Whispers Through a Megaphone
By Rachel Elliott
Sometimes the world can seem too much for just one personTweet
What a lovely, quirky, witty and ultimately heart warming novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's nice and easy to read, gently witty and highly entertaining but still tackles some difficult issues. It would be a great one for a reading group and I recommend it highly.
Our group mostly loved this book. We were fortunate enough to win afternoon tea with Rachel Elliott. She was great, so relaxed and easy to talk to. She even sent us her spotify playlist which she listened to all the time when writing Whispers.
We weren't distracted by the use of Twitter, which we thought was a comment on the times we live in, and how much people reveal about their private lives through social media. It's an easy read too, and thought provoking.
A great first novel. We await Rachel's next with baited breath.
Out of all the characters we disliked Frances (in spite of her mental health problems) finding her calculating and malicious. She had little regard for Miriam at all. Due to our dislike of France's we felt that her suicide was a final act of defiant control. She knew that Miriam would be scarred forever.
With reference to the quotation from Charlotte's Web, we felt that as humans we are multi-faceted and responsive to the changing environment around us, thus we are always ' making it up'.
We had little sympathy with Sadie. She knew she was lesbian; she put aside her sexuality for convenience. We felt the lesbian thread as superfluous to the novel, and not terribly convincing.
This question, "what if" we found unanswerable, and had little to do with the novel.
The characters were in a better place. They were all more self-aware. Whether knowing oneself makes you happy depends on what you find!
The group was divided on whether the setting was city or small-town However we liked Boo's sense of being a neighbour.
Love was portrayed in various ways in the novel. They all seemed to be looking for something, which was often elusive. Deep friendship and care seemed more important. Fenella was faithful (but why did she allow Miriam to isolate herself), Ralph and Miriam were tender to one another (maybe because both were floundering); Boo was clearly in love with Miriam and worshipped her. Her estranged family loved her without knowing her.
The social media could have been a vehicle for humour, which we feel was under used in the novel. We found Sadie’s tweeting contrived.
The megaphone represented her voice, regaining a sense of self, perhaps family and confidence.
In general we all felt that it was clear that the author’s profession came through in her writing. Her language reflected an enquiring mind and she possibly drew anecdotally on her experiences.
One reader considered her narrative changes in direction may have reflected her clients' mood changes. On a less positive note, everyone seemed to have 'issues' and at times the reader felt that they were reading her appointment diary.
A final thought. The novel had great potential and was enjoyed by most. However we were frustrated that some points were underdeveloped and others laboured.
A darkly whimsical and unlikely tale. I quite enjoyed the story itself but found the writing somewhat staccato which irritated a little. The characters had so much angst, whether justified or not, it was hard to believe they were only in their 30s. It left me with more questions then answers for instance how the intervening 20+ years were spent by Miriam and her mother. How did Matthew find out the address and yet his father seemed not to know anything about Miriam and Frances, etc. I found the names too silly, Swoon? Parsley?
My book group had some mixed feelings too. We were lucky enough to win a set of this title for our group via Reading Groups for Everyone. This has been the first book our newest member has read in years and she found it an easy read with a decent dollop of social media as a feature she could appreciate. However one of our founding members, who doesn't 'do' social media, found it a distraction in an otherwise excellent read. A couple of us found the writing style a little condescending at times. One member didn't enjoy it all, so unlikely was the lead character's life story. All in all decent enough debut.