I read this in two long bursts – one of which started at 3am. It’s a book I couldn’t put down because all I wanted was these two people back together. The harsh realities of grief and lifelong family rifts are well drawn by the author and completely believable. All of these people are trying to move forward despite their lives missing a beat one day on a country road, where a split second decision has lifelong consequences. This book explores grief, loss, loyalty, loneliness and the eventual incredible ability the human heart has to heal.
Sarah has a 7 day whirlwind romance with Eddie. They meet by chance on a country road while Sarah is visiting her parents. She thinks Eddie just might be the one. But, Eddie goes away on holiday and she never hears from him again. Is Eddie a heartless playboy who never intended to call? Did Sarah do something wrong? Or has something terrible happened to him? Instead of listening to friends and writing this off as a one night stand, Sarah begins to obsess and is determined to find the answer. Every clue she has comes to a dead end and she is in danger of completely losing her dignity. As her time back home in the UK starts to run out, Sarah looks for clues to track Eddie down. What she hears is confusing her further. His friend doesn’t give the simple answer, that Eddie has moved on, but gives her a warning; if she knows what’s best for her, she needs to stop looking for Eddie.
Walsh has successfully intertwined a love story with a mystery. I veered between wondering if Sarah was becoming irrational and willing her to succeed. Interspersed with the narrative are beautiful letters of love and loss addressed to the writer’s sister, affectionately nicknamed ‘Hedgehog’. The letter writer’s sister died when they were young, but we don’t know what happened or who the letter writer is. If Sarah is the author of the letters does this loss have something to do with the warning she’s been given? Is her sister the key – not just to Eddie’s disappearance, but to why Eddie was on that particular stretch of road on that day?
I quickly became invested in Sarah and Eddie’s story. I think we’ve all been subjected to the watched phone that never rings and how crazy it can make us. It could have made me dislike Eddie early on, but for some reason I never did. I’m definitely a hopeless romantic so I seemed to accept Sarah’s hope that this could still work out. The other characters in the novel are also well-written and compelling. I’m a therapist so I was particularly interested in Eddie’s mother and her mental ill health. I think her symptoms and the way she manipulated Eddie showed a streak of narcissism. She finds it impossible to see this situation from his point of view, only how it might her. Anything that threatens their dynamic as carer and patient is a huge threat to her and she responds with emotional blackmail and hostility. Eddie is as much a prisoner of her mental ill health as she is. I also had empathy for Sarah’s friend Jenny who is struggling to conceive and undergoes IVF treatment to the point of financial ruin. Her character probably leapt out at me because I’m also not able to have children, and know how difficult it can be to come to terms with. Her stoicism and determination to support her friend in the face of her own loss is very moving.
I stayed up until 2am to finish the book, because I had everything crossed that the mystery would be explained and these two people could move forward together. To different degrees, all the novels characters are imprisoned by the past and losses they can’t accept. My husband died when he was 42 and I was 35. It’s like a chasm opened up and I had to choose between staying on one side forever, with the past and my feelings of loss and fear. Or I could choose to jump over that chasm into a new future. I never forget what happened or the love I have for Jerzy, but twelve years later I have a wonderful partner and two beautiful stepdaughters. Thankfully, I had the bravery to move forward knowing I can’t lose my memories of the past, but I still have a future full of possibilities I never imagined. That’s what the characters in the novel are trying to do. Grief is different for everyone and there are always tensions between those who are trying to heal and those who can’t imagine healing because it feels like a betrayal. Rosie Walsh draws these different threads together beautifully, creating a bittersweet novel that captures the incredible ability the human heart has to heal.
Meet the Author
Rosie Walsh is the internationally bestselling author of two novels, the global smash hit THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL, and – new for 2022 – THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, a heart-wrenching, keep-you-up-all-night emotional thriller, which was an instant New York Times bestseller and stayed in the German top ten for several weeks.
Rosie Walsh lives on a medieval farm in Devon, UK, with her partner and two young children, after years living and travelling all over the world as a documentary producer and writer.
The Man Who Didn’t Call (UK) / Ghosted (US) was her first book under her own name, and was published around the world in 2018, going on to be a multimillion bestseller.
Prior to writing under her own name she wrote four romantic comedies under the pseudonym Lucy Robinson. When she isn’t parenting or writing, Rosie can be found walking on Dartmoor, growing vegetables and throwing raves for adults and children in leaking barns.
Author photos © Anna Pumer Photography / Verity Rivers
Rosie’s new novel The Love of my Life is another heartbreaking romance, mixed with an addictive mystery you’ll be begging for one more chapter.
I have held you every night for ten years and I didn’t even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house.
Who are you?
Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie. And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer and Emma is a well-known marine biologist, so, when she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – reading and writing about her life. But as he starts to unravel her past, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name is fictitious.
When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past life finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . . But first, she must tell him about the love of her other life.
Available now in hardback and on Kindle, but due out in paperback in July 2023.
4 thoughts on “Romance Rocks: The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh”
Have your read The Love of My Life? It’s excellent.
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Yes, I really enjoyed that one too! Xx
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this book kind of reminds me of “The Impossible Us.” The stories aren’t the same, at all, but the romance/mystery aspect feels close enough to me that if you like one, you’ll likely enjoy the other. I want to check this book out, because I love the mystery aspect, even though I don’t read much romance. If you check out The Impossible Us, please let me know!
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Thanks for the tip, I’ll give it a try xx