Cover Image: When I Was Ten

When I Was Ten

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Member Reviews

I really thought I would love this book. Set across two time periods, it covers the brutal murder of Dr and Mrs Carter by one of their young daughters, and the impact that crime has on the Carter children (and their friend Brinley) in the present day.  Sadly, despite some brilliant chapters this book never really worked for me. 

A lot of the sub-plots felt unnecessary (the MP, Catherine’s husband, Brinley’s colleague) and the mysterious communications dotted throughout the book didn’t work for me at all.

I think my main issue with the book was the present-day behaviour of Catherine’s sister was barely explained at all. It would have been far better to have had some of the narrative from her perspective, so that the final chapters of the book made more sense. The plot twist/‘gasp’ moments didn’t have the intended impact on me at all-because there was so little character development for Catherine’s sister, her actions were unbelievable rather than shocking. 

However, the description of life in the Carter house before the murders, and how Brinley’s family dealt with an ongoing tragedy, was really engaging and well-written. If you like a thriller and don’t want to ask too many questions about who is doing what and why, I would recommend this book.
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Sara and Shannon, two sisters that live in a world many of us cannot, and would not, want to imagine.
They are bound by blood and lies. 
I found the beginning of the book a little slow to start but I persevered and I'm so glad I did as the story became more intriguing and interesting the further into the book I read.
The lengths people will go to to protect family is extraordinary. 
I found the ending surprising.
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An absolutely gripping murder mystery type novel that you won’t be able to put down! Can become a bit blurred in places as to which character is talking but you soon get used to it!
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10-year-old Sara Carter admitted to killing her parents in order to protect her older sister, Shannon.
Having spent 8 years in a children's secure unit, she was given a new identity and reintegrated into society.
Now, married and with a 12-year-old daughter, she has a new life and doesn't want to revisit her past. But her sister seems to be intent on digging it up.

This was yet another book that put me on the fence about the rating.
The story follows Sara, now living as Catherine, and Brinely, a former best friend of the Carter sisters, now a journalist. Interspersed with one side of a conversation between two unidentified persons, the story starts off very promising only to slow down along the line. It picks up later, and at this point, it got me so hooked that I was racing to find out what happened. Up to this point, I was sure I'd give it 4 stars.
However, the ending left me unsatisfied. Without giving away spoilers, I just couldn't understand why Shannon did what she did ( and I don't mean killing her parents! ).
Also the politician subplot - I have no idea what purpose it served, it seemed completely unnecessary. 
This was my first book from Fiona Cumins, but despite the rating I decided to give this book, I will be on the lookout for her other books.
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Wow, what a book. Right from the beginning I was intrigued where the story would go. 

This was a story about 3 friends, 2 of whom are sisters and a traumatic event in their childhood which leads to a separation.  Years later, their paths cross again.  

I wont leave any spoilers, it is one of those books that keeps you awake at night desperate to find out how it ends!
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Oh my! What a rollercoaster ride of a thriller, dark and twisted, with some very uncomfortable scenes - found it hard to put down.

The book begins with a girl running away from a murder scene. The parents of her closest friends, Sharon and Sara Carter have been savagely murdered, apparently by one of the sisters. 

Sara confessed to the crime and served time in juvenile institutions, finally being released with a new identity having, she believed, paid for the crime.

Years later, Shannon is looking for her sister in a blaze of publicity. Wife and mother Catherine knows it is only time before her cover and her life will be blown apart. Neighbour Brinsley is also drawn into the case.

This book deals with some dreadful issues and is quite graphic but it all adds to the horror that slowly dawns and the twisty path to the end.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this review copy
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I really enjoyed this book. It’s a story of a woman who has moved on with her life following a horrific family tragedy that no one knows the full story. When her older sister is tracked down and decides to go on TV and tell the world her side of the story it sets off a chain of events for the two girls and Journalist Brinley Booth that could destroy all of them. This book Was a great read and I loved all of the book and was blown away by the ending.
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Thanks to Netgalley and MacMillan for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Around 20 years ago, a doctor and his wife were murdered by one of their young daughters. They were abusive and detestable people. Now one of the daughters is living a happy life with her husband and daughter but her estranged sister wants to get back in touch. Meanwhile the girls' neighbor from their childhood is now a tabloid reporter and is covering the story at the anniversary of the murders.

I was a little confused with this one initially and then a little bored for awhile but then this picked up steam and everything came together at the end for a fairly satisfying  conclusion. I would probably read more from this author.
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Shannon and Sara Carter were the daughters of a village GP and his social butterfly wife. Behind closed doors they were vile humans who degraded their daughters. Meeting a violent death was enough for the girls to be free. Except they were never free from the pain. 
Sara became Catherine, the gentle loving mother of Honor and wife of Edward and her sister wants to see her after all these years. One of the reporters following the case, Brinley, knows the Carter daughters and what happened that night. 
Wow! I loved this book so much and spent the majority of my free time reading it. Definitely recommend to anyone wanting a dark, thrilling tale. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for this arc in exchange for my honest review.
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After a breathtakingly compelling and clever Part One, this novel spends a long middle section detailing the historic child abuse that is vital to the story but some readers (inc myself) may find uncomfortably prolonged. It builds again to an ending that is not so much surprising as inevitable, but suitably horrific. The novel is strongest when revealing how ruthlessly the Press seize control of people's stories and their lives.
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I was pulled in from the very first page. 100% fully engrossed, ignore everything else in the world hooked. A girl fleeing the scene of a murder only to be struck by lightning? That's how you start a book. The characters were beautifully written which made the emotional pull of the story even stronger. Catherine and Brinley were such wonderful protagonists i felt i was right there with them for every step of the story. The story is told in two timelines and i went back and forth with ease, not struggling at all which can sometimes be the case. Excellent story.
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I felt slightly confused at the beginning of this book, I even admit to thinking I might have to not finish it as it was just not catching my interest. I am glad I did not do that though as the further I got into it the more I began to enjoy the story (if still a little confused) 2 young girls, the life they endure. A politician and his bawdy ways. See I even find it hard to even describe the book! I think the best thing you can do is decide for yourselves, give it a go, but don’t give up. I eventually enjoyed it.
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I enjoyed when I was ten but it felt muddled in places. The characters weren’t formed enough for you to like them or care a lot about them, with the exception, strangely, of Edward- he was totally unlikeable.
Sara/Catherine wasn’t strong enough to be a heroine and Shannon wasn’t in it enough to dislike or fear. Not sure I’d read it again
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A spine-chilling tour-de-force. Fiona Cummins is a born storyteller ************************************************************************************************************
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This book genuinely had me on the edge of my seat. It deals with sensitive, hard-hitting issues, and Catherine's chapters in particular were taught and pacy. A truly powerful novel, When I Was Ten is gripping from start to finish.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.  It was easy to get into and kept me intrigued.  I wasn't convinced by some of the events towards the end of the book but overall, found it to be a satisfying read.
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Very clever and very well written!! Fully enjoyed this one and was read in one sitting!! Cannot wait to read more from this author !!
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If you’ve already had the pleasure of reading Fiona Cummins’ previous books then you know to expect a dark, twisty and uncomfortable story and When I Was Ten is no exception.

The book opens in 1997 with a young girl fleeing from a double murder scene having witnessed a traumatic and horrific event.  Fast forward to 2018 and the story introduces us to Catherine,  happily married to Edward and loving mother to 12 year old Honor, whose lives are about to be turned upside down and inside out when her Catherine’s sister, Shannon Carter, appears on live TV to talk about the brutal murder of her parents 21 years ago.  Catherine hasn’t told anyone about her past and now watches as her family is dragged into the media spotlight.

Brinley Booth grew up with Catherine and her sister Shannon, living next door and is now a reporter who has been assigned to cover the story and get an “exclusive” however the past still haunts her and she narrates some of the story taking up back to 1997.

There are some really uncomfortable topics covered in this book (child abuse, domestic abuse) and whilst they are an important aspect of why Catherine’s parents were murdered and what drove the sisters to commit these violent acts, there are scenes that are deeply disturbing.

As usual the author provides the reader with a rollercoaster of a ride full of twists and turns.  When I Was Ten is a fast paced, gripping thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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If it wasn’t for the ending, this would be a book that takes some of the deepest horrors of our world and lays them bare with intelligence and sensitivity. But in the final chapters, this sullies itself, devolving into a car crash of a cheap thriller reliant on gore and sensationalism. It’s a shame because I was fascinated by the first 80% of this novel; the multitudes of shades of grey and the lies we tell to protect the people we love the most. It was darkly gripping, shedding a light on family secrets that no one wants to see and no one is willing to hear. And it’s as though Cummings chucks in the towel at the end; abandoning all insight for the quick thrill of violence and shocks.

There were some issues before that of course, but they were easily glanced over and others perhaps wouldn’t have been bothered by them. The build up to the murders is a little too obvious, the hidden abuse a little too overt, even if those around the family couldn’t see it. The motive for murder was a little too obvious, a little too black and white, knowing all the facts who could blame a child for cracking and imploding under the strain? A lighter hand; instances relayed through the memory of an imperfect narrator rather than the stark third person view you get would have been subtler. The abuse narrated from the perspective of the eyes of a child, scared and confused and not sure what to believe, rather than an omnipresent narrator would have been more hard hitting.

But by and large this didn’t really impact on the power of the novel. It jars you slightly, but it doesn’t pull you out of the narrative. And the narrative is fascinating - a child tried as an adult for the brutal murder of her parents, parents who are seen as pillars of their community. Convicted and incarcerated and living under the radar until the story hits mainline news once more. Two sisters, one of whom committed a heinous crime, tied in a convoluted web of truth, love, lies and fear. A lot of the tale is told in the present from the perspectives of one of the sisters and that of a close childhood friend, now a journalist trying to run from that haunting past. Broken families are laid bare in both the present and the past. It is a glimpse into the reasoning of violence, the reverberating effects of childhood trauma and the power of both fear and forgiveness.

The inclusion of the Justice Minister was a bit odd, I admit. His story added very little to the tale as a whole and only really served to distract from the important issues. But that’s a side show rather than the meat of the issue and, whilst irrelevant, is easy to skip over and ignore. It’s only real relevance is the descent into chaos at the end. And even then it’s a side note rather than the front page story. I suppose his tale goes some way to demonstrating the power of the press - for good and ill - but that is already clear in the way the story of a vulnerable child is portrayed... even if that child is the one responsible for two frenzied murders. It’s a clever thread throughout the novel; how the media influences and incenses public opinion and how much harm they can do in the name of ‘public good’.

It’s a pity the final portion of this rather jaded my final thoughts. I think this would have been a four star read - if only just - had it kept within it’s initial tone and style. But in those final chapters it undoes so much of what it had built and it just felt like a cop out and a cheap one at that.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my free review copy of this novel.
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Found this a little hard to get into at the beginning but persevere with it and it's a brilliant read.
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