Originally published: 2 April 2020
Author: Abbie Greaves
Published by: Cornerstone
Length: 352 pages
Reading dates: 14-16 March 2020
A lifetime together.
Six months of silence.
One last chance.
This story is about Frank and Maggie who have been married for 40 years. In the last 6 months, Frank hasn’t spoken to Maggie at all….not one word and she has no idea why because he won’t tell her. For 6 long months, they have lived together under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten every meal together in an increasingly uncomfortable quiet. Their marriage still continues as lovingly as ever only it is playing out in mute.
The book begins as Frank finds Maggie collapsed at the kitchen table, an empty packet of sleeping tablets by her side. She is taken to hospital and placed in a medically induced coma – the doctors aren’t hopeful she will recover. Can Frank find the words to explain his silence before it is too late?
The first half of the book is told from Frank’s point of view as we feel his devastation at what Maggie has done, his grief that he may loose her and his guilt at his silence over the last 6 months. The nurse looking after Maggie suggests that coma patients often respond favourably to hearing the voices of their loved ones so Frank starts to talk. He tells the story of how they met back in Oxford when Frank was studying his DPhil and Maggie was a nurse in a doctors surgery. They chat briefly in a pub and Frank can’t get her out of his mind and when he sees her again a few weeks later he asks her out. From here we hear about how their relationship develops. Hearing from Frank about the adoration he feels for Maggie is so beautiful and touching – he cannot quite believe that someone so beautiful and full of life would want to spend time with a stuffy and inexperienced academic like himself. He continues describing their life together in his visits to her hospital bed and is almost at the point of explaining why he stopped speaking when there is a change in her condition and he is sent home.
At home he finds a diary of Maggie’s (which she intended for him to find) and from here we switch to Maggie’s voice who tells her story and why she felt she needed to end her life. There are quite a few shocking revelations for Frank as he reads her words but it doesn’t diminish the love her feels for her.
This was an absolutely stunning debut. I knew as soon as I read the blurb that it was just the sort of book I would love and it exceeded my expectations. The pace of this book is just perfect and I loved being an insider to their marriage and it’s ups and downs. The secrets that are revealed are heart-breaking. A compelling and tender story that had me captivated from start to finish, this will be definitely be one of my books of the year!
Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and to Bookish Chat for the gifted advanced copy! Take a look at the other great bloggers below.
About the author:
Abbie Greaves studied at Cambridge University before working in a literary agency for a number of years.
She was inspired to write her first novel, THE SILENT TREATMENT, after reading a newspaper article about a boy in Japan who had never seen his parents speak to one another before.
Abbie lives in Edinburgh with her boyfriend and is hard at work on her follow-up novel, THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.