Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What She Left by Rosie Fiore @rararesources

What She Left Banner

Genre: Women's fiction; contemporary fiction
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin; Main edition
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1760292494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1760292492

What She Left Cover
Synopsis: Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She's beautiful, accomplished, organised - the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.

But Helen wasn't abducted or murdered. She's chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home.

Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life.

He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He's losing control.

But then one day, it really is Helen's face he sees...

Review: This is a very different sort of family story. When Helen disappears, it's not because she's been kidnapped or murdered. She just walks away from her family one morning. The book is told from four different viewpoints: Sam, Helen, Sam's oldest daughter, and Lara (a mother with a child at the same school as Sam's girls).

Through the various viewpoints, we learn more and more about Helen and her life, and how her disappearance impacts her family. When we get about midway through the story, we learn some surprising information about Helen that shows readers a different side of her and of the story.

I was grabbed by this story from the first chapter and could hardly bear the times I had to put it down. Seeing how the family members grew and developed through the story was a joy.

Rating: Four stars

Book excerpt
Lara, a single mother who has a child at the same school as Helen Cooper, is the first person to know Helen has gone missing. We see Helen through her eyes – as someone, not a close friend, who has observed Helen and made assumptions about who she is.


Every middle-class London school has a Helen. Perhaps the Helen at your school has shining blonde hair or twinkling dark eyes. Perhaps she’s called Sarah, or Rebecca or Shariza. The principle is the same. Our Helen had a clear, bell-like voice, and you had to speak to her for a little while before you picked up the slight twang and upward inflection that told of her Australian origins. She had a smooth, chestnut-brown ponytail, clear, pale skin and wide blue eyes. You would often see the ponytail swinging as she ran briskly through the park, half an hour before pick-up time. But more often than not, you’d see it swinging as she laughed among a bustling group of parents in the playground. She’d be there before school, after school, at every school event, at the school gate collecting for the summer fete which she’d organized. She’d be at the open day, merrily guiding a group of prospective parents from classroom to classroom. Outside the classroom, she’d wink kindly at the harried mothers rushing in late, as her own demure girls, their smooth ponytails equally perfectly brushed, waited by her side. She produced perfect cakes for the cake sale, perfect costumes for the class assembly and perfect financial records after the astonishingly successful Christmas fayre. She was perfect.
And then she vanished.
It turned out that I was the first person at school to know she’d gone missing. Ella Barker did an interview with the Daily Mail and said she was the first to know ‘because Helen was always the first at the school gates, so I noticed immediately when she wasn’t there’. But that wasn’t true. Ella was long gone when we realized, and so were all the other Year Three mothers. Ella didn’t care if what she said wasn’t true. The Mail sent a stylist and took a picture of her in her neat front garden, and said how much her house was worth, so she was thrilled.

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About the author
What She Left Author Pic
 Rosie Fiore was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied drama at the University of the Witwatersrand and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazines, advertising, comedy and the corporate market. 

Her first two novels, This Year's Black and Lame Angel were published by Struik in South Africa. This Year's Black was longlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Award and has subsequently been re-released as an e-book. Babies in Waiting, Wonder Women and Holly at Christmas were published by Quercus. She is the author of After Isabella, also published by Allen & Unwin.
Rosie’s next book, The After Wife (written as Cass Hunter), will be published by Trapeze in 2018, and in translation in seven countries around the world.

Rosie lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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