Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Things We Never Said

By Lynn Willoughby

Things We Never Said ~ Nick Alexander

This novel has an interesting format.  It is written in the present tense – where Sean is struggling with the recent death of his beloved wife Catherine.  While she was undergoing chemo treatments, Catherine had left a series of 29 photographs and a cassette to go along with each one.  She has also left written instructions for Sean to open one envelope each week.  

Some photos Sean immediately recognizes and they instantly elicit good, or sometimes bad, memories.  Like April’s first day of school where she is sobbing, Catherine is sobbing and Sean remembers the huge shouting match they had in front of the school when Catherine refuses to quit hugging their daughter.  

While Catherine comments more than once that the morphine has loosened her tongue, she nevertheless reveals things that surprise Sean – like how uncomfortable and lonely she was when they moved to Cambridge.  Other revelations have Sean on his knees weeping , or howling with laughter.

Meanwhile, life in the present goes on.  Sean goes to work, tries to keep up the gardening, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking.  He visits April and Ronan in London.  He visits his mother in the nursing home.  Some Sundays he can’t wait to open the next envelope, some weeks he is gutted and will skip the envelope altogether.  Some weeks he is just plain angry with Catherine and doesn’t want to hear her voice.

This is above all a love story.  Catherine and Sean were married for over thirty years and Sean thought he knew Catherine. But her intimate confessions – while sometimes funny, often witty, mostly endearing, will rock his world with their honesty. 

This is a really enjoyable read.

  • The Photographer’s Wife
  • The Other Son
  • ………..and others

Who Knew? 

A punt is a flat bottomed boat with a square cut bow designed for use in small rivers.  The punter usually propels the punt by pushing against the river with a pole.

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