Here Without You: The Lost Wife by Anna Mansell @bookouture @AnnaMansell #blogtour

Today on Chocolate’n’Waffles, no blood or serial killers. Today a precious story gets reviewed, and this little post is my thank you to Bookouture for inviting me to take part in this blog tour!

Title: The Lost Wife
Author: Anna Mansell
Publisher: Bookouture
Date of publication: July 28th 2017
Format: Digital Review Copy
Source: NetGalley
Number of pages: 307
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

How do you live without the one you love?

Since Rachel lost her mother she has drifted through life, never settling down. Then she meets Ed, recently widowed and with a new baby, and is compelled to help him and his son.

Ed is struggling to cope, and his friends and family all tiptoe around his grief. Rachel is the only one who sees him as more than just a widower, and the pair soon grow close.

Then Rachel discovers something Ed’s wife was hiding from him – something that changes everything. But she knows that memories of lost loved ones are precious, and should be protected at all costs…

Can Rachel help Ed learn to live in a world where his wife is no longer around to tell her side of the story? And can Ed help Rachel to finally open her heart to a happy future?

Since You’ve Been Gone is a compelling and poignant story about love, loss, and family secrets, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Dani Atkins, and Kelly Rimmer.

All stories are made of words. We all react differently to them. They can be cold, they can make you smile, they can give you goosebumps. The Lost Wife isn’t about words. The Lost Wife is about feelings. My eyes slid on the letters but it was my heart that reached out to the book, to the characters, to the message behind the story.

Grief is a subject I used to avoid. I couldn’t bear to think about the sadness and the pain. I still hate it, and being over-sensitive makes me feel any emotion ten times stronger than others. But sometimes it is good to be reminded it is part of the giant “life” game we play. I chose to read The Lost Wife knowing it was dealing with losing close relatives, and with coping. I was expecting tears and tissues. Heartbreaking scenes. Then I remembered the wall I created around myself did not allow those feelings to get to me so I would be fine. Remember the monster who wasn’t moved by Me Before You? Haha. I’d never been so naive.

Anna Mansell stared at my protective wall, laughed, took a bulldozer, and smashed it hard!

I knew from the opening I was in trouble. Ed talking about his wife, and those conversations we don’t want to have. Weirdly, I often wonder if someone will know which song I want for my funeral, or how I want to be dressed. Does someone know me enough, has paid attention enough, to remember? Ed’s narration was spot-on. And I don’t mean just at the beginning. I mean through the entire book. This man is lost, in love, widowed, angry, devastated. I wanted to hug him tight and tell him it would be alright. I thanked the author for reminding that passion and love were still around in this world and that there were still people ready to love someone with every fiber of their being. Because more than Ed’s grief, I felt Ed’s love for his departed wife. I could see the hole in his heart and I wanted to fill it, to put tape on it with old and new memories, and … And I have a thing for widowers! Is there a name for this? A support group?? Because I fell hard for the same kind of father in A Suitable Lie. Wow. I could be in one of those reality TV shows where women talk about this. “Hi, I’m Meggy, I have the Widower-in-Need syndrome.” But it only works because Anna Mansell created a flawed and drowning man without romanticizing his married life too much. It all felt real. The breakfast in bed, the discussions on the couch, the sleeping on the other’s shoulder, the reassuring scent around the house. The bickering, the arguments, the making up. Learning to know about his wife through his eyes was beautifully painful. How do you live when the woman you promised to cherish until death is gone? What is the meaning of everything when your world has come crashing down?

I do believe that even if everyone (except sociopaths) can empathize and support, only those who have been through a similar experience really understand what grieving means. I am not saying it is the same for everyone. We are not programmed robots, our coping mechanisms can be different, but there’s a silent understanding. A “been there” bound that help alleviate the idea you are alone. Anna Mansell captured this unspoken phenomenon and explored it until it made sense.

This is where Rachel comes into the picture.

Losing her mother so young, she had to deal with life minus one, thankfully helped by a wonderful father who won my heart with his endless love for his children. Twenty-seven and yet, still far from having grown up. Rachel was static, frozen in a life she had settled in because jumping outside of her comfort zone was too frightening and she felt she did not have the strength to make it.

Two people broken by an unfair loss and a baby in the middle.

This story isn’t a soppy maudlin tale of how you can mend someone. The Lost Wife is about the stages of grief, about how letting someone in, someone you don’t know, can be exactly what you need. This book is about facing your grief, dealing, not being okay and being alright.

My heart was filled with pain for a little boy that would have to live without a mother, for a husband left on his own, for a young and lost woman. But my heart was also tickling with moments of stolen happiness at a tiny face smiling, the warmth and vital presence of a best friend, the sun in the sky at times. I was absorbed in the author’s portray of life and the characters’ guilt at living, feeling, breathing, having to move on. Because what does moving on means? How do you move on without leaving your best behind? The dilemma was genuinely and smoothly written, and I can only thank the author for picking the right words to make me go through this with Ed and Rachel.

Of course, while the shadow of grief is always around, there is joy, too. Anger. Harsh words. Doubts. Ed’s wife’s accident is shady, and this element is the thread that leads every character along the line of this new life. I thought the plot blended with perfection and added a clever and disturbing layer to the story, making every emotion twice as difficult to feel, to handle, to go through without a scratch.

Rachel’s narration resonated with me with such force I was taken aback. I live with my mother while she has lost hers, but I could relate to so many of her questions, to her need to help to fill the void and find a use to this tragedy she has lived, to find a meaning to her pain, and to find her place in the world.

I am very very … Very hard to please when it comes to endings. I won’t reveal anything, but I put down the book thinking “This is it. This was perfect.” Emotional doesn’t even begin to describe this story. Life. Yes, this is the right word for it. The Lost Wife is an exceptional and poignant tale of love, genuine and true.

Don’t hesitate, go on Amazon UK, Amazon US or whichever one you use and get this story!

Anna had a brush with fame as a magician’s assistant back in 1977.
She later decided that being sawn in half by her father, at barely 6 months old, was too submissive a role, vowing to channel the trauma in to something much more pro-actively creative. Having failed at acting, singing and professional murder mystery parties (she was ALWAYS the one to die!), she fell to something much more solitary: writing. How To Mend a Broken Heart is her first novel and her life was not on the line in order to write it, or her second: The Lost Wife.
Anna lives on a dairy farm in Cornwall with her two children, her husband, and her ex-racing greyhound, Olive Dog.

Find Anna on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and her WordPress!

Find the other stops on the blog tour and learn more about the story, the characters, and the beautiful piece of work that The Lost Wife is!

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