What We Didn’t Say by Rory Dunlop
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing/Twenty7
Publishing Date: 6th October 2016
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
A darkly funny story of a marriage in crisis, perfect for readers who loved Us by David Nicholls and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
‘A touching, even-handed and thoroughly engaging tale of love, jealousy and fatherhood’
Jim Crace, multi-award-winning author of Harvest
Jack and Laura have separated. Jack thinks it’s all Laura’s fault.
Jack writes to Laura, desperate to put across his side of the story.
Wryly sarcastic and intensely well-observed, What We Didn’t Say is about that gap between words and feelings where relationships live – and die.
Let me tell you right at the beginning that I found the concept of the book really fascinating – it is about Laura and Jack, separated for two years, and we are in fact reading Jack’s diary that he’s been writing, explaining what has happened and what led to this separation. Moreover, she lets Laura read this diary, and her comments, often so sarcastic and clear – headed, added so much to this whole story and let us also see two points of view as – let’s be honest – there are always two sides to every story. I think it is a brilliant idea, I actually felt like the proverbial fly on the wall, having access to all the most intimate and hidden feelings and thoughts. And I was incredibly curious what happened!
This is mostly a comedy (or sometimes also a tragedy) of errors. It shows how much two people can lose if they are not able to communicate, when – because of being stubborn, or just because, to spite – they stop talking, their life if full of misunderstanding and understatements. I just couldn’t stop thinking, why the hell won’t they talk to each other?
I’d personally go crazy with such a partner like Jack was and I wanted to applaud Laura of her never ending patience to him. He was so unsecure, so unsure of this relationship in my opinion, and he was so, so controlling, he wanted to know everything about Laura, her whereabouts, people she spent time with, and I really was like hellooo? Really? I really, truly wasn’t sure what Laura saw in Jack, but oh well, love is blind, right? And I don’t mean the age difference, I just think they were not made for each other. But it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like Jack – because I liked him and I was thinking that in other circumstances, in different background he could be a great character. He was pessimistic, his glass was always half empty and he drove me crazy but somehow, believe it or not, I DID care for him.
The story dragged a bit too much for my liking and there were moments that felt like we were staying in the same place or running in circles, especially the second part of it, it lost the impact, felt much slower and was not as funny as the first part. It was also really frustrating to see that there were so many chances and that Laura and Jack could spare themselves all this pain and troubles only speaking and listening each other! I couldn’t help it but I was angry with both of them – although, to be totally honest, I was much more angry with Jack.
Thanks to Laura’s remark we also get a chance to get to know her point of view on the whole situation, and it DID shed new light at the whole situation. The way it is written made me feel really involved and immersed in their lives and I had a feeling I know the ins and outs of them both. The author has brilliantly captured their personalities, their sense of humour, their feelings and emotions. It’s a very character – driven book, as next to Laura and Jack there is a whole bunch of background characters, very significant to the whole story. He also provided a very realistic and accurate picture of how jealousy and insecurity can destroy a relationship, in a very detailed and very realistic way. It was really deep and insightful story about love, family dynamics, relationships, a story that we can relate to, I think. The way it was narrated made it easy to read, simple, straight to the point and very clear. It was bitter – sweet and under the humour lies sadness and resentment and maybe it was a little too overwhelming for me.
Altogether I found “What We Didn’t Say” an interesting, sharp and thought – provoking story with a very suitable title – it was really about things that the characters didn’t say to each other. It was a deep read, and it gave a great insight into the soul of a marriage that want to survive but is also not sure if it’s the best idea. Real, sharp and honest, showing how it really is and that relationships aren’t so easy and showing the importance of communication.