Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Untying the Knot - Linda Gillard

'We set each other free, free to prove we could live without each other.'

Untying the Knot is a beautiful, character-driven novel, depicting the devastating consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting from a life spent in war zones, making bombs safe. Magnus has been severely affected by his former role, traumatised by flashbacks and scarred by horrendous memories, and his now ex-wife Fay has borne the brunt of his erratic behaviour until one day she could take no more, and she finally left him and moved on.

Magnus now has a new partner, Nina, who lives with him in the home that he previously shared with Fay. Tullibardine ‘Tully’ Tower, a place that takes on such an important role in the novel that it is like a character in itself, a formidable old 16th-century ruin, that Magnus insisted on taking on, restoring, against all protests from Fay that it was too much. Daughter Emily remained with her father, and has a new love, Rick, and there is talk of marriage. 

This is another beautifully written, emotional novel with depth in terms of characterisation and plot. I will be honest and admit I have genuinely loved and enjoyed reading every book that I have read by this author, but this one is probably my favourite. I am keen to read it again. It was one of the very first books I read on my Kindle and it was certainly a fine one to being with! I was gripped by this story and felt drawn into the characters' lives. 

I loved the way the characters were revealed in the opening chapter and thought this was very cleverly written. Linda Gillard has done her research on the topics incorporated into the story here, and has handled them sensitively but always with realism. 

The idea of memory is strong in this novel. For Magnus, memories are rife with 'demons.' Fay meanwhile deals with the memories of others, creating textiles for people, 'picture-histories':

'I spend my working life preserving other people's memories, trying to capture them in a form of textile 'still life', but I spent much of my marriage watching the man I loved being tortured - all but destroyed - by the demons of memory.'

Another strong emotion felt by Fay is fear: 'I was scared...Scared of how much I loved Magnus; how much my body wanted him; how much he wanted me; how I might fail him; how he might fail me;...I was scared of how ill Magnus was and how ill he'd always be...' 

I enjoyed discovering aspects of the old tower and the history of the place which were described within the book. 

There was also surprise and humour alongside the sadness and the more serious elements of the storyline.

This author seems to grasp how to write convincingly about love and emotion, the highs and lows, the intense passion and the deep pain, none more intense than that shared between Magnus and Fay here.

They are rounded characters who are flawed, scarred, confused, vulnerable and therefore so very human, so believable, and so compelling for the reader. They may be able to live without each other, but have they ever stopped loving each other?

The ending is thrilling and brilliant!

I think the cover of this one is beautiful. 

A marvellous read. 

Available to buy as an e-book for Kindle from Amazon now.

I bought this book. 

You can visit the author's website here and read more about the inspiration for this novel and the themes involved.


  1. Lovely review. Haven't read anything by this author so far but could be tempted. !
    Ali B

    1. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting Ali. I have enjoyed every book that I have read by Linda Gillard. I do hope you try one soon.

  2. I have this tucked away on my kindle I think.

    1. Thanks for commenting Ellie. I hope you enjoy this one.

  3. Thanks, Lindsay, for this lovely review. It's one of the nicest I've had for UNTYING THE KNOT.

    I was glad you liked the cover. It was meant to be ironical, but some readers assumed the image signified chick lit and passed on.

    It's difficult choosing a cover for a genre-buster. This was an image I considered as an alternative cover, long before 50 SHADES OF GREY. But when I tried it out on my FB followers they didn't like it. (In any case it's very difficult to sell non-genre women's fiction with a man on the cover.)

    I'll be bringing this ebook out in pb next year and I'm thinking hard what to do about the cover as I'll have the opportunity to change it.

    1. Thanks very much for taking the time visit and comment Linda. I loved this book and how it captured the often very real situation when two people can't seem to be together but can't stand to be apart. I really do like the cover of this one but evidently it has had a mixed response. That's an interesting other choice, but personally I prefer this one. It must be hard to decide whether to change this one for the paperback edition or not.

  4. linda is a very a very talented writer and this is a wonderful book! We are so proud to include it as a 2012 B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting. I am glad to hear it has received such an honour!

  5. This sounds like my kind of book! Thank you for reviewing it. Book blog reviews are such a great way to find out about books to search out.

    1. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting Karen. I would recommend all of this author's novels. I love reading book blog's and have certainly found out about a host of books this way too.

  6. A lovely review Lindsay I am so pleased that you enjoyed Untying the Knot. Do please feel free to leave a link to your review on my own review or on the FB page.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. It's great reading your comments and I really appreciate them :)