Cover Image: Our Fathers

Our Fathers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

'Life was a hard struggle, a long dark night, and we had best be thankful for those left to us to love.'
I loved this book. It felt like a mixture of genres; somewhere between thriller and literary fiction, telling the story of a man who murders his family. But more than that it is a story about family itself, the threads that bind us, the things we inherit, and the memories/past we try to escape.
I felt that Wait's depiction of all the characters and their lives, including the portrayal of their parents, was very well executed. 
The impact parents can have on their children, particularly problematic parents, cannot be understated. She depicts this in a way that is both factual but also gentle and tender. After all we are all products of our upbringing, and this is something we largely cannot control.
'Katrina was aware that she had reached adulthood with no clear sense of her own personality, no real idea of her likes and dislikes, or even where her own edges were.'
The initial story feels like it's centred primarily on the men in the story, with Tommy as the surviving son, and his gentle uncle Malcolm, but I really liked the insight into Katrina's life too.
Given her mother's influence on her in her formative years, it isn't too surprising that she chose the husband she did, even with the personality and characteristics he had. Some of us, it seems, are doomed to repeat cycles and patterns of inherited behaviour.
I loved the ending, and how hopeful it was. I think the emotional aspects of this story, including the acknowledgement of what happened and the 'healing' the characters go through is very true to life. Not everyone is doomed to repeat the same mistakes and behaviours, despite their upbringing. Some of us are able to break free from it.
'the truth was what we felt, not what we knew.'
I would definitely recommend this book. A very enjoyable read that had me hooked very quickly. I'd also definitely read more of Rebecca Wait's work.
Was this review helpful?
Tom returns to his childhood home, the island of Litta in the Hebrides, after 20 years away from the small community where he spent his early years - the place where his father turned a shotgun on his mother, brother and baby sister, before killing himself.
The place where he was the only survivor of that tragic day.

For twenty years Tom has tried to escape the ghosts of his past, but now he feels compelled to return, though he is not sure why.
Turning up on the doorstep of his taciturn uncle, Malcolm, he is searching for answers to the questions that plague him.

What makes a grown man murder his own family and does the same darkness lie within his own heart too? How can we escape the sins of our fathers?


Wow, what a book! Our Fathers is totally gripping and absolutely heartbreaking.

Tom grew up in a household where his father, John, was controlling and often violent behind closed doors, but showed a completely different persona to the world outside. The small community of Litta was shocked by how someone who was apparently such a loving family man and charming neighbour could have done such a thing. He feels an element of guilt for what happened that fateful day, even though he was only eight years old. The weight of the past hangs heavy, and the fear that he will become the same man his father was haunts him.

Malcolm feels guilty too. He and John also grew up with a violent and controlling father. and although they developed into very different kinds of men, he feels he should have seen the darkness within John before such a tragedy came about. Should he have looked closer? 

As Tom and Malcolm start to get to know each other and reflect on their own childhoods, a tenderness starts to develop between them that is beautiful and poignant. They are both quiet and taciturn, and find it hard to be open about their feelings, but as Malcolm does all he can to convince Tom that he is nothing like his father, an understanding grows between them that helps them both to find some peace. The writing here is so unbelievably good - you feel every awkward pause; every unspoken hurt and frustration; and appreciate ever little bit of humour and heartbreak that comes from their interactions. Outstanding!

There is another delicious and shocking thread in this story that will tear you to pieces, and that is the part played by another member of the small community - a community that while it seems to know everything about everyone, is unwilling to look past the surface. No spoilers from me though, so you will just have to read the book to find out!

It is hard to convey how well written and compelling this book is in just a few words. Rebecca Wait uses the remoteness of Litta so cleverly to reflect the emotional isolation of the characters in this story, and the turbulent weather plays its part in heightening every feeling. The threads are all woven so artfully together as we learn the truth behind the events of the past, and follow Tom through his search for answers.

I cannot say that I found this book enjoyable exactly, as many parts were very difficult to read - the hidden domestic abuse, coercion and violence against the vulnerable was very shocking. I was an emotional wreck by the time I had got to the end and had sobbed my way through big chunks of the story! But it is an incredible and oh so well written book that the experience was most definitely worthwhile. I cannot recommend this one highly enough.
Was this review helpful?
This is the first book by this author that I have read and I must say it was an exceptional book. I found it to be touching and extremely well written for the subject matter. it deals with grief and loss from the family that started from a murder suicide and focuses on the son that was left behind to deal with the aftermath of others actions very well written
Was this review helpful?
I could write a very long review of this book with all the blah-blah necessary to explain what I felt reading it.
Or I can be very concise and write something like: go and read it because it's one of the best book I read in a long time.
Everything is perfect: the storytelling, the amazing descriptions of the island, the masterfully written cast of characters.
It was an excellent read, strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Was this review helpful?
An eight year old boy, Tommy, escapes the horrific killing of his family by his father and lives with the guilt stemmed from this and is made worse by his imagination. An unemotional narrative is effective in describing the awful events leading up to and including the murders in this poignant saga.  Poor parenting and control of one person over another spans different generations of the same family as told through the eyes of Tommy as he grows into a man and tries to come to terms with what has happened in his life
There is a great feeling of not just tragedy but also anxiety and loneliness throughout this novel but the denouement brings some element of peace and closure.
Was this review helpful?
Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait is about life on an isolated Scottish island and an act of violence that shatters a family.
Was this review helpful?
It has taken 20 years for Tom to feel the need and to feel able to revisit the island he grew up on where all his family died at the hands of his father, leaving him the only survivor and witness at 10 years old.  Twenty years in which he has moved around, hasn’t settled down.  We follow his progress over a couple of weeks staying with his father’s only brother, now widowed and living a quiet life alone.  Nothing much happens, though his visit is unsettling for many of the islanders.  His reappearance reminds people of how they acted or failed to act at the time, bringing up memories they’d rather forget.  Third person narration from different characters’ viewpoints highlights how this tragedy might have been averted - with hindsight, of course, it would have been - and how impenetrable other people’s family lives are.  

This is an emotionally moving story, written in a straightforward, understated style that mirrors the character of the people most centrally involved, Malcolm and Tom.  I liked its atmosphere and perception, and am grateful to Quercus via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
by Rebecca Wait

One day when Tommy was eight years old his Father shot his brother Nicky, his baby sister Beth and his Mother. Then his Father turned the gun on himself leaving Tommy as the soul survivor, hiding in a cupboard. Unsurprisingly Tommy has had a difficult time living with this this. Now in his 30’s Tom has returned to the remote island of his childhood, Litta. Will this help him lay the demons to rest or will it stir up people’s memories?

This is a gentle book – surprising considering the dreadful murders. Tom has been running all his life but has now returned to face his past. However, this isn’t a swift acting, seeking out of the truth. This is more about him coping with being the survivor. He isn’t poking and prodding everyone seeking out reasons but rather walking the desolate island and sitting in the silent company of his Uncle, Malcolm, who has his own regrets from the past.

I loved this book. It is hard to explain what kept me reading – it certainly wasn’t the action as this story moved slowly much like the island it is set upon. The characters, however, are quite wonderful. Who can’t but feel for this man who has lived with his Father’s actions for most of his life? The taciturn Malcolm who is a man of few words but who feels that he failed the young Tommy. Then there are the neighbours – should they have noticed clues? Should they have intervened within the family? Those dilemmas at the time which still haunt them.

This is a very moving story. Everyone is a sum of their past and of people’s actions & inactions. So noticeable in this case but so true of us all. The depth of feeling and beautiful description combined to make this a wonderful book which I am glad that I read.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
Despite a horrific massacre at the heart of events, this is a quiet novel that has a tangible air of fragility and melancholy about it. Characters are adrift or lonely, many are grieving or suffering from secret guilt, and the small island adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere throughout. 

Wait recounts her story in clear, unfussy prose which has enough pliancy to convey hard subjects with ease. The only thing I'd say is that while this isn't a crime novel, it covers much of the same ground I've seen in recent crime fiction: the survivor who returns home to come to terms with his past, guilt and secrets in a small community, the unknowable at the heart of other people's domestic lives. In that sense this feels like a very familiar story, albeit told with a close attention to character and emotion.
Was this review helpful?
A thank-you to Rebecca Wait, Quercus Books and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
This is a most moving and gripping novel touching the subject of family violence, both verbal and physical, and of consequences of surviving a horrific tragedy witnessed as a child. Is violence towards family members something one cannot escape from in adult life, having experienced it in childhood? 
This is not a murder mystery, but everything  that is revealed gradually regarding several families living on a small island in the Hybrides, did keep me on the edge on my chair. The island itself, with its severe weather, harsh living conditions it offers, terrain and isolation from the mainland, is atmospheric and is a character itself in the novel. 
Writing and narration are superb, and truly deserve high praise.
Was this review helpful?
Our Fathers is such a moving story. I felt sad for Tom. How could anyone cope with such a tragedy? Remembering every minute of every day what his father had done and worrying that he was like him! 
I've read all of Rebecca Waits books now and they just keep getting better. I highly recommend this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
Oh this was a beautiful, haunting and extraordinarily melancholy novel from Rebecca Wait, I was gripped by the melodic quality of it and by Tom’s story, the sole survivor of a family annihilation who can’t move on and whose whole existence sticks in that one moment.

The island of Litta is a small, contained community where everyone knows everything…yet still they didn’t see the tragedy coming. We open as Tom returns to Litta after 20 years, turning up unexpectedly on his Uncles doorstep, from there Rebecca Wait paints us a picture, of grief, loss and humanity that is at turns painfully gorgeous and at others heart wrenchingly sad.

The setting comes to raw, intense life around this group of characters, hindsight, retrospective, all play a part in unravelling the depths of what was unseen, the author offering up snapshot moments that show the hidden realities.

I loved it. It was sad, yes, also intensely authentic, with a depth of feeling and perception that is hard to describe.

Highly Recommended.
Was this review helpful?