A wife, mother, and lover … 1970s nostalgia clashes with suburban ennui in the new, darkly compelling novel from the author of The Butcher’s Hook

How It Was
August 2019

‘You will love this – immersive, amazing, remarkable, I could barely breathe.  I cried – and I never cry.’

‘Janet Ellis writes with tenderness and wisdom . . . This book will sneak up behind you and break your heart’

‘A wonderful book – so beautifully written, what an incredible piece of storytelling’

‘Wonderfully evocative, immersive and beautifully written’

‘Complex and compelling, written with empathy and integrity’

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.  But as she sits by Michael’s bed, she’s haunted by memories from almost forty years ago . . . 

 Marion Deacon is a wife and mother, and not particularly good at being either. It’s the 1970s and in her small village the Swinging 60s, the wave of feminism, the prospect of an exciting life, have all swerved past her. Reading her teenage daughter’s diary, it seems that Sarah is on the threshold of getting everything her mother Marion was denied, and Marion cannot bear it – what she does next has terrible and heart-breaking consequences for the whole family.

 Janet Ellis writes of the exquisite pain of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the complexity of family and a mother-daughter relationship that is as memorable as it is utterly believable.

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 a play celebrating sixty years of Blue Peter. 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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