With Sarah Jasmon’s The Summer of Secrets one of my earliest reviews here on Linda’s Book Bag, I was thrilled when Sarah got in touch to see if I’d like to read her latest book You Never Told Me. I loved the quality of The Summer of Secrets (even if I hadn’t a clue then how to set out a blog post) and jumped at the chance to read You never Told Me. My enormous thanks to Sarah and Black Swan for my very early copy.
You Never Told Me will be published on 19th March by Transworld and is available for pre-order here.
You Never Told Me
A year ago, Charlie’s life seemed to be following a plan: she had a beautiful house, a lovable dog and an upcoming wedding. But she felt trapped. A few months before the big day, ignoring the warnings from her family, she abandoned her life and fled to the other side of the world in a bid for freedom.
But when her mother unexpectedly falls ill, Charlie has to cut her trip short. She flies home, but by the time she gets to the hospital, it’s too late.
Her mother is gone, but she’s left a mystery behind. Why did she buy a canal boat, and where did the money for it come from? As Charlie attempts to work through her grief and pick up the pieces of her life, she follows the threads of her mother’s secret past – but has she missed her chance to learn the truth?
My Review of You Never Told Me
Charlie’s on her way home – if only she knew what that meant.
I just loved You Never Told Me. It’s not a fast paced visceral thriller or a bright and breezy uplit, but rather a mature, thoughtful, luxurious and beautifully written exploration of identity and belonging that I found utterly convincing and affecting. It may sound a strange way of articulating it, but You Never Told Me feels like a high quality, enduring, product in a throwaway world.
Sarah Jasmon writes with such persuasive authority. Her descriptions appeal to the senses so that reading You Never Told Me is a very visual experience. Her personal boating experience means that every aspect relating to the canal and the boat is exquisitely defined with the effect that the reader feels transported to her settings so vividly. The boat and its surrounds are every bit as important as the people in this story. I loved too the natural direct speech and the extended, integral and organic metaphor of water and life. There’s a richness here that is so satisfying as it underpins an intense, claustrophobic atmosphere that made me feel quite wistful.
Initially I thought Charlie was reckless, selfish and immature, but as Sarah Jasmon gradually uncovered Charlie’s personality, her background and her thoughts, I found her an incredibly human, flawed and believable character whom I cared about without question. Charlie embodies what so many women think and feel, as she struggles not only with her own identity, but that of her mother. Since I finished reading the book I have been thinking about her, wondering how she is getting on!
Indeed, it is the theme of identity that makes You never Told Me so absorbing. Sarah Jasmon explores how well or little we know ourselves, let alone others, how we make assumptions about others and how we never really ask the right questions until it is too late. It is through this exploration of identity that the mystery of Britta and the past is so skilfully portrayed. I found it mesmerising.
I thoroughly enjoyed You never Told Me. It is the kind of book that slides deeper and deeper into the reader’s mind the more it is read until it is impossible to put down or to forget once it is read. It’s moving, atmospheric and elegantly written and I really recommend it. It’s fabulous.
About Sarah Jasmon
Sarah Jasmon lives on a canal boat in Lancashire, which is also the setting for her two novels – The Summer of Secrets and You Never Told Me. She has written short stories for a wide selection of publications and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Harper’s Bazaar short story competition. She is an Associate Tutor in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Geography.