Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Dead Wife's Handbook - Hannah Beckerman

About the author....
Hannah Beckerman lives in London with her husband and their incredibly lively toddler. She is a former TV and film producer who spent fifteen years producing and commissioning documentaries about the Arts, History and Science before turning her hand to writing.

Other than reading and sleeping (both rare but much-cherished pleasures) she's a big fan of great TV drama, films, long country walks and travel. She currently spends far too much time on social media but would, of course, deny the fact if anyone pointed it out. 

The Dead Wife's Handbook is Hannah's first novel. She sincerely hopes it won't be her last.

Contact Hannah
Hannah's website:

About the book...
The Dead Wife's Handbook is the stunning emotional debut from author Hannah Beckerman.

'Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she's lost and the life she'll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for

My thoughts...
I won a signed copy of this novel in a competition and couldn’t wait to read it and post a review for Hannah who I got know a bit about after spending time chatting with her on twitter.  I went on to choose this as the March read for the book group I’m a member of which is why I didn’t want to post my review until after the meeting.

The first thing that drew me in was the gorgeous cover - the colours are so vibrant and stunning - I just wanted to pick it up and run my hands repeatedly over it.  The synopsis also hooked me as it hinted at an unusual story that piqued my interest - I’d always thought I’d like to be able to check on the family if I was to go first!!

The book revolves around Rachel, who dies suddenly, without warning and that of her husband Max and  daughter Ellie, along with their family and friends who are trying to help them build a new life for themselves without Rachel.  Rachel is able to glimpse snippets of her former life through a cloud like haze and the story is told through her.

I knew this book would be an emotional one - who wouldn’t be moved by the grief of a family struggling to rebuild their lives after the mother is snatched from them? What I wasn’t prepared for was the range of emotions I felt.  This book was of a size that I’d normally devour in the course of a week-end but it took me almost a week to read as I had to keep stopping to gather my thoughts. 

Hannah’s descriptions were so vivid - I cried, I laughed and I had arguments inside my head and willed things to happen or not!  Whoever thought it might be nice to peak at ‘your’ life after you’ve gone is an idiot, it felt like such an act of cruelty.  The total opposite of what I thought would be quite nice.  If you couldn’t be with your loved ones any longer, at least you’d still feel part of their lives by watching in - absolutely not!!  Watching them suffer, and not being able to comfort and then the pain of watching them move on would be horrendous. I physically felt Rachel’s pain - only able to observe, not scoop up her daughter and kiss her better.  Max, how could you let your friends, mother and brother tell you to get ‘out there’ after only a year? 

For me this book was very thought provoking, I’ve discussed it not just at book group but with other friends too.  I’ve recommended it to everyone who’ll listen to me - it’s really made me search my soul. I have decided though, when I’m gone, I’m gone!  I don’t want to be able look down and suffer because I can’t touch or hold my family and friends when they need me most, instead I’ll try to show and tell them now whilst I’m here.

I can only imagine the tears Hannah must have shed whilst writing this book. The emotions I felt were raw and quite real. I love a book that makes me think and question life and situations and two weeks after finishing this book I’m still doing just that. Grief affects us all differently and the fact that Rachel, Max, Ellie and their friends and family were at different stages made it all the more difficult.  My heart literally broke in particular for Rachel and Ellie - you can’t replace a mother/daughter relationship but in Eve, Hannah I think you gave us the next best thing.

This is a truly amazing book which I have gladly recommended to all of my friends.

I gave it 5/5 stars

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