Member Reviews

After dealing with emotional abuse from her mother and being raped by her sister’s husband, Meredith has not gone of of her house in nearly three years. She works remotely and has her groceries delivered. Meredith fills her free time with baking and putting jigsaw puzzles together. With an online support group and a weekly visitor to check on her Meredith slowly starts to break down her trauma and barriers to emerge back into the world on her own terms. This book was triggering for me, but it also proves how you can persevere through your anxiety and depression and live a healthy, happy life.

Was this review helpful?


As the story begins we meet our protagonist Meredith Maggs, a resident of Glasgow, who has not ventured outside her home in over 1214 days. Though somewhat a recluse, she does keep busy. She shops online and is employed full-time in a writing job that allows her to work remotely. She socially interacts with an online support group and communicates virtually with her counselor. Pushing 40, she lives with her cat Fred as a constant companion and fills her free time with books, jigsaw puzzles and baking. She has a fixed set of people with whom she interacts in person - her best friend Sadie and her two children and her grocery delivery boy. Added to this mix are the recent additions of Tom McDermott, a “friend” from the Holding Hands Charity organization, Celeste, one of her online friends, who reaches out to her personally and her 10-year-old neighbor Jacob Alistair Montgomery who knocks on her door and introduces himself. She does have immediate family close by but it’s complicated. It’s not that Meredith does not want to leave the house but her efforts to step outside her safe haven seem to exacerbate her anxiety and cause panic attacks – the reasons for which are gradually disclosed. As the narrative progresses and we jump back and forth between past and present, we learn more about Meredith and the traumatic events that led to her self-imposed isolation. We follow Meredith’s journey as she struggles with anxiety and depression, willing herself to resume control of her life.

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander is a beautiful story full of hope and heart. Each of the characters in this novel is well-fleshed out ( even the unlikeable ones). There are dark moments in Meredith's life and her road to recovery is not an easy one – she stumbles and falls but we cheer for her as she does not stop trying to bring about positive change in her life. Everyone in her support system genuinely cares for her and what I liked about each of these characters is that none of them are pushy or overbearing and though they want her to venture out of her home, they give her the space and the time she needs to open herself up to everything life has to offer. The author covers several sensitive topics such as mental health, sexual assault and domestic violence, dysfunctional families and the far-reaching effects of parental neglect on a child’s sense of self-worth with the utmost compassion. The pacing of the novel is on the slower side which suits the central theme and natural progression of the story. I liked the fact that the author did not rush to an impractical, eye-roll-inducing, OTT ending but rather ended the story on a hopeful note – keeping it real and relatable. Meredith is an endearing protagonist. Though her story has its difficult moments it is ultimately one of courage and hope.

Many thanks to Claire Alexander, Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a digital review copy of this wonderful novel. All expressions expressed in this review are my own. This book is scheduled to be released on November 1, 2022.

Was this review helpful?

This is a hard book to classify. It’s a mostly introspective first-person account of a woman who has reached a crisis point that has kept her housebound for more than three years. Afraid to leave home, she has developed routines and relationships that allow her to survive.

But this book is so much more. It’s about Meredith and her quirks but also the very slow reveal of how she has come to this point. It’s about generationally dysfunctional families, close friends, abusive relationships, survival and how to thrive.

I enjoyed the writing and characters very much. Meredith is a sympathetic character and I was absolutely rooting for her healing and happiness. The pace was a bit off, especially in the last third which dragged for me.

Trigger warnings: rape, child abuse

Was this review helpful?

Like a lot of people, I am still processing everything from the past two years with isolating and quarantining and Meredith, Alone really struck a chord with me. I think this is a book that the less reviews you read, the better your enjoyment of the story will be. Much like Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, everything is a slow build to the big reveal.

Meredith may be living alone and may not have left her flat for 1.214 but this story is so full of rich characters that sometimes it is easy to forget she hasn't been past her front door in almost 4 years. Meredith's relationships are complicated and realistic and we all wish for a friend as good as Sadie. Though this book covers various mental health issues, the storylines are written with care and the overall the book was a real delight to read.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC.

Was this review helpful?

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in over 3 years. As her support system grows, so does her courage to venture out past her front door. Will Meredith be able to overcome what’s been keeping her inside all this time?

What an endearing story of working through the trauma of the past, fractured relationships, and lies learned about one’s inherent worth and lovability. Thoughtfully and sensitively written, with heartwarming moments and a touch of humor amidst the discussion of many heavy subjects.

For those who love to witness a story of healing, and possibly share with Mer the cozy love of home, puzzles, books, baking, tea, and cat friends.

I loved Meredith, and would gladly hang out with her over puzzles, tea, and her delicious baked treats. So much about her surprised me. Obsessed with her friend Sadie, and want her in my life too.

A beautiful character driven story of friendship, healing, and growth that also models how we can be better safe places for others ourselves.

CW: rape, emotional & physical abuse, suicidal ideation, self harm, miscarriage, anxiety & depression.

Thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for this ARC!

Was this review helpful?

Meredith has isolated herself indoors for 1,300 days and counting, until the time comes when she she is able to step outside, prompted by the kindness and persistence of an internet friend Celeste; by a best friend who is the only one to visit personally;by her online therapist Diane; and by a visiting social worker, Tom.

I was moved by these people who become Meredith's support group, never giving up on trying to get her out of the house and into society again.

I also liked that the story behind Meredith's strange behavior is gradually revealed, and how she comes to face it and speak about it. Meredith is propelled to help the people she comes in contact with in person, on the internet, or from her front door and windows, and this also helps to get her away from her own problems.

This is a sensitive, contemporary novel that looks at trauma and its aftermath,

Was this review helpful?

Wow, wow, wow. What a journey this one was. I did not anticipate all the feels from this one, but it was such a wonderful story. Meredith hasn't left her house in 1,214 days. She's figured out how to make it work, and she has connection in a way that works for her. However, this wasn't always life for her, and it isn't immediately clear why. The story bounces between Meredith's current realities and the days before now. As it goes, you see the evolution of Meredith and start to see what got her to this point. Meredith is a wonderful main character, and I was rooting for her as she found her voice throughout. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this November 2022 release. (Note: I did not realize I'd have to wait so long to discuss this with others, but trust me, Meredith is worth the wait!)

Was this review helpful?

CW: rape/sexual assault, domestic violence, emotionally abusive mother, social isolation

Meredith hasn't left her house in 1,214 days. She has a robust system: she works remotely, has groceries delivered weekly, has her best friend visit frequently to run errands or share a cup of tea, and keeps herself occupied with complex jigsaw puzzles, an online support group, elaborate baking, and playing with her sole companion, her cat, Fred. She knows she can't stay inside and hide from her trauma forever, but after two strangers casually enter her life and unknowingly try to coax her out of her bubble, she decides it time to at least try.

It's classic women's fiction with no romance elements for the main character. It's mostly about self reflection and growth, learning how to overcome and accept your past, and facing your fears. However, it is not an easy read. I'm not talking about the writing style - it's very pleasantly written - but the subject matter will always be difficult to stomach regardless of how well-written it is. To say Meredith was heavily traumatized is an understatement. She's lived in abuse almost her whole life, and the inciting incident + subsequent mixed reactions that prompted her social isolation is deeply traumatizing.

It's arduous to find light in this type of darkness, but Alexander handles it well. (Although, it still is a massive bummer to read.) Meredith is a genuinely gentle, kind soul who works around her traumatic circumstances instead of wallowing in it. It's heartwarming to see her interactions with other people - some who know of her situation, others strangers - and the reader will immediately root for her. Early reviews are drawing comparisons to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and a few Fredrik Backman novels for its approach towards social isolation and trauma, so if you enjoyed those novels you'll appreciate this too.

It's only four stars because I have mixed feelings. It's well crafted and flows smoothly despite the alternating timelines (my literary pet peeve) but it's just... a bummer to read. I appreciate the message but I didn't enjoy it, though I couldn't DNF because I wanted to see Meredith have the happy ending she deserves. It's too heavy and claustrophobic for me, but I know other readers will enjoy it more than I did.

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing + NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Pub date: November 1, 2022

Was this review helpful?

Thank you so much Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley.

Meredith has not left the house 1,214 days but she insists she isn't alone.

I LOVED this book. I expected something really lighthearted. While there are plenty of lighthearted moments, there are some really hard topics discussed. I appreciated the vulnerability of Meredith and everyone else in this book. It's beautiful. All of it. Every moment on every page. I found myself reading it slower and slower because I did not want it to end. I was with Meredith in the moment and that was exactly where I wanted to be. I can't tell you how much I appreciated and cherished this book.

Was this review helpful?

There seems to be a new sub-genre emerging in literature, and I’m not sure I’m a fan. More and more books are being published that feature a loveable main character with mild mental illness or social isolation that is magically fixed through the power of community. The trend seems to have begun with A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Bachman, and I don’t fault that masterpiece for the resulting wave. At lease in Bachman’s novel, Ove’s only real issue was the social isolation which comes with old age, and so an injection of community responsibility is a reasonable cure to his ails. However, in Claire Alexander’s forthcoming book, much more heady issues are solved the same way, to a much less satisfying result.
In Meredith, Alone, Meredith has agoraphobia and has not left her home in over four thousand days. She has a supportive best friend, who by implication handles all of her errands, and an estranged mother and sister. The book opens when Meredith is visited by a gentleman from a social services organization that sends potential friends to visit the housebound. He, with a friend Meredith meets on the internet and her ever-faithful cat, manage to pull Meredith out her depression and her home by the end of the book. Frankly, the entire plot is both too grim and too optimistic – an impressive feat. Meredith has gone through horrible trauma and now has a serious mental illness, but the thought of going to a friend’s birthday party practically cures her. I am all for a cozy, fell-good novel, but this one verges on offensive.
The cat, however, has some very cute scenes.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy.

I wasn’t too thrilled with this book. It was a fast read but the writing was a little choppy. I tried to connect with Meredith and couldn’t. I would not recommend this book. I would suggest Eleanor Oliphant instead.

Was this review helpful?

Meredith is a smart and likeable woman who seems to have it all between holding down a full-time remote job, owning her own home, keeping company with her rescue cat Fred and her best friend Sadie who visits often with her two children in tow. She seems content even though she hasn't gone past her front door in over three years. I was intrigued by Meredith and compelled to learn what made her the agoraphobe that she is. We are introduced to great characters who become key components in getting Meredith to re-examine her current state of being. Meredith is sweet and relatable and I loved getting to know her story, her friends and Fred. Highly recommend.

Was this review helpful?

I think that during the pandemic we all learned a little bit about being alone, and being stuck in our house, and maybe even feeling alone when you’re stuck in the house with people. For Meredith, the protagonist of this novel, actress isolated from the rest of the world is not because of the pandemic but because of a trauma, in fact multiple traumas, that she has dealt with in her life and her coping mechanism has been to remove herself from the world. As Meredith attempts to work through some of that trauma we see the true strength in her and the resiliency of people, especially women, to overcome some of the horrible things that happen in life. We have all heard the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”, but sometimes we need a village as adults to remind us of who we are, what we can do, and all the things we have left to do in this world. This was a beautiful book and I took so much away from it.

Was this review helpful?

Trigger warning- there are memories and flashbacks to rape, childhood emotional abuse, and self-harm.

I was quite fascinated with Meredith’s story and I loved how the author wove the timelines of past and present in a particular way to keep me reading, page after page! There is much emotional depth to the storytelling. The characters felt very real to me and I was cheering Meredith on from the very beginning. There is so much wisdom here about how we get help after trauma and how important it is to have support in the form of friends and family who are there for us unconditionally as well as compassionate professional help.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a moving, character driven story about how our mind protects and allows us to heal from trauma that we have experienced. Meredith is an agoraphobic that has not left her house in over 3 years. She is trying to live her best life online and with friends that come into her life. There is Tom, who comes weekly from a charity to be a friend. Her cat, Fred, is a constant companion. The Tesco delivery man, the therapist, the boy across the street and her online friends from support groups all keep her company. But her loneliness is palpable.

Meredith reveals early on that she has cut herself off from her family which the reader can assume is the root of whatever traumatic event caused her to stay inside.

All in all, an emotional read that's well worth it!

Was this review helpful?

Meredith has not been out of her house for nearly three years. She works from home as an occasional writer, has her groceries and everything else she needs delivered to her house. She loves her cat, Fred, addicted to complicated jigsaw puzzles and bakes and cooks to pass the time. Not to mention the endless mugs of tea she makes for herself and occasional visitors. She has a very weak support system, her friend Sadie, Tom, a social worker and Celeste who she met in an on line group. She is estranged from both her mother and her only sister, Fiona. Throughout the novel with times going back and forth in not any logical order, we learn that the sisters were brought up by a bitter single mother who always fond fault with Meredith and never missed an opportunity to put her down. She did this to a lesser degree to Fiona as well. To me it quickly became obvious what was the traumatic event that led to Meredith not leaving her home. I didn’t find Meredith a lovable character, she could have taken advantage of the help that was available to her much sooner, than she actually did. Her transition from staying home for so long to getting out after all that time, was kind of sudden and with not much explanation. I see all the 5 star reviews, but for me this was only 3 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

Was this review helpful?

I think anyone who liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine would enjoy this book. Meredith hasn’t left her home in three years, and we spend the novel finding out why. She is resilient, courageous, loyal, and exceedingly kind. Not as quirky as Eleanor, but this is an emotional story with a very dear heroine you’ll root for all the way. Tough topics—sexual assault and an abusive mother, but ultimately this is a novel about the persistence of friendship and the tenacity of one’s own spirit.

Was this review helpful?

While I do like dark humor, this book was just sad. I did like the characters and appreciated the plot line. I had trouble really becoming invested and immersed in the story. I will say the story was unpredictable and surprising at times. and I was glad for a relatively happy ending although i was left wanting more closure.

Was this review helpful?

What an engrossing, very readable story. I couldn’t put it down.

Meredith has not left her Glasgow home in over 1800 days. She has her routines: exercise, housework, baking, cooking, personal hygiene, the care and maintenance of Fred the cat. No sweatpants and hoodies for Meredith; she dresses as if she is going out, and she really is trying. She sees her therapist Diane via Zoom once a month, and she dutifully follows through on the Diane’s prescribed homework. She’s an admirable woman, approaching her 40th birthday.

Alone though? Alone is no phone calls, no texts, no visitors, no dinner guests, no one to bake scones for, no Christmas or birthday cards, no giving or receiving of gifts – and it has nothing to do with being housebound. Meredith is damaged, but she is hardly ever alone; she has a small but supportive and loyal social network and is making new friends even as she heals.

So why is Meredith housebound? Are her panic attacks and self-enforced house arrest tied to a specific recent incident, or is her agoraphobia more deeply rooted in the years of verbal abuse suffered at the hands of her mother? For over 35 years “Mama” has belittled Meredith and Fiona like it’s her job, the older woman’s breath stinking of cigarette smoke and wine, so one could understand her poisonous influence on Meredith’s psyche.

Through present-day first-person narrative, skillfully interspersed with snapshots of Meredith’s life from the time she was a small child, Claire Alexander allows Meredith’s journey of pain, and hopefully recovery, to reveal itself organically and believably. Strongly character-driven, Meredith’s story is documented with precision and warmth.

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for a non-final ARC of this book. I used it to write my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Compulsively readable and so much fun for me, especially because it was set in Glasgow--and even though it dealt with some super-tough stuff (and I'm not giving anything away here when I say agoraphobia in particular).

As someone who has dealt with that her own self, my hat is seriously tipped to Claire Alexander for what a great job she did depicting some of what can be the myriad realities of such a condition.

The only issue I had with Meredith, Alone is that it seemed to come to a rather abrupt end. Normally I can spot a denouement at 20 paces, so I was expecting a few more chapters. But, maybe that was just me wanting to spend more time with Meredith--and her sister, in particular.

Certainly do hope Ms Alexander writes more fiction books for adults!

Thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC of this book in exchange for feedback. Which, if you've ever read one of my Book Reports before, is something you know I don't hesitate to give, in quite the fashion unvarnished.

Was this review helpful?