By Liz Treacher
Rated: 4 stars ****
I’ve read two books by Liz Treacher before – The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction and enjoyed them. They were set in the 1920’s and quite comedic. Unravelling is different in that it is set in contemporary times as readers are invited to follow the character Ella’s life as it changes in a space of a week.
I thank Liz Treacher for inviting me to review Unravelling and for sending me a copy with a beautiful personalised message in it.
Read further to find out the blurb, review and about the author and links…
‘The Unravelling combines sinister atmosphere with witty insight, and characters we can relate to facing the supernatural fear of our most human nightmares’ – Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers
‘A cappuccino.’ He spoke clearly but slowly, as if he were a stranger here.
‘One shot or two?’
He gazed at me with thinly veiled contempt. ‘Oh, you only get one shot.’
For Ella Aldridge, a brilliant Classics student, life was supposed to be exciting. Thirty years on, she’s stuck in the suburbs in a boring job and a failing marriage. Even her daughter, the one she gave it all up for, seems distant.
But a sinister encounter on platform three is about to change everything. Under the watchful eye of a shadowy ticket inspector and his mysterious associate, Ella finds herself spiralling into a murky underworld where portentous signs appear from nowhere, thoughts are stored on memory sticks and speeding express trains may be more than they seem. As she begins to lose her grip on reality, Ella embarks on an extraordinary journey that touches everyone around her, forcing her to confront the biggest question of all.
By turns poignant, chilling and tinged with dark humour, The Unravelling is a novel full of heart and beauty, about the myth and magic of everyday life, and the sacrifices we make for what really matters.
A lot can happen in a person’s life between Monday to Friday and it certainly does in Ella’s. She has quite a romanticised view of love and wishes things to be better between her and Derek and for him to essentially be driven wild with jealousy that others could fancy her as well. There is so much more to her than this though, as she travels by train and potentially is being watched, starting at the train station she uses to catch the train. There is a slightly unnerving quality about the writing, within some of the atmosphere that is created, as the week progresses.
Ella’s behaviours come to light as she displays, whether she wants to or not, her insecurities, especially, now her marriage is failing and her job, her life begins to unravel as reality and fantasy start to almost merge. The book has a firm grip on reality, but slowly, Ella is increasingly losing hers and the effects are beginning to manifest themselves both psychologically and physically.
There is an interesting insight into all of the characters within the acutely observant writing as the story goes primarily between Ella, Derek, Brenda and Lily. They are characters that are believable and are easy to care about what is happening in their lives.
About the Author
Liz is a writer and an art photographer and a love of images influences her writing. She is married with two children and lives in the Scottish Highlands by the sea.
Liz was drawn to writing after she discovered a tiny suitcase belonging to her grandmother. It was tied up with gingham ribbon and full of letters sent by two soldiers on their way to the First World War. The cheerful tone of the soldiers and the way their letters seemed to conceal more than they revealed inspired Liz’s first novel, ‘The Wrong Envelope.’ She has since written a sequel, ‘The Wrong Direction’ and a darker, contemporary novel, ‘The Unravelling’.