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WHITE LIES ISBN 9781536 806847
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‘A beautifully written, sensitive, yet amusing, and intriguing, tale around a subject that is rarely covered in literature. A delight to read.’ Amazon customer October 2016

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‘I enjoyed A Home from Home, and admired Susan Barrett’s imaginative verve and technical skill. The idiosyncratic setting of the care home is very convincing, and sheer multiplicity of the well-characterised staff and inmates is impressive. So are their complex interrelationships and their often surprising and far-reaching backgrounds. She brings off one of the best things that a novelist can do – the creation of a world – and writes about it both vividly and elegantly.’
Michael Frayn, October 2016

A Home from Home by Susan Barrett

ALIVE IN WORLD WAR TWO, The Cousins’ Chronicle, commentary and memoir
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Reviewed by Marcus Campbell

” The Saying Itself – Social History with psychological depth and charm

Selected passages from the letters of an extended family scattered throughout provincial England, and its colonies, create a fascinating collage that brings the lives of middle-class ‘people like us’ startlingly close. This is social history in the weft and warp. Beneath the family chatter we can clearly detect the forces of national pride, religion – or lack of it – political awareness, humour and stoic endurance, all in homeopathic doses. The book therefore becomes ‘social psychology’ as well as ‘social history’. The collection of partial viewpoints faintly coheres, as with a ‘join-the-dots’ image, into a broader picture. Its very faintness is the hallmark of its reality. As the War grinds on, the letters become starker, more fragmentary. Some of the writers redouble their efforts to be communicative. This is, and feels like, pleasure plus duty. There is a driving force, a bond, but what exactly? And why? We never really know. And nor, clearly, do the writers. What they say is not important, or even unimportant: it is the saying itself that seems to matter.

This faint quaint ‘mattering’ Susan Barrett has discovered and presented. She links the letters with passages of explanation and context that are apt, graceful and unobtrusive. It has obviously been a labour of love. Her Family Record is by no means dry. It has the charm and wonder of inscriptions in an old cemetery. Vivid, intimate, exact – and strangely topical, since they spring from days not unlike our own, of unprecedented stress – they touch the heart.”