was done so well here, each voice so unique and so interesting, the characters here felt so very real and my heart just broke over and over again, but ultimately came back together at the end. If you like emotional family dramas then I highly recommend this one, I can’t rate it high enough I’d give it 10 ⭐️ if I could. Please note - content warning for running theme of a character with anorexia, suffering with it and treatment details etc. ❤️

  17. 4 out of 5

    Collette Mcgaahan

    I listened to this as an audiobook and have to say that I almost had to stop reading it when the narrator “spoke” in an Irish accent. Her attempts at English were awful but there simply are no words to describe her Irish. Oh but I’m so glad I carried on because this book is up there now with all my favourites. Perhaps I should have read it rather than listened but whatever I will never forget it. The story is harrowing but uplifting without being in the least bit twee. The characters are just won I listened to this as an audiobook and have to say that I almost had to stop reading it when the narrator “spoke” in an Irish accent. Her attempts at English were awful but there simply are no words to describe her Irish. Oh but I’m so glad I carried on because this book is up there now with all my favourites. Perhaps I should have read it rather than listened but whatever I will never forget it. The story is harrowing but uplifting without being in the least bit twee. The characters are just wonderful with flaws and good points just like us all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Oh my goodness, what a book! Poignant and very moving, this book is about famiy, bereavement and grief. Every chapter from a different family member's perspective, this is done so well that it blends seamlessly together to create a somehow bigger and richer story than it would otherwise have been from a single person's point of view. I have nothing negative to say about this book, and now eagerly look forward to reading everything that this author has written. Oh my goodness, what a book! Poignant and very moving, this book is about famiy, bereavement and grief. Every chapter from a different family member's perspective, this is done so well that it blends seamlessly together to create a somehow bigger and richer story than it would otherwise have been from a single person's point of view. I have nothing negative to say about this book, and now eagerly look forward to reading everything that this author has written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Devine

    Exceptional This is a truly amazing book. We hear the voices of the main characters, so the story takes on multiple dimensions. Tragedy is apparent; love stutters but prevails; secrets are revealed. The characters develop and grow. Towards the end of the book, the phrase “the magic of broken things” summarises it all. Moving, gripping, wonderful.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I did enjoy this book . Told in alternating chapters of each member of the families POV. Teddy was the highlight . I personally thought the reasoning for Sylvias long hospital stays could have come out a little earlier rather than in a rush at the end , and you’re finished before you’ve even realised … a great read dealing with big topics …

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alison Bruce

    I listened to the audio book version, and I found it compelling. So much so, that I’m listening to it again before I return it to the library. The narrator did a brilliant job with a fabulous novel. The title is inspired, and several phrases stay with me, “…sister in the boneyard, brother in the water”, is Teddy’s repeated nursery-rhyme like verse summing up his life. The, juxtaposition of fable and tragedy is very clever; “…he’s our son, not a cautionary tale.” Read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristel White

    I’m going to call it and say this is my book of 2021. It will be hard to beat, anyway. I was crying and laughing and by the end my chest ached with the raw emotion from this kooky and beautiful family. Beautifully written and I listened to the audiobook version, which was really well read. 5 ⭐️

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Subtle yet powerful Loved this book, beautifully written storyline. The way the entire family react to their tragedy and their coping mechanisms really make you think and consider things more deeply. Subtle yet powerful. Highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    l bagnall

    defy anyone not to be blown away by this amazing book. You will be totally absorbed by the storyline. It is so well written and each wonderful character keeps you wondering and waiting what will happen next in this captivating story. A great read which I did not want to end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Claudine Tinellis

    A stunning read. The emotional complexity and relatability of this novel was second to none. Heartbreaking, yet uplifting. I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended. Looking forward to sharing my podcast chat with Francesca soon.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine Davie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not so much a spoiler but trigger warning .. deals with death of a young adult son sexual abuse and eating disorders. Tough topics but well written I thought. Different voices moved the story along well. Well done I would look out for this author again fir sure

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    An amazing book, really well written- a beautiful storyline. Subtle but very powerful. A narrative by different members of the Jordan family who each deal with grief in their own way. It will be a long time before I find another book as absorbing as this one!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bushwackingbarbie

    When you need a few minutes after the last page to return to reality. Then think to yourself whilst whipping away tears "I'm not crying, you're crying"..... When you need a few minutes after the last page to return to reality. Then think to yourself whilst whipping away tears "I'm not crying, you're crying".....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily-Jo

    Astonishing

  30. 4 out of 5

    Just_me

    Well written although I found it very heavy reading. Having children of the same age - luckily without the same issues made reading hard.

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