Sasha is just about managing to hold her life together. She is raising her teenage son Zac, coping with an absent husband and caring for her ageing, temperamental and alcoholic mother, as well as holding down her own job. But when Zac begins to suspect that he has a secret sibling, Sasha realises that she must relive the events of a devastating night which she has done her best to forget for the past nineteen years.
Sasha’s mother, Annie, is old and finds it difficult to distinguish between past and present and between truth and lies. As Annie sinks deeper back into her past, she revisits the key events in her life which have shaped her emotionally. Through it all, she remains convinced that her dead husband Joe is watching and waiting for her. But there’s one thing she never told him, and as painful as it is for her to admit the truth, Annie is determined to go to Joe with a guilt-free conscience.
As the plot unfurls, traumas are revealed and lies uncovered, revealing long-buried secrets which are at the root of Annie and Sasha’s fractious relationship.
The novel spans several decades, telling the history of the Stein family from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Speaking of her inspiration for her novel, Deborah says; ‘My own mother was evacuated at the age of five during World War Two and my father was a young man working as an ARP warden. This novel is purely fictitious, but I wanted to explore the traumas that many ordinary people of the war generation suffered, experiences which would be quite unimaginable to many of us today and then to contrast them with the issues we all face in the modern day.’
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Deborah, thank you for stopping by The Book Review. Can you tell us which character in What's Left Unsaid was your favorite to write?
I found the character of Joe the easiest and possibly the most enjoyable to write. This comes partly from the fact that Joe is speaking from a perspective, which I have imagined might come after death. He has lived his life, so he can look back over its events with a certain level of objectivity, commenting on the action objectively and with a certain cynical knowledge which the other characters do not possess. Well, he thinks he can, but Joe is not in full possession of the truth, even after death, and it is only at the end of the novel that this is revealed to him. Regardless, Joe is positive, forward-looking and forward-thinking. He is a driven, self-made man, speeding through his life with an unshakeable confidence that he will succeed.
In the first part of the novel, Joe is a commentator, filling the reader in on certain details, reminiscing with Annie and Sasha and talking with the clear benefit of hindsight. Yet we do not know who Joe really is until Part 2, which is devoted solely to Joe’s point of view. I wanted the reader to understand his background and to see how far he had come. It also allows Joe to give a more factual account of his life with Annie, as Annie’s own perspective is clouded by her growing dementia and even though she recollects the past far better than the present, it is never quite clear how much of what she says is true. For me as a writer, Joe was the steady presence in my mind. I seemed to always know what Joe might say next, while that was never always the case with the other characters.Thank you, Deborah! Best of luck with the book!!
What's Left Unsaid by Deborah Stone
What’s Left Unsaid by Deborah Stone is a 2018 Troubador Publishing publication.
An effective, emotional, intimate look at the realities of family and the secrets they keep-
On the surface, Sasha’s life is stable. But, behind closed doors she is dealing with a moody teenager, an absentee husband, and a mother suffering from dementia.
In short order, Sasha’s life implodes, as stunning secrets bubble to the surface and the fallout is devastating Yet at the end of the day, those shocking revelations just might be the catalyst for closure and new beginnings.
I love family sagas and drama. Just love it. All the complexities of human relationships are endlessly fascinating to me. It goes without saying then, that this book was a good fit for me.
I thought the voice of ‘Joe’ which comes from the grave was a very nice touch. His insights are invaluable, as well as poignant.
Families are complicated, and while secrets are often what makes family dramas so compelling in novels, but in truth, most families have secrets. This is why, I think, when we read about family turmoil and challenges, we are looking to see how the characters react, the way they meet these unexpected twists in their otherwise normal routines. We like to see if they fail or succeed, if they become cynical or bitter, or if they rise to the challenge and make the best of what they’ve been given. The author does a fantastic job of exploring the way each character dealt with stress, tragedy and loss and how it shaped them as human beings, for better or worse.
This is a very absorbing novel, quickly read, but very thought provoking. The emotions evoked run the gamut, but, are so realistic I felt like a voyeur intruding on this family’s raw and most private moments.
Deborah Stone as a real knack for characterizations and handles a dual timeline with ease. This is a writer I will be keeping my eye on.
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Deborah Stone read English Literature at Durham University. She lives in North London with her husband, two sons and her dog.