The Other Mrs Walker
By Mary Paulson-Ellis
A detective story with no detective . . .Tweet
This book had varying reviews from our book club. Some really loved it and scored it 8 out of 10 while others did not and scored it only 2. The story was confusing most of us felt, with times and characters moving backwards and forwards very rapidly – not just between the past and the present but between multiple time zones in each of those. The storyline was interesting but the characters neither likeable nor particularly well developed and it did not appear that any of the particular story threads were properly explored or concluded. It would have been helpful if the ending was less trite and better explained – some of us were left not really knowing who was dead and who wasn’t! The reference at the end to “the Other Mrs Walker” was not relevant some felt as that was not actually the name of the person being referred to. Overall it could have been much clearer and more interesting if the characters had been more defined and some felt that the number of coincidences made it a little less believable.
The average score was 6 out of 10
Another book that provoked some great discussions but was not generally like by our members. The concept and characters in the book were interesting and well developed but we didn't like the fractured narrative and some of the subject matter was difficult. We felt as readers we knew too much too early and that it made for a confusing read.
The Macclesfield Library Reading group received 10 copies of this book from the Reading Agency for free!
We met to discuss this on Thursday 1st February - the group really enjoyed this book despite finding some of the plot lines confusing. They enjoyed the writing style and particularly enjoyed the parts set in the past. Here are some reviews:
'A very interesting read with lots of interesting clues to be followed up on throughout the book. A book to make you think'
'Intricate story-line working backwards and forwards from the second world war to nearly the present day. The trials and misfortunes of the walker family ladies through the generations. The narrative keeps the reader intrigued until the end'
'intriguing, disturbing, thought-provoking'
'a real who's who'
'unnecessarily complicated - with a 'well done' wartime atmosphere'
'following the life and times of the Walker/Penny girls - a very interesting book. really enjoyed the story particularly the parts set in the past.'
Our group enjoyed the book, loved the writing style and appreciated the quirky humour used to tell the story. We found the story intriguing; some of us guessed, some of us didn't and some of us just thought we had. But we all had fun trying. We'd recommend it to others as a lighthearted read.
The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis
Reviewed by Penistone Library Readers’ Group.
A woman is found dead in an Edinburgh flat and this book tells the story of a middle-aged woman’s quest to discover who the dead woman is.
The author had and an excellent idea for the book which she converted into an intriguing plot but although it was probably all very clear in the author’s mind we found it extremely confusing. There were about 15 of us present when we discussed the book and 6 declared they did not enjoy it and gave up before page 100. The rest of us, on the whole, enjoyed it but the majority all agreed it was a very confusing book.
The author gradually reveals the links between the two families by a process of flashbacks which involve different characters over multiple timelines. It is not an easy read or a book to be read superficially as it does need some concentration to keep the characters and their links defined. It was all a bit like a jigsaw puzzle where every piece has to go in the correct spot to reveal the picture.
We felt it was difficult to feel empathy for any of the characters as they, each in their own way, had flaws which made them unlikeable. The word most used in our discussion about this book was “confusing” but despite that most of us said we enjoyed it. We found the lives of the children incredibly sad and their family life and living conditions were described by one member as “seedy and grimy” but that could be true of the time they were being raised, post WW1. The author gives a good sense of time and place all through the book which contributes to how authentic it feels but most of us found it a somewhat depressing read.
We received 14 free copies of the book from the publisher, via The Reading Agency, in return for an honest review.
My reading group read this very recently and it's received mixed reviews. EC thought 'The novel seemed to improve significantly for me as I read on. The twist at the end being the most unpredictable part of what I considered to be a fairly predictable storyline. This did not impede on my enjoyment however, as I was still interested to find out whether my own hypothesis was indeed the same as the author’s'. JK loved ' the way that the author uses subtle links between the current times and the past and I would give it a rating of 9 out of 10.' BT thought it was 'Well story written but I felt the ending was bit confusing.' MC said ' Overall I found this to be an interesting and original story though very depressing.I enjoyed the beginning, I lost interest slightly in the middle and then picked up again towards the end and raced to finish to see what happened. I don’t feel however that all my questions were satisfactorily answered at the end. I did feel slightly disappointed at the ending. At times, I did find it to be quite a confusing read, I could never seem to work out who was in possession of the brazil nut/cherub/brooch.Their characters were described so well that I did sort of guess what the twist at the end may be (and I was right). I liked the fact that I got one surprise out of it. The black car throughout had hinted at someone possibly following Margaret after her sudden departure from London. I thought this was a red herring and was surprised to find that it had been the other Mrs Walker along. I thought this was a nice touch to the story.Overall I would rate this book as between 3-4 stars out of 5, a pretty decent debut. I would read more of this author in the future.' This was MG's first review! 'This time shifting tale was absorbing and engaging.The author pulled me in with every page and created a narrative with many questions to keep me enthralled till the end! I miss the characters already. Brilliant!' SJ said ' should have been enjoyable to read. However I feel that the author had tried too hard to give the book twists and turns which meant that the story line was too hard to follow for me. I'm left feeling frustrated.' LM thought 'Whilst painfully slow initially, 'The other Mrs Walker' had me gripped after I persevered through the first few chapters. I liked the way the story was intricately woven between the past and the present through the use of flashbacks. Although it does not appear to be one from the outset, Mrs Walker revealed itself to be a detective novel at its finest, with a unique twist where the reader is put in the frame to become the detective.' LB thought it was an 'excellent novel. It wouldn't be a book I would normally choose, but once started I couldn't put it down.I would highly recommend it and look forward to reading her next novel.' SB was enthusiastic saying ' I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this in a long time. I loved the way the story went from past to present and each chapter, I didn't find the time-hopping distracting.The book kept you guessing till towards the end.I did feel the ending was a little unfinished. I had so many questions I wanted Margaret and Barbara to ask one another. And they didn't. This left me a little frustrated.' As for me I thought it was an intriguing story to begin with but felt the ending was so highly contrived as to be disappointing.