All The Books I Can Read

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The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D, by Nichole Bernier Read-a-long Discussion Part 3

on August 29, 2012

Hello everyone and welcome to our final discussion! Over the last week we all read the final one third of the book and had everything revealed! But before we talk about that, I’d just like to recap a few of the things that happened. As always, this post will contain ***SPOILERS*** so please make sure you’ve completed the book before reading ahead!

Dave Martin and his kids came to visit Kate and her children on the island whilst Chris was in Asia. Kate is quite surprised when she sees Dave but also recognises the easy way in which he seems to be dealing with his three children. They talk and Dave seems relieved when Kate mentions that Chris is in Jakarta. Anyone who has been following the timeline of the book could probably figure out why Dave is relieved as we all have the benefit of hindsight. Kate it seems, for someone that always watched the news and panicked about things, is basically totally unaware that not only is her husband now in Bali but that the Bali bombings occurred where he was. To be honest I was surprised Kate didn’t panic more about this when she gets Chris’s voicemail message! Dave asks to have a shower before he leaves and insists on using the one inside…. after he’s gone, Kate discovers a journal is missing, the next one she should be starting, the one that should contain any truth about Michael. Did you think at this point in the story that Dave had stolen the journal?

Kate once again faces the challenge of whether or not she wants to take a job at a new restaurant opening up. There’s a part of her that really does, but she knows that she could easily be consumed by it and it would probably lead to her children, or her relationship with them, suffering because of it. I found the section where she questions Anthony, the friend that has put her name forward, about whether or not it could be a shared or part time position quite interesting. His response is condescending and sarcastic, seemingly derogatory about the fact that she might “get all mommy track” on him. I found that the conversation infuriated me, perhaps because I  have children and I feel for Kate’s need to consider her options. She doesn’t want full-time carers for her children and neither does her husband, especially given as he travels widely. But there’s also that need to satisfy an urge within herself!

Did anyone have any thoughts on who the mysterious Nadia was, before her identity was revealed?

Kate’s obsession (I’m not sure what other term to use here, it does seem to be an obsession) leads her to ring Dave and accuse him of stealing the missing diary – do you feel that as Elizabeth’s husband, Dave would’ve had a right to take the diary if he had so wanted? Do you understand Kate’s annoyance/fury at it or do you think she overreacted? It began to cause problems with her own husband as well as Chris fought irritation over her constant talk of the diaries, her agonising over the diaries, the to-and-fro of the diaries and what she should do with them? Do you feel that even though Elizabeth left them to her and the choice of what to do with them, that Kate was a bit…militant about it? It was almost like she banned Dave from them.

Kate then takes it upon herself to attempt to track down the mysterious Michael, given one of the diaries is missing, one that she believes is key. Do you feel you would’ve done the same thing in her position? Or would you have let it go, laid her to rest? To be honest, I’m not sure I’d have gone to the lengths that Kate did, even though in the end it got her the answers she so desired. She finds a brochure for the Joshua Tree in the trunk, almost hidden. Given the fact that Elizabeth took with her the diary that seems to contain secret information is the fact that she left a business card of where she was going (when she’d in fact told people that she was going to something else entirely) a little too…careless?

Now Kate knows who Michael is and he also inadvertently lets her know that Elizabeth had received a terminal diagnosis, probably in the very dark days after Emily’s birth where the relevant diary has gone missing. Kate realises now that Dave most likely didn’t steal the book and that Elizabeth probably did have it with her on the plane, taking it with her to the healing place. Did anyone pick this? Was it foreshadowed for you?

After they leave the island, Kate makes the decision to return the journals to Dave and also tell him of what she has discovered only to find out that Dave has actually figured it out, finding some bills in amongst the OB ones (I’m assuming that Elizabeth had ovarian cancer or something similar?) Kate realises that Elizabeth’s unkempt appearance was not just to do with Anna’s birth, but also her illness and that no one seemed to have picked up on it. Dave was surprised that Kate didn’t know and that helped me understand some of his anger towards her earlier on in the book – he obviously assumed that Elizabeth had told Kate and even after her death, Kate had been keeping something like that from him. It also seems that Dave knows why Elizabeth didn’t tell him, alluding to the time he ran from her, years before. He seems sad that after all their years together, she didn’t know better but I have to admit, I would’ve found it hard to tell him too, had I been Elizabeth. The chance of running would’ve been too great a risk to take with so little time left. However Dave didn’t know that Michael was to do with her illness so that knowledge is a gift Kate could give him. They then part on relatively good terms – do you think they ever see each other again?

How did you feel about the book overall? Was the ending satisfying to you? Or were there things you wanted to know that you didn’t get told?

Thanks to everyone who took part in this round, I’ve enjoyed both the book and constructing these posts and reading everyone’s thoughts immensely! I’d also like to thank Kelly and everyone at A&U for giving us all the opportunity to read and discuss some of their fabulous books!


39 responses to “The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D, by Nichole Bernier Read-a-long Discussion Part 3

  1. I enjoyed the mystery in finding out who Michael, though I have to say from early on it was obvious it would not be an affair. The Nadia character took me by surprise, but as we crept closer to the end , the puzzles fell together.
    I found the writing slightly bland for me. Kate and in fact most of the cast were only there as a backdrop to the journals only be used sparingly to fill necessary poly holes (IMHO).
    The Dave and Kate resolution did not work well for me. I thought Dave might be a little more forgiving and supportive of what Kate had to do. Instead, he remained rather brusque towards Kate, which I felt was unfair on Kate.
    All in all though, a much better read than our last couple of efforts. So far, my favourite!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this one more than the previous few we’ve read together Stephen! Maybe we should choose another book for September, you might end up really liking that one!

    • TheNakedScribe says:

      I agree with Stephen. Although it was satisfying to my (pathetically) eternally-hopeful self that there would be ‘nice’ solutions to who everyone was and what would make someone like Elizabeth, who was so devoted to her family, cheat on her husband and run from him, perhaps contemplate running from her children and her current life, that the writing is a bit bland. (Sorry for such a long sentence here!). I found the foreshadowing of possibly ominous issues ahead prodded my curiosity, but at the same time was too obvious, and like Stephen I found the characters just a way of explaining the contents of the journals to the reader.
      However, it was a pleasantly easy read, but a little too ‘women’s literature’ for me. I prefer action and fantasy as I like escapism from the daily life of people and their baggage. I’ll keep trying though, thanks for this one A&U, and thanks to Bree for hosting. I’ve loved reading everyone’s comments.

      • TheNakedScribe says:

        Er, I’m not certain what I’ve written in that long sentence is clear – I was glad to find that Elizabeth was not cheating on Dave, even though it seemed that way at the beginning of the book.

  2. Feistykel says:

    I didn’t see it coming! Well, not at first anyway, I was sure she was having an affair for a while. I was just as sure that Dave took the journal so clearly I was off beat! I admit I thought Nadia was a therapist.
    Kate definitely overreacted with the journals when she thought Dave had taken one, I mean I’d be annoyed but not sure I could be that possessive of them. What did get to me though, was how completely unsupportive Chris was of Kate reading them. Of course she was going to get a bit obsessed while she was reading them, this is her friend who died! I felt like he was a bit of a pain in the arse about it, bit unfair. I liked the ending, I felt like all loose ends were tied up (nothing worse than being left with ‘but what about..’s) and I liked the vibe of the book.

    I really enjoyed it, I read it quickly with few breaks because I was keen to see what would come next, and what mysteries would be resolved in the end.

    • I have to admit, my first read-through (I read the book in one sitting originally) I didn’t really see it coming either. It was only re-reading each section to make notes and write up the discussion posts that I did pick up on a couple of vague things.

      I never particularly warmed to Chris, I felt he was a bit “I want to work and go and travel and one of us should stay home with the kids so that should really be you”. I sort of understood his frustration at Kate reading the journals and obsessing over him but then I remember he was travelling for some part of their vacation and was really only around for part of it, so I wasn’t quite sure what it was about it that bothered him so much.

  3. TroyMartin says:

    Overall? I honestly tried to not like the novel. I did enjoy it, the flashes back into Elizabeth in the end tell us so much more. Bernier has been able to be clever without playing too many literary tricks.

  4. Paula says:

    I also didn’t think that Elizabeth was having an affair with Michael but wasn’t sure what the connection was, so was glad for the surprise. I thought Nadia might have been her therapist.
    I did think that Kate’s reaction to Dave potentially taking the diary was an overreaction but I think Kate’s anger had nothing to do with the diary in a lot of ways and was just a build up of so many emotions to Elizabeth’s death that both Dave and Kate had to air. I also would have been angry but not because of Dave taking the journal but because it was a missing puzzle to so many questions.
    If I had been friends with Elizabeth I would have been upset that she didn’t feel like she could talk to me about so many things when she was alive and I am still curious as to why she was so honest in her diaries but not her everyday life. I still think Elizabeth wrote the diaries later in her life knowing that she was going to leave them to Kate and in some ways she was writing them for her.
    Overall loved the book, found it easy to read but had enough intrigue to keep me interested. Loved the size and packaging of the book and can’t wait to pick up more books like it. Thanks for having us over for a chat Bree. 🙂

    • I think you hit on something there – Kate’s anger coming out because of frustration that part of the puzzle (a crucial part!) was missing. She thought Dave had taken it from her, out of spite or a determination to know the story and it meant that she wouldn’t be able to know.

      I also wonder Elizabeth was far more honest in her diaries than she was in her day to day life – she never told Kate about her work, how much she loved it and how she wanted to still work through motherhood and she never chose to tell Kate that she was sick. That must have been quite a burden to carry basically alone.

      Thank you so much for taking part Paula, I’m so glad you enjoyed the experience and liked the book. I liked the format of the book as well.

  5. I must admit I found this novel a little ‘blah’ – it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t calling my name when I should have been doing other things (work, cooking, tidying up!) – the sure sign of being stuck in a good book is that my house looks like a tip!

    I guessed the ending well in advance and again, it was all a little ‘white-bread’ for me.

    I think my biggest problem with the book was that I didn’t feel I had invested anything in the characters of Kate and Elizabeth. The opportunity was ripe especially when you ponder what your own friends might write about you in a journal but somehow in this book, it didn’t quite pack the punch. The only character I was interested in was Dave – oddly the one that seems most people disliked!

    • I must always be stuck in a good book because my house looks like a tip pretty permanently 😛

      I find it interesting that you were so interested in Dave – do you have any particular reasons why or just the idea of a man raising 3 kids etc, after his wife has died?

      • I felt the reader was gently pushed into making him the bad guy and I kept thinking “How’s a man who has lost his wife, given up the career he loved and looking after three very young children supposed to behave?!”

        I guess my interest in Dave is partly because my biological grandmother (who I never met) died when my dad was five and his sister was seven. In those days, there was no support systems for single dads – my grandfather had to work and as a result had to send the children away to live with his sister in the country. He also had to find a new wife darn quickly! He did remarry (the woman I consider my grandmother, although she passed away two years ago). I look at my own five and seven year olds and think how life would be if one parent was suddenly ripped away from their world. It’s unfathomable.

        So, I guess I have more sympathy for Dave than the author intended!

  6. I totally believed Dave had stolen the journal, although I think Kate carried it a bit far. I had been hoping this final part would be the section for Dave to redeem himself for me, but instead I liked him less. I’m also a little confused that if Elizabeth couldn’t tell Dave about her illness because she didn’t think he would cope, how she could trust someone like that with the full time, life long care of the children. She could not have known of her fate on the plane, but she was obviously fighting something life threatening – was she going to wait until she had a few weeks to live and then drop the bomb?

    I wonder if Elizabeth planted the clues for Kate to find out the truth – which is why ‘she would know what to do’ with the journals and whether she made this provision in case the cancer took her while she was away?

    Overall I enjoyed it as a good light read that I will recommend to others. I think most of the loose ends were tied up in a way I was happy with but I think the missing journal would have contained the most powerful writing of the book, so a little disappointed there wasn’t some fragmented pages found somewhere.

    Thanks for hosting the read-a-long – I have really enjoyed the experience!

    • The first time I read it I was convinced he had too and I was angry at him for some reason and then I sort of thought to myself ‘hang on, this is his WIFE and his thoughts about the last part of their lives together are that she may have been cheating on him. I’d want to steal the diary and find out the damn truth too!’ I found I was a little more sympathetic towards him re-reading this section and had a little less patience with Kate and her attitude towards him on the phone and also in ranting to Chris about it. She said that she didn’t want to be in the middle, but she took the diaries, she was protective of the diaries. She WANTED to know, she thought he’d robbed her of that! Even though he probably had more of a ‘right’ to know what had happened than Kate did.

      I do agree that the missing journal would’ve made for some extremely powerful and emotional times, I really would like to know what it said – I guess I’m just like Kate there!

      Thank you for taking part and sharing your thoughts, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Character-wise, it took a while to engage with the characters. They didn’t seem to have a lot of depth. As I read, I came to know them more – their natures were revealed slowly, and in hindsight, this reflects how we come to know about the people in our lives. We never know someone straight away; also, there are some people we “click” with straight away, and others we appreciate more over time. I don’t know whether that was Bernier’s intention, but the slow character development is a technique that, in this case, makes sense.

    Dave comes across as abrasive, and at times, weak, but I felt for him. He’s dealing with the loss of his wife, bringing up their children, realising that he may not have known his wife as well as he thought he did. That’s a lot to bear and it would leak out; not surprisingly it’s Kate who bears it, because she is going to get answers/insight and all he has is questions. It’s easy to judge Dave based on some of Elizabeth’s journal entries – he’s certainly flawed – but there is a maturity, a quiet, new strength about him by the end. I don’t think Dave will stay in touch – it seems like one of those goodbyes when you say the right things (“let’s have coffee”) but it won’t happen.

    Early on, I felt that Elizabeth wasn’t having an affair. The idea was planted so early, like a red herring, and I was disinclined to believe it. I didn’t pick the illness or who Nadia was, though. Regarding the business card – perhaps it was left behind on purpose, as Joanne suggested. Then again, Elizabeth would not have known she’d die in a plane crash…

    Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It’s can seem light, and yet, there are issues that give it more depth, such as the work-life balance, the big “Who am I” question, and so on.

    Oh, one more thing – I saw Elizabeth as more of a giver, and often when you give too much, you end up holding back YOU. If someone needs you, often you will be there for them, even if you also need someone to be there for you. I think that’s why the diaries were, for her, a lifeline. They were a constant.

  8. At first I did think that Dave had stolen the journal, but when Kate started to question herself, I thought that either she had misplaced it or that perhaps her son had moved it. I also agree that having that journal in the book would have added an extra dimension.

    I was fine with the way things ended between Kate and Dave and like to think that perhaps he would take a trip to Washington to visit her in the future. I did, however, find the end of the novel between Kate and Chris rather unsatisfying. Were they going to stay together? Was Kate going to work at the Catering company? Had Chris been having an affair? All along I found Chris to be very unsupportive, and I liked him less as a character than I did Dave. He didn’t seem to understand why the journals were so important to Kate and seemed to be frustrated every time she mentioned either the journals the fact that she had been offered a couple of jobs.

    Overall I enjoyed the book. I liked Kate’s character, but was frustrated at times by all the other characters to varying degrees. I really enjoyed being a part of my first read-a-long, and hope there will be more in the future.

  9. Susan says:

    Hi all. I feel quite deflated by this book—if not a little frustrated—firstly because there was so much of it I just didn’t believe, and secondly because I of the problems I had with the writing and the plotting.

    Beginning with the writing/plotting: For me, a great novel is one that has been meticulously planned out, with chapters clearly designed, and plots and sub-plots mapped around the general progression of solid linear storyline progression. I felt this book was written on-the-go rather than carefully conceived and executed. The basic story was there, but I feel that some of the major ideas and plot devices were kind of added in afterwards, rather than conceptualised and woven into the narrative. In other words, I felt that some ideas were just slotted in for convenience, and while there is nothing wrong with adding in new ideas after the first draft has been completed, I feel that any idea or scene that affects the story outcome should demand a rewrite of existing material in order to lead up to that idea. Similarly, consequences of that idea/scene should be reflected in later material (where appropriate).

    I’ve already noted that the alliteration drove me crazy, and it is present again in this final third (page 335: “…curtains created crosshatch designs on the whitewashed wood…”), but I also found that the tone of this novel was clunky. Some of the writing was realism-based, while other sequences (eg the interactions with Max) seemed fantasy-based.

    As mentioned in the last discussion thread, Kate’s paranoia seemed unusually selective—freaking out about the bunnies, freezing in fear when a plane flies overhead, keeping emergency supplies in the spare tyre etc, but then reacting coolly to news of the bombing in Indonesia.

    The tension between Dave and Kate was a bit absurd for me. Even though the diaries had been left to Kate, I find it hard to accept that she would have been so precious and protective of them. You can’t really pull rank on someone’s spouse, no matter how close Kate and Elizabeth were as friends. Also, did it never occur to Kate (after she realised that Elizabeth had been keeping secrets from Dave) that perhaps the best thing Dave could do was read the diaries and perhaps understand his wife a little better? I think Kate was too obnoxious here, and her aggression toward Dave unjustified.

    Then there was the strange scene where Kate receives the call from Michael. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine stripping while talking to anybody on the phone (unless I was in a massive rush), let alone someone who held the key to my bestie’s secret. This felt wildly inappropriate, and a little weird.

    One of the things I did like, however, was the passage on page 364 describing Chris’s resentment at all the offers of lasagne and lawn-mowing services. That’s something I, too, have a problem with, and it annoys me that people assume men are a little on the useless side when it comes to raising kids and managing a household. Odd, isn’t it, that we don’t automatically rush to help a woman in the same situation.

    Anyway, I’ve said a lot here and there is probably more I could write but I’m sure that’s plenty from me. I will add that what I mean above when I said I found this book frustrating is that there are some strong, worthwhile elements to this book, but I just don’t think they were set to work properly.

    I have written a full review (which is far more succinct and shorter than what I’ve written here!) on my blog at and I would love to have your feedback and thoughts. I do love being part of these discussions – thanks to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity, and a huge wow-you’re-awesome thanks to Bree for being such an amazing and gracious host.

  10. Lisa M says:

    I loved this book – I didnt really see the ending coming the first time I read it, but after reading it a second time there are a few things you can pick up on. I was sure Dave stole the journal originally – why else would they mention the outdoor and indoor shower! I so wish we could read the last journal

    I wrote about the 3rd part on blog

  11. I really enjoyed this book.

    I was so angry when I was convinced Dave had taken the last journal, and it wasn’t until it was spelled out for me that I realised he hadn’t taken it after all! Like others here I thought Nadia was therapist. Michael’s identity did come as a surprise. Though I had begun to doubt there was an actual affair I wasn’t really sure who he was, and his identity as a healer really surprised me.

    I liked Dave more at the end, he definitely redeemed himself there, and I felt sorry for Kate, as she now mourned not only the friend she had lost, but the one she never knew to begin with, and now would never know. I wondered why Elizabeth hadn’t opened up more, especially in regards to her work. I can see that her choice to return to work was seen with disdain by the other mother’s, but surely when Kate joined in and was working Elizabeth could have felt safe enough to open up to Kate about her desires.

    I was really satisfied at the books ending. I felt the reunion with Dave went well, and that he and Kate parted as friends, and then when Kate got home to find Chris outside smoking I felt that too was a sign of a more open, honest relationship, one that was stronger because of it.

    I’ve blogged about it on my blog:

  12. Sussan says:

    Like Stephen I am always keen to get pushed outside my comfort zone so even though I couldn’t really identify with the characters in this book, I wanted very much to give it a go, but much like Susan, I found myself not being able to believe in the story. I thought the writing was quite good, but the characters were just too wealthy and white for me. And I really felt that the whole way through – these are white people problems. I don’t mean that offensively, but it was something that kept creeping up in my mind as I was reading it.

    The trivia Elizabeth notes about family dinners and ordering take out just didn’t appeal to me. I recently started reading a book called ‘Tuesday’s Child’ by Kathy Evans which details a woman’s experiences giving birth to a child who suffers from Down Syndrome and I found myself truly captivated by it. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the subject matter because I myself am thirty, single, and childless but every detail in that book held me completely engaged. I didn’t feel the same way with this book, because I just couldn’t believe. I’m glad to see that most readers here truly enjoyed the book and perhaps some time in the future, I will return to this book and feel differently about.

    Thank you to Bree for hosting such a great read-along and offering detailed and engaged posts. I am enjoying reading your other blog posts too. Thanks to Kelly Morton and Allen and Unwin for allowing me to be a part of this project.

  13. Tien says:

    Wow, Bree, you seem to have a ton more questions this week!

    I may have mentioned that took a little peek at the ending in week 1? So, whilst I wasn’t unprepared for it, I also didn’t quite have the full picture. Still, whilst it was an acceptable ending, I felt that it wasn’t quite fulfilling.

    I was actually kinda turned off when Kate went all pissy at Dave – I’m totally on Chris’ side in my not-understanding her obsession over the journals. Then again, I’m just a passenger here (like Chris), I don’t feel like I have interest invested in these journals or at least not as much as Kate seems to have.

    I have enjoyed the read-along though & it was a pretty easy & relaxing read so thanks!

  14. I thought the same as Paula – that Nadia was a counsellor. I was annoyed that I didn’t guess Elizabeth’s illness – there were so many clues and I missed them all!

    It took me some time to warm to the characters, but I really liked Kate in the end. I didn’t mind Chris’s character – his distance seemed to feel right so that Kate could figure out her feelings herself.The ending was satisfying for me (as it fit in with the nature of the book) but I would have liked a few more definite answers. More thoughts and a ranty bit on my blog about Elizabeth’s decision.

    Thanks Bree, Kelly and Allen and Unwin for the readalong. It’s been really fun!

  15. I actually thought the moment he said he wanted to shower in the house that it was his intention to take the journal… a little suspicious maybe?!

    I also was angered by Anthony’s comment when Kate was considering her work options, I had never considered how flexible (or not) that industry would be for mothers.

    I felt sorry for Dave when Kate yelled at him, she had become possessive over the journals, and I agree with you Bree it was driven by her obsession- the desire to find the truth, to find out how the story ends. I can’t really blame her though; I have lost count of the number of books I have plummeted through, turning pages so quickly to find out what happens next. Imagine if that story was someone who you really cared about, your best friend?!

    Relief is the only way to describe how I felt when Michael’s identity and his connection with Elizabeth were revealed. I thought, YAY, Elizabeth wasn’t cheating on her husband! But the truth was quite shocking; I hadn’t really considered that she was physically unwell. At first I thought she was going to the retreat for depression. It was sad that Elizabeth kept this to but I could understand why, given her and Dave’s history. She was terrified of being abandoned in her time of need.

    Overall, I enjoyed the book and I was satisfied with the ending. Thanks for hosting the read-a-long Bree!

  16. Tracey says:

    I enjoyed the book, and especially the read-along experience. Thanks go out again to Bree and Allen & Unwin for making it all possible. I didn’t predict the ending at all, but I also wasn’t trying too hard to guess the reason for Elizabeth’s trip.

    I enjoyed the topic of identity, revealed through Elizabeth’s journal and her own self exploration and then Kate’s reflection on the topic, her friend and her own perception of self as pastry chef and mother.

    I agree with many of the previous bloggers above that it would have been interesting to read entries from the missing journal however I enjoyed the fact that Kate, Elizabeth’s family and we the reader were never privy to Elizabeth’s final thoughts in the weeks and days leading up to her death. It gives us something to imagine and wonder about.

    However I must admit that for some reason the novel has made me think about my own mortality for the entire duration of the read-along, which has been quite morbid and I’ll be glad to move on to another topic.

  17. I absolutely loved this book. There were a few bits that I found a little dull and too descriptive – more like a fill in until the good bit comes back but it did help put the scene in perspective.
    I had guessed that Nadia was a doctor of some description but it was good to find out who Michael was.

    I found that throughout the book my opinion changed of the male characters. Chris could sometimes come across as loving but than other times I thought you are a bastard. You have a life where you trave, check in with your wife when you feel like it, lie to her (about smoking) and make her feel like she has to stay home to look after the kids.
    Than there is Dave – the poor widow, he is greaving and sad and confused so you feel sorry for him but then he treats people so rudely – mind you when Kate went off at him accusing him of stealing the journal she went way over board.

    I honestly thought at some point towards the end that there would have been something happen between Dave and Kate as they were both grieving and not handling it very well. I also was a little disspointed in the reconciliation of Chris and Kate; no arguement, no discussion about how any of them really feel. It was a very strange marriage in my opinion.

    Over all I loved the book, the story, the characters!
    The writer did a great job 🙂

  18. ScarlettHeartt says:

    I liked the premise of the book but wasn’t rapt with the execution. I didn’t find any of the main characters likeable at all. I found Dave somewhat threatening, Kate to be bland and wishy washy. Chris was a pain in the backside and Elizabeth seemed holier than thou even with the revelations from the journals. The whole storyline smacked of privilege and it was all very white, upper middle class and unfortunately, bland.

  19. […] the last few weeks I have participated in a read-along hosted by Bree at All the Books I Can Read (with many thanks to Allen & Unwin).  The book that we were all reading was The Unfinished […]

  20. In many ways what I appreciated most about the book is the untidiness of the storyline, the questions left unanswered and the results which I found unsettling, wrong or not ideal. I found myself wanting to know more about different areas which were only hinted at (was Elizabeth terminally ill with cancer? What was the retreat really for?) or left dangling (the health of Kate’s marriage, the tension with Dave at the end of the novel).

    Most novels have everything wrapped up neatly by the end, with positive endings or palatable results, but this one didn’t, which I think reflects the messy, complicated and misunderstood flow of our own lives. It certainly gave me themes and topics to think about, and there were phrases and turns of phrase which were elegant and expressive, which added to the complexity of what would normally be just “another book”.

    Thanks for hosting the read-along, and thanks to A&U for the opportunity!

  21. Hi there 🙂 I’ve finally had a chance to put my review together of ‘Unfinished Journals…’ and I thought you might like to take a look…

  22. […] see the wrap-up of the discussion, visit here. For my review, visit here. Don’t forget, I do have a copy to give away – you can be in […]

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