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Review: Together by Julie Cohen

Review: Together by Julie Cohen

With a tag line of ‘is this a great love story or a story of great love?’, the reader’s prepared for twists and revelations even before the story starts. Indeed, there are plenty of moments of questionable motivation, major revelations, and various acts of love. I wasn’t disappointed.
In essence, this is the story of Robbie and Emily. Having spent the best part of fifty years together, with two sons, grandchildren, their own beautiful seaside home, and successful careers behind them, they seem to have reached the perfect retirement.

However, Robbie is beginning to lose his memory; he worries it’s the start of Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Rather than making Emily endure the years of of his slow demise, he swims away into the sunrise, leaving Emily with a fresh pink rose, a note and a kiss on her cheek.

That’s the first, short, chapter. I was hooked. 

The story then goes into reverse. Sections tell us more about Robbie and Emily’s lives, hinting at, then revealing secrets in their lives. It’s not confusing or disorientating as each section is long enough to settle into and signpost have been given in the preceding story (which is the chronological future but the book’s past, if you see what I mean!). This perfectly happy, perfectly matched couple have worked hard over the years to reach this point. Only at the end did I realise how hard.

Some readers may think some revelations are too farfetched, particularly as Robbie and Emily’s story comes to its final moment, but by then, I had invested in their lives. I cared for them, understanding something of the choices they made. 

At moments unlikeable, unfathomable, unloveable, Emily and Robbie both have valid reasons for their actions, reactions and even inaction at various times.

This would make a good reading group book as there are plenty of topics to discuss (listing them would count as spoilers; everyone in the group needs to have read the book to the end!). I for one would love to spend more time with the Brandons.

True to the nature of a circular novel, told backwards, I started to read it again as soon as I’d finished. It was not time wasted. A well written story, with characters I cared about, making heart-breakingly difficult decisions throughout their lives together. 

Regardless of whether you might regard the secrets and twists as farfetched or gimmicky, this is a very good ‘relationship read’, an ideal easy read for the commute or bedtime. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself reading past your bedtime…
Thanks to Orion Books for the prepublication proof.

Published in hardback in the UK in July 2017 ISBN 9781409171744

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Posted by on 04/09/2017 in Uncategorized


Reading Week: Day Two

Mainly Twitter. And scrolling news bars.

I’m afraid that with the dramatic events in the UK’s general election last night, any hope of serious reading has gone out of the window now.

I have, however, discovered the point of Twitter. Using it for rolling news, instant reaction to an event, scrolling while watching live tv, this is a perfect medium to keep yourself informed, up to date and entertained. I now love it!

However, the uncertain outcome of the election is driving me back to the novel. Off to take my chosen prizewinning, dystopian, feminist sci-fi novel out for coffee before the school run. At least I’ll find a coherent narrative here, regardless of the news outlets.

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Posted by on 09/06/2017 in Life, Uncategorized


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A New Challenge

Well, hello again virtual world!

Shamefully, it’s been more than an a year since I posted on my blog. Many things have happened over the months and more books have been read.

However, I am not about to challenge myself to another book experiment or limit.

Instead, I am going to try to discipline myself with my other favourite form of words:

I aim to post something every fortnight (at least) on my other blog ( ); something original, my own words.

Your comments, feedback, critique, emojis, and so on are much appreciated.

So, are you along for the ride?

Time to write!

Time to write!


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Posted by on 16/06/2015 in Uncategorized


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Book Review: The Silent Wife

Is this new addition to the wife-lit/misery-marriage canon worth the hype?
With a similarly dark cover, enticing cover quotes and rave reviews, one cannot avoid comparison with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
Todd and Jodi have been together for over twenty years; not married although everyone assumes so. They live in an enviable apartment in Chicago; he a property developer, she a psychotherapist. They are childless but are accompanied by their dog, Freud. Their relationship reaches a crisis point as she discovers the latest in a series of affairs. Something has to be done.
Told in alternating chapters, the tension builds slowly. In fact, the cover ‘blub’ evokes a particular expectation which, in the end, is much more subtle.
The characters are well-rounded and engaging; there is much description of the trappings of their lives and its reflection of their unhappiness. This is a very well written thriller. The ending is not quite as expected; a little lacklustre compared to other thrillers. However, part of the enjoyment is in the journey, not just the destination, and I would recommend this ride. It’s worth (most of) the hype.
(received from

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Posted by on 25/03/2014 in Uncategorized


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A Poem: Resolution 2014

A slightly tongue-in-cheek poem inspired by my New Year’s Resolution:

The books flow about
The house, with a shout,
My husband exclaims,
‘No more! Hear my aims:
To have a house free of clutter.
You buy books, ‘stead of butter.
This worries me greatly,
The bookcases are weighty.
They might topple and fall.
The books! They’ll crush us all!
Why do you buy so many books?
Don’t you know how it looks?
To have teetering towers
Threatening to overpower
Adult or child;
These books: they roam wild
Throughout the whole house,
Not even a mouse
Can burrow through these,
Eating pages not cheese.
Their bulk does well insulate
Almost as well as roof slate.
But the mess in the hall,
Bedrooms, lounge, just all
Over this place –
It is a disgrace.
You must control your urges
To stem this paper tide which surges
From room to room.
How I wish for a broom
To sweep clear this hoard
To see empty floorboard.
My dearest love,
I implore help from above
That this year you resolve
Our bookish problem to solve.
Say to yourself this sweet little rhyme
When you’re tempted, each time:
‘I shall not, will not buy a book,
Not in paper, Kindle or Nook;
Not online, not for a dime,
Not in a store, no! no more!’
Just for this year,
Please, my dear?’

A.W.Craig January 2014


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Two Weeks: No Books

A progress report:
Books bought: 0
Books added to my wish list: 6

Books ordered from local library: 1

Books read from local library: 1
Books rounded up to be handed on: 16
Books read: 2 and a half
Poems written about books: 1


Two weeks down, fifty to go!

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Posted by on 13/01/2014 in Uncategorized


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A Victorian End of Year Review (of sorts)

ImageVaultHandler_aspxAnd so, the end of 2013 has passed… and so has my two-year themed reading challenge. It’s been such fun choosing a monthly theme then piling up the appropriate books with fevered anticipation. And then posting gratuitous pictures of my personal library. The total of books read thematically has been less than impressive, as seen on my Good Reads list.

Organising my reading thematically has given me focus, made me take books off my shelves (even if they’re just been piled up and reshelved after a couple of months), and challenged me to discover new authors and genres.

However, it has sometimes been restrictive and the blogging element of the experiment has fallen by the wayside a little. I haven’t reflected on the themes deeply enough, perhaps because the reading in the end hasn’t been so focused. I’m still distracted by all the books I haven’t read, and all the books which keep piling up in our house.

So October’s theme, which melded into November and (oops!) into December, was Victoriana. I loved the anticipation of this and found some delicious looking books on my shelves (see previous post). The few novels I managed to read were successfully atmospheric and (perhaps) overly dramatic. Some were set in brothels with suitable emphasis on sexual proclivities (The Crimson Petal and the White in particular; not too gratuitous but with an engaging narrative style. And stonking good plot). There was swirling fog, gorgeous dresses, and grisly murders (at times). They all seemed to be hefty tomes with complicated plots and lots of sex. Perhaps it’s an attempt to redress the balance of our mis-conception that the Victorians repressed everything. (see Matthew Sweet’s Inventing the Victorians to redress the balance)

Reading contemporary novels set in the Victorian era has been an interesting contrast to the style and content of the ‘real’ Victorian novels I’ve already read.  Some of the Victoriana was almost a self-conscious parody, seeking to recapture the thrills of a Victorian ‘sensationalist novel’ but failing. I’d rather read Wilkie Collins or Mary Braddon, thanks.

I would recommend anyone to try a year, or a few months, reading within a certain theme; whether a particular author, setting, genre, subject matter. I have discovered some gems and authors I wouldn’t have otherwise have tried. Get out of your comfort zone and look in a different part of your local bookshop or library.


And so as I look ahead into 2014, I’m resolving to ‘watch less, read more.’ I have many books piled up waiting to be read and am looking forward to a year’s ‘free reading’, returning to my old habits of reading different books, whatever takes my fancy…
…. but with the twist that I cannot buy any more books for myself for the whole year.

Now, that’s an idea for a year’s worth of blog posts…


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