Cover Image: The Things We Left Unsaid

The Things We Left Unsaid

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Member Reviews

The Things We Left Unsaid is a beautiful story about love in its many guises. Love for a parent, unrequited love, romantic love, nostalgic love. 

Rachel is feeling lost and bewildered after first losing her beloved father Charlie, and then being jilted at the altar by her pond scum of a man, Claude. She has returned to her childhood home, where there is a distance between her and her mother Eleanor, a famous artist. When Eleanor asks to speak to Rachel about something important, Rachel puts her off, thinking they have time. But when Eleanor suddenly dies, Rachel is left wondering what it was her mother wanted to speak to her about. It becomes an obsession.

The story moves between Then and Now, as we learn more about Eleanor's life. A glamorous life with bohemian art students. Meeting Jake on her first day at college is to change her forever. She falls madly in love with him, but Jake hides a painful secret.

As Rachel begins the process of clearing out Eleanor's home, she discovers letters and diaries that allow her to piece together a picture of her mother's life that she was clueless about. Eleanor was her mother, but Rachel never knew her as anything other. 

As the final piece of the puzzle is discovered, it rocks Rachel's world and makes her question everything she has known to be true. But ultimately it leads to her finding peace and acceptance of all her mother was, and she can look to the future knowing that she is stronger than she thinks she is, and wiser for the journey she has taken.

Beautifully written, heartfelt and poignant, this is a story that consumed and entranced me.
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This didn't strike me as massively unique but I enjoyed reading it all the same. Lovely story and strong characters, would recommend for an easy read.
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Rachel has been left at the altar and returned home to her mother Eleanor, with whom she has a strained relationship. Eleanor is a renowned artist but a distant and rather cold mother. Both are still grieving their father and husband, Charlie. And now it's time for Eleanor to reveal her secrets.

The scene is set for a dive back into Eleanor's past: the story goes back and forth between the present and the early '80s, when Eleanor was an art student newly arrived in London and adopted into the artistic set in Soho.
Although there are secrets for Rachel to discover, this is not a mystery novel. The unfolding story is predictable for the reader. There is some tension, but it's vicarious tension as we accompany Rachel on her journey into the past rather than the tension of waiting to find out what happens next.

The Things We Left Unsaid is well written, well constructed, and a pleasure to read. The mood of the book is very much driven by the people in each scene. There's a warmth and underlying tenderness, even melancholy, relieved by the fun and energy of some of the more vivacious characters.

On reflection, there is quite a lot of stereotyping but you do get sucked into the story, so that each character feels less like a stereotype and more like someone you used to know. I'm about Eleanor's age and was a young Arts (not 'art') student in the early '80s; this novel brought me right back to those days and the people I knew then. Reminding me of forgotten details, like how pubs served as an information hub to keep track of people before we had mobile phones. And how friends, and strangers, were constantly, constantly bumming cigarettes off each other!

Eleanor's younger sister Agnes is a wonderful character, quirky and fun. She sees past Eleanor's reserve to the warmth within, in a way that Rachel can't. And this is one of the great strengths of this novel: it is really about how children do not, really, know their parents. They may spend their whole lives with them, but they don't know their whole past. Only the selected highlights their parents have allowed them to know. Your parents' siblings probably know them better than you do, and they connive in keeping parts of the past in the past.
And that's part of what being a parent is. Allowing your children to grow up with as much of a clean slate as possible, unburdened by their parents' past lives. Most of us don't have big secrets to hide, but we did have lives before our children came along. No matter how much of those lives our children get to know about, they'll never have the whole, lived, story.

By the end of the book, Rachel thinks she knows everything about her parents now. But because the reader saw the past through Eleanor's experience 40 years ago, we see that Rachel only knows an edited version. Eleanor's past is gone for good. And Rachel will get on with building her own life.

I think the title 'The Things We Left Unsaid' is not just about the secrets that we keep from each other, but about how we each experience our lives essentially alone, in our own heads, in a way that we might never share with anyone. And when we die, that's gone.

Which is quite sad, really.

"“I also believe that parents, if they love you, will hold you up safely, above their swirling waters, and sometimes that means you'll never know what they endured, and you may treat them unkindly, in a way you otherwise wouldn't.” ― Mitch Albom, For One More Day
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the trip it took me through London in the 60s. The characters were relatable and the relationships authentic. The author understands people and conveys emotions compassionately. 

The dual storylines added an extra layer which kept me reading into the wee hours. The testy mother/daughter relationship was one many of us can relate to and was nicely portrayed. Despite its traumatic elements, the book made me laugh and I look forward to her next one.
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I love books about relationships and family dynamics and this book delivers on this.

I enjoyed the story and the timeframe changes kept it fresh.

Read if you like a love story that tugs on your heart strings.
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When someone dies, you we often find ourselves wishing we had paid better attention to their family stories or asked more questions. This is the premise behind this novel which moves between the present day and the louche world of Soho and the art scene in the 1960s. After being jilted by her fiancé,  her mother's sudden death a few weeks later throws Rachel's life into turmoil as she searches for answers. There are some delicious characters in this well told story which was slow to start with but became compulsive reading.
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The Things We Left Unsaid is another heart warming novel from Emma Kennedy. Rachel suffers the ultimate humiliation, and is left at the altar by her fiancée Claude. This happens just six weeks after the death of her beloved father Charlie. After the abandoned wedding, Rachel moves back in with her mother with whom she has a tense relationship. During this time, Rachel stumbles upon information that leads her to believe her life isn’t as it seems. 

Emma Kennedy is a remarkable writer who creates authentic characters the reader feels a strong affinity to. The sense of place and time within the book is convincing and adds an important dimension to the story and relationships within it. The balance of grief and humour was perfect, creating a novel I could not put down.
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The sign of a good book is often that you want to read it again because you’re sorry it has finished. This was one such book. Lovely characters, very moving.
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I love books with dual narratives, especially those whether the narratives are in different times. However, I would have loved if this book had the narratives in first person, as I find it connects the reader much closer to the story.

I loved Eleanor's narrative set in the 1960s. It was great to see Eleanor head to university and make a life for herself. I much rathered Eleanor's narrative to Rachel's. as I felt there was a lot more action in this time.

I alos enjoy reading stories of tricky mother/daughter relationships, which was portrayed really well here.
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What a beautiful story about families, parents and children. This was an easy but lovely read that I devoured over a few days. 

This book is told in the then and now about a lady who is jilted at the altar. 

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This is an unusual story about families. 
Rachel has been left at the altar by her husband to be, Claude who disappears without an explanation. She returns to her childhood home to live with her mother Eleanor, a successful artist. Rachel and Eleanor seem to rub each other the wrong way. 
Then Eleanor wants to tell Rachel something important but before she can, she dies. 
The story alternates with Eleanor's younger life and Rachel in the present day as she tries to work out what Eleanor was trying to tell her.
A gentle tale that manages to capture the arty set around Soho in the sixties. 
Thanks Netgalley for ARC for an honest review.
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A light hearted easy read about love and friendship. It wasn’t what I would usually read but I enjoyed it. A good book for a holiday read
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was lucky enough to live in London during the 60s and this brought back memories of walking through Soho on a Saturday evening or browsing in Biba. The characters were believable and I felt sad at the missed opportunities between Rachel and Eleanor.  I could empathise with how easily it can happen and how we think we have time to put things right - and then we don’t!
I loved this book so thank you Emma Kennedy for writing it and thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to give my unbiased opinion.
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This is a gentle, unassuming story of family and friendship.

Rachel is jilted and find herself living back with her mother, Eleanor, in the family home. One half of this dual timeline story tells of Rachel’s journey forwards.

The second half of the split is all about Eleanor and her life in 60s London. She makes exciting friends and makes interesting choices!

I enjoyed all of the characters except for Claude. Somehow he felt entirely superfluous to the entire novel. We didn’t need a villain, really! 

Well paced and enjoyable, this is an easy read with lots of lovely moments. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy of this book.
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3.5 ★

This book delivered what it promised—a story of love and family. 

We find Eleanor and Rachel grieving the loss of their husband / father and through a dual timeline NOW and THEN, we discover Eleanor's past and Rachel's present. There is a huge grief and loss component to this, letters and secrets, with a dark tone throughout. There is romance and heartbreak in this, and while there are moments and couplings I really enjoyed, many, most really, are skipped over or things just fade away. 

Furthermore, Eleanor and Rachel's characters are private and aloof. You could definitely tell they are mother and daughter. Things between them never, truly feel resolved. I felt I never quite got to the bottom of them as people and in their relationship as we saw it. Even though the truth came out and things were mostly resolved. it still felt unfinished somehow. The supporting cast (almost all) were more open and brought life to the page. 

I did enjoy this book, it wasn't a page turner, but it kept drawing me back in. I found the writing style impactful and impressive, I just feel underwhelmed by it on reflection. The third person POV was a was a bit clunky at times, especially in the beginning. 

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A wonderful story. When Rachel is jilted she goes back home to live with her mother Eleanor who is a famous painter, and having recently just lost her father she is grieving for him as well as for herself. While she is there a tragedy occurs that leaves Rachel searching into her mother's past to find answers about her life. The story flows effortlessly from past to the present and eventually uncovers many secrets, and finally comes to terms with the past so she can finally find happiness in her own future. A fabulous read
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A really heart warming book. Thanks Emma Kennedy and NetGalley. It was easy to fall in love with various characters and the scenes set were excellent. Following the lives of Eleanor and her sister Agnes during the 60’s through to modern day the story moves about but each chapter is either Then or Now so it’s easy to follow. Eleanor is at art college in London and meets some crazy artistic people along the way. In the Now chapters it’s Eleanor’s daughter Rachel who takes centre stage. Easy to read and follow. Loved this book.
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A fairly predictable and light story, which never really seems convincing.  It's pleasant enough, but I found it a bit dull and would only really recommend it as a beach-read.
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This is gentle and sweet. It's very well written and the dialogue is excellent.. Not a pacey/exciting plot but very readable.
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Rachel and Eleanor are a mismatched mother and daughter, but - when a crisis happens - Rachel starts to delve into her mother’s past and it’s secrets.
The story flits backwards and forwards between Eleanor’s life as an aspiring artist in the 1960s, and Rachel’s in the current day. 
I found it a teeny bit of a slow burn at the start, but I was soon engrossed and the plot deviated from my expectations in a pleasing way.
There are some familiar plot devices - hidden diaries, a gardener with romantic leanings - but they’re well played. 
I’d really recommend it. It’s an easy read but with some hidden depths, and the characters are well-drawn and believable too.
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