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What She Lost by Susan Elliott Wright

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Disclaimer: Susan did the same Writing MA that I did, so I first heard of her at the launch for her first novel as it was an event I could go to on my MA. I bought her book and friended her on Facebook, and I've bought the next two of her novels too. I really like them - well-crafted plots about feisty women which usually have parts set in the recent past as well as the present. If you like Maggie O'Farrell or Sebastian Barry, I'd say that Susan is an author to check out, for definite.

I think that this is the best of her books so far, but Susan says that it was the most difficult to write, and it's not hard to see why. There's a lot of emotional issues going on, and some devastating events. It really took it out of me just reading it!

In the present, Eleanor is in her 50s and lives on a commune in North Yorkshire. She lost her hair to stress-related alopecia when she was a teenager, and it's just started to grow back. Her mother, Marjorie, still lives in the family home in east London. Her friend Peggy lives upstairs and has been caring for Marjorie ever since she started developing Alzheimers. Eleanor and her mother have always had a strained relationship, ever since Marjorie was in hospital when Eleanor was a small child.

Marjorie is getting more and more forgetful, but she keeps looking for something for Eleanor. Can Eleanor uncover the truth about what happened when she was a child before it's too late?

There were several things I really liked about this book. Eleanor is a particular favourite, and I also liked how her hair loss was dealt with, and the effect it had on her sexual life. I thought this was dealt with really well, very sensitively. Likewise, I felt like Marjorie's Alzheimers was sensitively portrayed. Susan actually wrote a book about Alzheimers (a non fiction book) so it's something she knows a lot about, and that shows. I liked Peggy and the relationship she and Eleanor had, and how this made Marjorie feel. I felt sad that Marjorie and Eleanor couldn't get on, and wanted to bang their heads together more than once.

All in all, I am giving this a well deserved eight out of ten.

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