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

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

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 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.

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 successful month long run of Makes, Bakes and Outtakes, 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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