Untying the Knot - Reviews
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An excerpt from a review by Sue Magee of The Bookbag:
"...If you're thinking that this is chick-lit, think again. Yes, there's a romance in there, but it's about how people cope when the situation they're in is intolerable, about what it's like to live with the knowledge that death - or the death of the person who is your life - is around the corner. Tragedy can happen to anyone, but there are some people who live permanently at the front of the queue. It's about the fact that there's an aftermath to all this - for the people we expect to keep us safe and their families. I found myself thinking about things which I'd never really considered before."
A 5-star Amazon UK review by Gillian Philip, author of the Rebel Angels YA series:
"It's impossible not to ache for the hero and heroine in this stunning novel. In a classic can't-live-with-him-can't-live-without-him situation - but with a heartrending extra dimension in Magnus's PTSD - Fay and Magnus have been the saving of each other, literally and metaphorically, yet life together seems impossible. Fay has divorced Magnus, unable to cope with the very thing that has restored his sanity after being invalided out of the army: Tullibardine Tower, a ruin he has devoted all his energy to restoring.
Magnus is a magnificent hero: courageous, troubled, vulnerable and impulsive (all my favourites). His struggles with PTSD - the nightmares, the flashbacks, the hallucinations and the paranoia - only serve to make him more humanly heroic. Fay is gutsy, intelligent, and no pushover: I loved her preparations for the trauma that is Magnus's engagement party to another woman. And she has a terrific sense of humour: there is one passage, told in the first person by Fay, that made me genuinely laugh out loud. There was nothing I wanted more than to see these two damaged people back together; yet I didn't see how it was possible.
Linda Gillard does not shy away from difficult subjects, and Magnus does something to Fay that makes the reader reel; yet for all his faults, I never once stopped liking him. The denouement is absolutely gripping."
An excerpt from a review on web designer Bill Marshall's blog, ENIGMA VARIATIONS:
"The scene for much of the important action is a once ruined Scottish tower house which Magnus has rebuilt, and as events unfold and we get sections of past storyline - something that the author handles seamlessly and better than any other I've read - we gradually see her talent in using the house's symbolism, connecting interwoven plotlines through it, and connecting it to the past events which have shaped the characters' lives and brought them to where they are.
As is the case with all of her books, this one has a couple of unexpected twists which serve to absorb the reader ever more deeply in the story and to shed much more light on the characters than could have been done by any form of exposition. We come to understand them and appreciate the reasons for their mistakes even as we pray that they won't make them. We feel their yearnings, we cry with them when things look black and impossible, and we feel the shiver running down our spine when the tension becomes unbearable. (You'll know what I mean when you read it!)"
A review by author Tahlia Newland blogging at Awesome Indies
"UNTYING THE KNOT is another deeply moving and skilfully executed novel by Linda Gillard. I am totally in awe of this author. Once again, she had me committed to her characters and caught up in their lives from the first few pages, then weeping for joy at the end.
Essentially, this novel is about the hidden cost of war. During a war soldiers are in the public eye and in our thoughts, but afterwards, most of us think no more about those who returned and if we do, we probably consider them the lucky ones. This book rouses your empathy for those men who fought and returned, wounded not only in body, but also in spirit. Doctors can put their bodies back together relatively easily these days, but the psychological scars can continue for the rest of the men's lives. More soldiers committed suicide after the Falklands war than died during it, and Magnus, the psychologically damaged war hero in this story, has considered it. The scene where he tells his estranged wife, Fay, why he decided against suicide is one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read.
Being an army wife, facing long periods without your husband and never knowing if he will come back is hard enough, but Magnus's post-traumatic stress disorder has had devastating effects on his family, leading to his wife's breakdown and their divorce. The story is set around the events leading up to, during and directly after a party in honour of the estranged couple's daughter's engagement. The background events are revealed in flashbacks and memories as the present day story unfolds, and the further we get into the story, the deeper and more powerful the recollections of the past become. Near the end, through Gillard's skilful writing, we experience Magnus's torment as if we were him. My desire to take this damaged man and care for him became incredibly strong, yet all romantic notions of love conquering all were cut through with the starkly illuminated reality of the stresses of life as a carer of someone with his condition.
Sometimes, as Fay says, love just isn't enough. However, there is something incredibly inspiring about a love that doesn't die despite all the odds, and a man that is stubborn enough to never give it up, even when it has apparently long since flown. Magnus is that man, and no matter how close to madness he is, he is always the hero. His nobility shines through his actions and most particularly in the exquisite words of the letter to Fay, that he carried close to his heart in a waterproof bag at all times, a letter that was to be delivered to her on the occasion of his death. The scene where he reads it to her is another piece of incredibly moving writing.
Books that we call literature - and without a doubt, this book deserves that label - apart from being beautifully written, illuminate our lives in some way, and this one made me realise that love is sometimes right there in front of us, solid and dependable, but hidden beneath our belief that it's gone. All we have to do is look without the baggage that caused us to believe it gone in the first place.
Everyone should read this book."
This review and personal account by Jan Marlowe of her involvement with the writing of UNTYING THE KNOT first appeared on her textiles blog, Isisjem - The Creative Life & Times.
I first got to know of Linda's work through Bookcrossing.com. When I was making my hexagon charm quilt Linda, a fellow quilter, was kind enough to send me some fabric from her stash to include.
A chance comment on Linda's Facebook page resulted in her offering to email me the draft text of UTK for me to read. I confess if any other author had offered me a novel of theirs, which I would have had to read via my old lap top, I may have been reluctant. Spending so much time at work in front of a computer did little to endear me to reading for pleasure on a screen. However, I'd found all of Linda's previous books hard to put down and having read the opening few lines already, I knew this was too good an opportunity to pass up. In fact had she offered to have sent me this story written in crayon on rolls of Andrex I'd have said YES PLEASE!
I still remember when the novel arrived in my inbox. I thought I'd just read a bit, however once I'd started I couldn't stop... You see, UNTYING THE KNOT spoke to me on so many levels. The story centres around the relationship between Fay, who makes art quilts and Magnus the war hero husband she's divorced. Their relationship, like so many Military relationships has broken down after years of Magnus suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and channelling his energies into restoring a ruined 16th century Tower House in the wild, but beautiful Scottish Countryside, became the final straw for Fay.
When their daughter Emily announces she's marrying, it becomes clear to Fay why this is an unsuitable match. Magnus too is getting remarried, forcing Fay to confront her history with Magnus and her feelings, before she can fully move into the future...
It's hard for me to tell you more about this novel as I don't want to give too much away. In this story you will find romance, psychological drama, laugh-out-loud moments and characters you feel you've known always and care about; all set in an evocative and at times haunting Scottish backdrop.
P.S. You know how you often open up a book and see Thank Yous to people from the author? You probably wonder who they are and what they contributed? Well, I get a thank you in this book! I now have my name in print!!! It's probably the nearest I will ever get to being 'published'! All because the story of a quilter and her soldier love spoke to me...