Without Her

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

This novel is about the long friendship between the two very different women Hannah and Claudia. This friendship began in boarding school, through their teenage years and early student years.  Even as these two women grew apart; Claudia being a film lecturer in  the USA and Hannah, wife and mother. The narrative begins with Hannah’s disappearance and as Claudia rushes to help Hannah’s husband Phil find out more. The memories about the different stages of the friendship surface mixed with a range of emotions; closeness, rivalry, jealousy and meanness. This book will make you think of the meaning of friendship and how far you will  go and if friendship has to be equal in giving and receiving. Unfortunately, one of the friends is a character who is difficult to like. Nevertheless, it is an interesting and stimulating book.
Was this review helpful?
When I received this book, I saw the comparison to Elena Ferrante, I mean how do you even to compare anything to her. I started reading this and was like oh man, the author is trying replicate My Brilliant Friend, however if you can get through the first 25% of the book Brackenbury develops this story into a book that rightfully stands on it’s own. 

The book is narrated by Claudia, she has been life long friends with Hannah. They met in boarding school in England, and while their friendship ebbs and flows they always find their way back to each other. 

Claudia is teaching in Virginia when she receives a distressing call from Hannah’s husband that she is missing and she flys to Avignon to help find her. Like My Brilliant Friend this goes between their their younger years as friends to current times. 

This story does have elements of mystery in there that will definitely keep you reading. When the story is over you heart will be aching. This is a very nuanced story from Brackenbury and I just loved it. I found myself rereading passages. I am looking at reviews and can’t figure out why there is not more press around this book. This should be on the front table of every book store. 

Thank you NetGalley and Delphinium for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book had me so shaken - the friendships, relationships and hatreds that intersect in this novel were truly amazing. I don't want to spoil anything in my review, but I would recommend this for anyone who likes mysteries, travel and learning the inner tickings of lifelong friends just as those meticulously arranged parts begin to grate against each other. So many beautiful and revelatory moments in this book about possession, time and perspective.
Was this review helpful?
Rosalind Brackenbury’s Without Her is a thoughtful and beautifully-written piece of women’s fiction.  Claudia is living in America where she’s approaching retirement from her job as a lecturer in film studies when she learns that her lifelong friend, Hannah, (the Her of the title) has gone missing. Claudia drops everything to fly to the south of France where Hannah’s husband, Philip, is waiting at the family holiday home for Hannah to turn up. 

The story is slender in terms of action but that doesn’t matter. It’s many-layered and thought-provoking, picking up on themes of social obligation, of sacrifice, of control over one’s own life. Claudia is the narrator and as she and Philip wait to see whether Hannah (who has something of a history of disappearing and reappearing) will turn up, she reviews their friendship and their fallouts, the things they did together and the things that kept them apart. 

The writing is terrific. I could feel the heat of the summer sun on the back of my neck and smell the lavender; I could sense Claudia’s emotions and feel the tension as concerns for Hannah’s welfare began to rise. The problem for me, though, was that no matter how well the book was written and constructed I didn’t enjoy it as much as it probably merited. 

The reason? I really, really didn’t warm to any of the characters, with the possible exception of Philip. Hannah was positively dislikable, an attention-seeking diva who put her nearest and dearest through stress and misery in the name of her own self-obsession, and all of those people she hurt seemed to adore her all the more because of it. The end of the book raised questions that I should have been more interested in answering than I was, but when it got to the end I’m afraid I really wasn’t invested enough to care what happened to Hannah. 

It’ a shame, because it’s otherwise an excellent book, highly accomplished. But I’m afraid I really, really wasn’t engaged enough to give it five stars. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Dreamscape Media for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Informed by a desperate phone call that Phil's wife, Hannah has gone missing, Claudia travels from America to France to help find her lifelong friend. Early-on, Claudia acknowledges that "We all have our stories, and sometimes they spill out of us in bits and pieces, and we let ourselves, just for a moment, be seen." As the story unfolds, she, Hannah's family and Alexandre (Claudia's lifelong lover) struggle to establish an explanation for the disappearance and are incapacitated by their confusion. As the search fails to move forward, we learn instead about the years leading up to this point through Claudia's account of their companionship from boarding school onwards. In so-doing we learn far more about Claudia than Hannah.
     And here is where I perhaps struggled to fully understand, because very little of the relationship revealed, describes a friendship that I would want to maintain. At one point Claudia relays a summer spent at Hannah's home; "I knew that already there was a gap between the photograph and the original image; in this gap, an ache opened that I did not know how to fill." But, I felt throughout there was a gap between events and the reported affinity. Hannah comes across as self-absorbed, inward-looking and apathetic towards the feelings of those who care about her the most. Throughout the life described, her actions place her at the front of the orchestra, initiating and influencing the decisions and actions of those around her. Now, in this later stage of their lives, it is no different. Claudia states; "I will lose her. And in losing her, I will lose part of myself" At no point did I get the impression that Hannah would feel the same.
     Brackenbury writes with observational accuracy and creates poignant snapshots I could not help but relate to my own life and relationships. The very fact that I wanted to sit down with Claudia and have the type of conversation I have with my daughter about friendship issues, demonstrates how effectively the author has moulded her characters. Unfortunately, I just did not care for them; rather, I found myself questioning whether, instead of finding Hannah, Claudia was better off 'Without Her'.
Was this review helpful?
I truly enjoyed this book very much   I would recommend this read to all.  Thank you Rosalind Brackenbury for this terrific book.
Was this review helpful?
Without Her puts you right in the pages..   Jam-packed with action and adventure.. 
I was  in suspense the entire time.
Was this review helpful?
What if your best friend suddenly disappeared? There would be shock, disbelief and fear.  But what about when she just as suddenly contacts you and shares staggering news and an unbelievable request?  The college trio Claudia, Hannah, and Alexandra had so many adventures that reminded me of my school days.  This book made me think on so many levels about relationships and the paths we let ourselves travel.  A great dramatic read!
Was this review helpful?
Great read. The author wrote a story that was interesting and moved at a pace that kept me engaged. The characters were easy to invest in.
Was this review helpful?
This is the story of 3 "friends" who come together after decades apart to help one of the friends on her final journey.

I put "friends" in quotes, because they are quite horrible to each other. The premise of the story held more promise than the novel itself. I felt sad and betrayed at the end alongside the protagonist, Claudia. She's much more forgiving than I am.

Recommended for those who want something different in their fiction.
Was this review helpful?
Without Her is a story of relationships over a span of decades. Although the central relationship is between Claudia and Hannah, who meet in an English boarding school, as time passes, their initial connection expands to other people and places. The author develops these relationships as elegantly as a time-lapse series of photos of a flower opening from bud to full bloom.

The story begins with a frantic call from Hannah’s husband to Claudia announcing that Hannah is missing; failed to arrive at their summer house in France. Claudia travels to France and embarks on a search, eventually tracking down Hannah and learning her deep secret and agreeing, after much thought, to do as Hannah asks.

This brief summary can’t be expanded without revealing spoilers. I liked how the story is spun with details from the past and present intermixed so the reader learns every detail, just as we can imagine that flower blooming. While at times extremely sad, this book describes beautifully the bonds of friendship and what people will do in the name of love.

Highly recommended.

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

The story focuses on the life-long relationship between two women. We follow them from the time they met as youngsters until they are in their late 60s. The characters are well drawn. We see how their feelings for each other and reactions to situations change over time. Over the years, their trust in their friendship is tested, but ultimately, they are always there for each other despite very challenging circumstances.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was particular captivated by the raw emotion of the ending.
Was this review helpful?
I chose the book based on its description reminding of Ferrante's Napolitan quartet and i was not disappointed. There are similarities between the two novels, both in terms of plot (the heroines of both novels disappear) and in how the missing heroine is portrayed as fascinating and strong willed. Through flashbacks we find details about the friendship between Claudia and Hannah., dating decades. This is a fascinating read about female friendship that I enjoyed
Was this review helpful?
I was really drawn to this initially due to the lifelong relationship between Claudie and Hannah.  I liked how the book went back into the past to show how their friendship progressed through time while going through the dilemma of Hannah disappearing out of nowhere in her 60's.  This book really tied in well with history in the locations and presented the women as educated and cultured.  Overall, this book was well written and demonstrated lots of emotion and will be relatable to many women.  Thanks for the ARC, Net Galley.
Was this review helpful?
Without Her was a very well with book about two longtime friend that met in boarding school years before. Claudia hears from Hannah's husband that she's missing. Claudia, who lives in America, flies to Europe to help locate Hannah.

The book is filled with flashbacks to their shared past and present day. It's a great book about friendship, choices and change.

I would have given the book 4 stars, but I didn't care for the ending.

*I'd like to thank the author/publisher/Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a for and honest review*
Was this review helpful?
A great novel, beautiful depiction of the characters with some tense moments thrown into the mix. Will definitely pick more books by this talented author.
Was this review helpful?
When I first started this book based on the description I though murder/mystery thriller type book. This is not that type of book. This is a person who has walked away from everyone and we get to see if they come back, if they are ok.  There is no urgent feeling in this book but it is a good story about lifelong best friends.

The author did a great job with description and I really felt for the characters. Not in a good way. I disliked all the characters. They were written so well. 

It wasn’t what I expected but it was a good read.
Was this review helpful?
Without Her, by Rosalind Brackenbury, was nothing quite like I had expected. From the synopsis, I knew Claudia had been called by Phil, the husband of her long-time friend, Hannah, when she fails to arrive at their summer home, and is deemed missing. Claudia leaves America to head to the South of France and help Hannah's family find her.

What I did not expect from this synopsis was to find a story rich in exploring relationships, and how far we can bend traditional expectations of them. What can be forgiven, and what cannot be forgotten? What are we willing to ignore in order to hold onto relationships, and what are we forced to give up if we cannot? 

Brackenbury presents characters who are sometimes infuriating, sometimes likable, but always honest - sometimes so honest you find yourself cringing. She presents issues of living on our own terms in very different ways through Claudia, Hannah, Philip, and Alexandre, bringing readers to question whether there really is a "right" way of doing things, and opening their minds to other ideas. 

Had I known about the topics that would be brought up in this novel prior to reading it, I'm not sure it would have caught my attention. However, it is a very unique story, and I feel thankful to have read it. It's not the type of book where I found myself thinking about the characters in between picking it up, but instead, the struggles they were facing, and how I would ever deal with those same struggles if I were in any of their positions.

Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced copy in order for an honest review. Without Her hits bookstores in July - keep an eye out for it!
Was this review helpful?
This compelling story of the lifelong friendship of two women, across two continents and several countries, reminds us that true friendship is not always easy.
Was this review helpful?
Without Her is a story about two steadfast friends: Hannah and Claudia. They met in boarding school and because lifelong friends. Claudia receives a message from Hannah's husband that she is missing. She rushes to Europe and the story flashes back to various time frames to fill in the story of the women,  I didn't care for the ending, but I understand why the author chose to handle the situation in that manner. It's a novel about friendship and difficult choices.
Was this review helpful?