The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy was the last book I picked up in a lockdown panic book buying trip to Sainsbury’s. I can live without new clothes and shoes and various things around the house. I can’t live without books. (I also picked up My Brilliant Friend and The Two Lives of Lydia Bird.) I’d read a book by Emma Kennedy before – Shoes for Anthony – which I’d really enjoyed, so I felt I was in safe hands with this one.
When Rachel is jilted on her wedding day, she is forced to go home to live with her mum, Eleanor. Rachel and Eleanor don’t have an easy relationship, and it is exacerbated by their grief for Rachel’s beloved father, Charlie. Rachel wants to wallow in grief for her lost marriage and her lost father, but Eleanor is much more matter of fact.
The narrative switches between Rachel’s present day story and Eleanor’s youth as an art student in Soho. Rachel’s cold and distant mother once had a rather fabulous life, which Rachel knows nothing about. Eleanor has been keeping a secret for many years, and Rachel is determined to find out the truth.
I read this straight after The Two Lives of Lydia Bird and I was amazed at the similarities between them – in their own way, they are both books about grief and a lost marriage. I seem to have this knack of reading similar books consecutively, without knowing beforehand that they are going to be similar.
Lydia Bird is a lighter read, where as The Things We Left Unsaid feels a bit more grown up. It is an enjoyable family story with some interesting and believable characters, particularly Agnes, Eleanor’s younger sister, who seems to have a better relationship with Rachel than Eleanor does. It is a fairly gentle book, but with a few twists which mean I can’t go into too much detail on the plot here. To me, it had a very satisfying ending.
If you enjoy a read about families and the secrets they keep, I would definitely recommend The Things We Left Unsaid.