Published by Orion
Available in ebook & hardback (21 February 2019) | paperback (15 October 2019)
Source: Paperback review copy received from Amazon Vine
My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the blog tour. I have been waiting for so long for a new book from Hannah Beckerman, I loved the Dead Wife’s Handbook which I reviewed here back in 2013 and have been excitedly waiting to read this, ever since it was announced.
About the Book
Hannah Beckerman pens a life-affirming novel that tells the story of a family divided and the secret that can possibly unite them–a must for fans of This Is Us.
Audrey knows that life is filled with ups and downs, but she can’t help feeling like she’s been dealt more than her fair share as she’s watched her family come undone over the years. Her dream as a mother had been for her daughters, Jess and Lily, to be as close as only sisters can be. But now as adults, they no longer speak to each other, and Audrey’s two teenage granddaughters have never met. Even more upsetting is the fact that Audrey has no idea how to fix her family as she wonders if they will ever be whole again.
If only Audrey had known three decades ago that a secret could have the power to split her family in two, but ironically, also keep them linked. And when hostilities threaten to spiral out of control, a devastating choice that was made so many years ago is about to be revealed, testing once and for all Audrey and those she loves.
Is it too late for one broken family to heal and find their way back to each other…?
A beautiful novel of mothers and daughters, the bonds of family, and the secrets that can sometimes divide us yet also bring us together, If Only I Could Tell You will remain on your mind long after the last page is turned.
How can a family estrangement last for nearly 30 years. Audrey would like to know the answer. Her two daughters have been estranged ever since 10 year old Jess stopped speaking to elder sister Lily; even their own children have never been allowed to get to know each other. Now Audrey has her own battle to face and her dearest wish is for her family to come together again. The problem is that because she doesn’t know what caused the divide, she doesn’t know how to fix it.
Told from the perspectives of Audrey, Jess and Lily, the story switches back and forth from the present to significant years in each of their lives. There is much in the way of secrets, sadness, resentments and unfulfilled dreams – all of which gradually come to light.
Reading If Only was a fully immersive experience. I adore Hannah Beckerman’s writing. She writes beautifully with each sentence being carefully constructed and so emotionally charged. Each character was superbly drawn from single mother Jess trying to juggle a time-demanding job with family responsibilities; with career focussed Lily who never seems to have time for anyone. Their typically strong-willed and outspoken teenage daughters, Mia and Phoebe who are far more perceptive than their families give them credit for and finally Audrey who has regrets and sadness of her own.
Many reviewers have said that this book made them cry. I’m quite often a real softie when it comes to emotional books and in all honesty I had expected to need tissues here, but surprisingly this book didn’t make me cry. Having said that, it is a very emotional and moving read but I think I was so frustrated and at times angry with one particular character that I was beyond tears – if there had been tears from me, they would have been ones of frustration.
Being an only child, (something which I am sometimes thankful for!) the world of sibling relationships is rather alien to me. However I guess that like any family relationship, just because you’re related you don’t necessarily have to like each other and If Only shows how long festered thoughts and secrets can potentially destroy a family.
If Only I Could Tell You was a powerful and emotional read with a broken family at its heart but there was also a message of hope. I loved it and I know that this will be one of my favourite books of the year.
About the Author
Hannah Beckerman is an author, journalist and broadcaster. She is a regular contributor to The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, and The Sunday Express, and was the book critic on Sara Cox’s Radio 2 Show. She chairs literary events around the UK and has been a judge on numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Hannah was a TV Executive who spent fifteen years producing and commissioning documentaries about the Arts, History and Science for the BBC, Channel 4 and Discovery USA before turning her hand to writing.
Hannah lives in London with her husband and their daughter.