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How It Was: the new novel from the author of The Butcher's Hook

Janet Ellis

6 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Historical fiction

A new, darkly compelling novel from the author of the highly-acclaimed THE BUTCHER'S HOOK. 1970s nostalgia clashes with suburban ennui in a story of love, motherhood, betrayal, and long-hidden secrets.

A new, darkly compelling novel from Janet Ellis, author of the highly-acclaimed THE BUTCHER'S HOOK.

'Janet Ellis writes with tenderness and wisdom . . . I veered between laughter and a lump in the throat, often on the same page. This book will sneak up behind you and break your heart.' Erin Kelly, author of HE SAID/SHE SAID

In a 1970s village in rural Kent, lives go on in an unremarkable way. But Marion Deacon, struggling with being a wife and mother, is about to set events in motion that she cannot control in a story of love, motherhood, betrayal, and long-hidden secrets . . . because everyone has at least one secret.

Marion Deacon sits by the hospital bed of her dying husband, Michael. Outwardly she is, as she says, an unremarkable old woman. She has long concealed her history - and her feelings - from the casual observer. And she's learned to ignore her own past, too.

But as she sits by Michael's bed, she's haunted by memories of events from almost forty years ago. She and Michael were recently married; their children, Eddie and Sarah, still young. Theirs was an uneventful life in a small village. But, stiflingly bored in her role as mother and wife, Marion fell for a married man, an affair that sparked a chain of events which re-sets all their lives.

Moving between the voices of Marion, her teenage daughter Sarah and her youngest son, Eddie, How It Was is a story of love, loss and betrayal. Through Marion and Sarah, Janet Ellis explores the tensions at the heart of mother-daughter relationships, the pressure women face to be the perfect wife and mother, and how life rarely turns out the way we imagine it will when we are young.

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Praise for How It Was: the new novel from the author of The Butcher's Hook

  • Immersive, amazing, remarkable . . . It's an excellent book and Janet is a hugely gifted writer . . . I couldn't put it down. - Marian Keyes

  • Janet Ellis writes with tenderness and wisdom about how you can lose a child while they are still under your roof - and how a child long-lost will never leave you. I veered between laughter and a lump in the throat, often on the same page. This book will sneak up behind you and break your heart. - Erin Kelly, author of HE SAID/SHE SAID

  • It's wonderful. A brutal tale of a fraught mother-daughter relationship. The writing fizzes along. Loved it. - Emma Kennedy

  • Explores the human condition with pin-sharp precision, so accurate it hurts. It's a raw read, complex and compelling in its structure, with emotions laid bare. Written with empathy and integrity. - Lynne Parker

  • Wonderfully evocative, immersive and beautifully written - Kate Eberlen

  • I absolutely loved it. The careful evocation of an era is incredibly seductive . . . These are real, believable, fragile people whose lives the reader becomes totally immersed in and gripped by. - Imogen Parker

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Book Trailer | The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

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Book Trailer | The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

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Janet Ellis

Actress, presenter and author Janet Ellis trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Best known for presenting Blue Peter, she stars in numerous radio and TV programmes and in 2018 appeared at the Edinburgh Festival. In 2016 Janet was awarded an MBE for services to charities and theatre.

A graduate of the Curtis Brown creative writing course, her debut novel, The Butcher's Hook, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

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