Hi guys, and welcome to my stop on Linda Green’s fabulous Blog Tour! Today I am posting not only my review of the fantastic and gripping „While My eyes Were Closed” but you are also for a real treat, as there is also an excerpt from the book! And scroll down for more info about the blog tour itself!
While My Eyes Were Closed
by Linda Green
Publishing Date: 5th May 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 416
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Psychological Drama
A nail-biting psychological drama for fans of Paula Daly, Daughter and The Girl with No Past.
One, two, three . . . Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa’s family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn’t a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa’s little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?
I’ve read some Linda Green’s books in the past and enjoyed them, and I know that when I’m in a need of a solid, realistic family – centred story I can easily reach for her novels. This time, however, even though the story is also centred around a family, the genre of this book is different to this that I have come to expect – namely, „While My Eyes Were Closed” is being advertised as a mystery/psychological thriller. But, as from time to time I really like to read something on the heavier side, I thought, why not, and happily agreed to read this book for review purposes and be a part of the blog tour. And am I happy that I came across this book!
Even though topic of this book is not an easy one, thanks to the light and forthcoming writing style I found myself flying through the pages. What was also so exceptional was the fact that the author could so brilliantly write the distinctive voices of the narrators, no matter if it was the shocked Lisa, the little Ella or Margot. She could incredibly well got into the heads of her characters and describe all their feelings. The chapters with the little Ella were the worst for me, I think, I am a very sensible person and I can easily imagine what other people feel, and seeing how this little girl missed her family, seeing her cry and not understand what’s happening, it was heart – breaking.
Yes, we did have the advantage, we knew that Ella’s good (whatever good means), unlike to her family, though at the end I wasn’t sure how this book is going to finish, but nevertheless, it is a story about every parents’ biggest nightmare: not knowing where your child is and what’s happening to them. When you child is dead, it’s tragic, but you know that nothing else can happen to them, but not knowing when they are… I think it is the worst feeling in the world, this helplessness, not knowing, the feeling that you can’t help… I simply can’t imagine it.
This novel is told alternatively by Lisa and Margot mostly, and slowly we start to learn what was the reason of taking Ella, and slowly all the loose ends start to wrap up. I started to suspect rather quickly what happened in the past, but it didn’t spoil the story to me, and actually the bottom line took me a little by surprise because I wasn’t able to guess everything. What I also liked was that the author left the end open, let us write our own ending.
I had some mixed feelings about Lisa and, to be honest, I wasn’t so sure about her at the beginning. She just seemed so cold and not at all bothered but maybe it was only a mask, maybe she just protected herself this way, although I still think that she didn’t react according to the situation. Though, on the other hand, how should one react in such situation? Howl? Shout? Be depressed? Or maybe I am just like the press, judging her?
But the author has in a fantastic way described how the whole family experienced this situation and how all and each of them were trying to cope with it – though mostly they didn’t cope at all, especially Lisa’s dad. She has also excellently portrayed Ella’s abductor, with her changing moods.
This is more character driven than action story, as the pace is not shockingly quick, but it’s fast enough and I enjoyed every single word in this story. Thanks to this average pace we can see how the grief affects Lisa and her family, and it was sometimes heart – breaking to see people so broken, people who didn’t know what’s happening to their little girl.
The story not only explores maternal love in many different ways but it also shows how quick we are to jump to conclusions, especially with the „help” of social media, and how quick we are to judge on appearances. It is also rather unusual to so very quickly learn who the kidnapper was but it was necessary this time and we quickly learn what urged them to go as far as kidnapping the child. You could say that with knowing from the very beginning what happened and to whom the tension in the book may be missing, but it was there, because we really didn’t know how this book is going to end, what’s going to happen and if Ella will come back home to her frantic looking for her family. The tension comes from the kidnapper and the situation Ella is found in, but also from Ella’s family, as it quickly becomes clear that not everything is as good within it. But I’d love to hear more about Lisa and her husband’s background, as we were given small hints that there is something between them – I mean, they do love each other but I had a feeling there is no trust between them, that Lisa was distancing herself a little and I didn’t find why it’s like this. I also had a feeling that some issues were started and never mentioned again, and I was missing the explanation of this strained situation between Lisa and Chloe – what really happened? Was this really the fact that Chloe didn’t feel supported by her mother? Was this the typical teenager/mum clash?
What I also liked is that the book presents a slightly different take on missing child novels that are lately popping up like mushrooms and concentrates more on the grieving process, on the fallout of the family, on the why rather than on continuously asking who did it. It shows how Ella’s mum tries to cope with the guilt that her daughter went missing when she „was on duty”, but it also very gentle deals with Muriel’s mental health problem, because I do think there was a mental health problem, as she was trying to turn Ella into someone she wasn’t. And when we are at Muriel – probably because I empathised more with Lisa, I’ve never felt a bit of sympathy to the abductor, even though the author gave them a chance to explain themselves through the chapters from their point of view. Yes, I understood where they were coming from but there was not a single moment that I sympathised with them.
It was a psychological thriller with a soul and feelings – the feelings that the author has made so visible, so palpable. Hats off to Linda Green for the way she has written this book, where she presented all points of view and gave all the characters a chance to tell their story without judging them. It is a really gripping read that keeps you turning page after page and I desperately wanted to know how it’s going to end (I had a little problem here. My review copy ended on page 374, in mid sentence, missing almost three chapters but fortunately the publisher met the challenge and I could read the book to the end. I would die not knowing the end! Thank you, Quercus!!!). It is a very cleverly plotted book and the there were many questions that were coming to my mind but the story didn’t dragged and all the questions were answered in just the right time, so that the book kept my instant interest and I desperately wanted to know what’s going to happen. Really great, high – end read, and it comes highly recommended from me.
The house reeks of emptiness. It does so all the time but
I notice it particularly in the mornings. Not that it was
ever a noisy house. Not like some of those chaotic places
you see in documentaries about people on benefits on
the television. But there was always some low-level noise
in the mornings. A workman-like hum as Malcolm and
Matthew went about their morning ablutions and got
ready for the day ahead.
I didn’t really notice it at the time. It is one of those
things you only miss when it has gone. There are rather
a lot of those. Malcolm was generally considerate with
the toilet seat, Matthew perhaps not so much. It is
strange to think how it used to bother me. And now I
am bothered by something I do not have to do. Do not
have to remind someone of.
And socks. I am disturbed by the lack of socks in the
house. It hardly seems right, does it? I mean most women
are forever complaining about having to wash them
(my mother even used to iron my father’s socks) and
find lost ones. But now, living in a house without socks
doesn’t seem right somehow. It is yin without yang.
Everything is out of balance. There are plenty of houses
with only female occupants of course. It is simply that
this house was never meant to be one of them.
I reach over and turn on the radio. I am not particularly
fond of Classic FM. I rather like John Suchet – although
I could never understand what he was doing on ITV
instead of the BBC – but I would prefer not to have to listen
to the adverts. Still, it was one of the things I discovered
after Malcolm left – that not having Classic FM on in the
mornings reminded me more of his absence than having
I think Matthew preferred it on too. Although maybe
for the same reasons I did. I don’t know because he never
spoke about his father after he left. Matthew knew better
than to bring such things up at the dinner table. Or
anywhere else for that matter. And I, of course, know
better than to discuss Matthew’s departure too.
I hear Melody miaowing outside the door. She has
never been allowed in the bedrooms. It troubles me that
so many people do permit such things. Certainly she
has been a huge comfort to me, and I understand the
human soul’s need for comfort, I truly do. But we should
not accept another species into our most private room.
That is how the lines start to become blurred. People
have this ridiculous notion that we and animals are
somehow on the same level. I blame Disney films. I blame
them for a lot of things. All of this over-sentimentality
and the vulgar Americanisms which have crept into
our language. I saw the P. L. Travers film at the cinema.
They had it on for elevenses at the Picture House in
Hebden Bridge. Saving Mr Banks, I think they called it.
Though personally I think it was Mr Disney who needed
saving. Poor Miss Travers was rather lazily portrayed, I
thought. I mean it’s all too easy, isn’t it? The middleaged,
middle-class Englishwoman as an odd and
emotionally cold spinster, out of step with the modern
world. Maybe if we’d listened more to the likes of
her then the world would be in a rather better state
I prop myself up with the pillows. I’ve never believed
in jumping straight out of bed. You need a little time to
acclimatise, to see the world from a vertical position
before you actually set foot in it. I listen to the news, or
rather I am aware that the news is on. The words themselves
wash over me. You get to an age where you have
heard it all before. Each item only a variation on wellworn
themes, and it doesn’t really matter that the
names are different, or even some of the details. Because
nothing changes. Whatever sort of fuss is kicked up
about these things, the old order will be maintained.
And one day these young people, young people like Matthew,
will accept it as I do, rather than thinking they
can somehow change the way things are.
BE SURE TO CHECK THE OTHER STOPS ON „WHILE MY EYES WERE CLOSED” BLOG TOUR!