I Let You Go

“A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?”

i let you go

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating…

I let You Go was our second Book Club book and it was enjoyed by us all. I struggled with it at first and toyed with reading it or not due to the tragic beginning which sets the story but that is all I will disclose! However, I persevered with it and was so glad I did. A  psychological thriller, part crime novel,  follows both a police team and a number of characters through the unraveling of the ‘tragic accident’ twisting and turning, surprising and shocking from beginning to end  and then surprising you even more  with its unsettling ending! This is one of those reads that takes you far too late into the night and leaving you wanting more.

I enjoy a good psychological thriller, and this one for me, fell into the category of excellent ones.

It’s so hard to say too much about the book without giving away too much. The plot is very, very cleverly written, the characters are well developed and the relationships between each one of them are very realistic. I felt I could relate to each of them. I think the author got a bit carried away with the setting or didn’t bother to do too much research into the places as, being from Wales and living near Swansea, there is no way Jenna could have walked from the bus stop to the coast where the people on the caravan site speak only in Welsh to each other and have such Welsh names. Now, had she got off the bus in Cardigan and walked along the Cardigan Bay coast towards Aberystwyth, I may have believed the setting, but please, not Swansea!! That is the only moan I have about this book! It was a great read, full of killer surprises and a powerful message running throughout.

I found this article while researching the author Clare Mackintosh, which I thought you may find interesting to read.

How I write by Clare Mackintosh.

clare mackintosh

The way I approach a novel changes all the time, but
 as I start work on my third book I feel I am now beginning to develop some kind of system. I wrote I Let You Go piecemeal, changing and editing as I went along; stopping halfway and rewriting the first section; always looking over what I did the previous day, before continuing. Now I simply press on, getting the first draft down in whatever way I can, until I write The End.Clare Mackintosh

I plan in a notebook first of all, with vague attempts to separate the pages into ‘characters’, ‘settings’, ‘story’, ‘themes’, ‘research’ and so on. Generally these become muddled very quickly, and I’m left with a notebook filled with scribbled pencil marks. I then start making a proper plan in a Word document. I have previously experimented with spreadsheets, and although they make it easy to move scenes around, there is something about a spreadsheet that saps me of creativity! I don’t write a synopsis, but I do write two documents that fall either side of one. The first is a sort of blurb for the book.

Longer than an elevator pitch, but more ‘salesy’ than a synopsis, this is what I send to my editor and agent, and it’s what encapsulates the ‘feel’ of the book, as well as the story concept. The second document is a list of what happens in the story. I could call it timeline, except that would be a slight exaggeration – it’s more of a brain-dump onto a Word document, and it changes all the time. It’s just there to help me capture all the little flashes of story I’ve been thinking about, and hope will find their way into the book.

If there’s research to do, I’ll type up my notes into a separate document, and save everything in neat folders in Dropbox (‘previous drafts’, ‘current draft’, ‘research,’ and so on). I am meticulous about saving previous versions, and so each time I start a rewrite I create a new document and file the old one away. That way nothing is ever lost, and I can see the progress the book makes from draft to draft.

When I’m finally ready to start I open a new Word document and begin. At the start of the writing day – normally before I do the school run, so I can ponder on my dog walk – I look at my rough scene breakdown and start thinking about what that scene will look like. I let it play out in my head, and use ‘dead’ time like swimming, or waiting at the bus stop for the school bus, to plan my writing approach. That way the moment I sit down at my desk I’m ready to start writing the scene. I don’t like to finish work in the middle of a scene, but equally I hate being faced with a blank page the following day, so I tend to leave my manuscript with notes in capitals. FOLLOW THIS WITH THE CAR SCENE, for example, or SHE FINDS THE LETTER, is enough to give me a jump-start when I next look at the page.

My first drafts are short – around 75,000 words – but that no longer worries me. I know now that’s just how I write, and that the rewrite is where I flesh out some of the story, or bring out more of the characters’ back-stories. It takes me about three months to write a first draft, and I like to get a head start on the word count by going on retreat. I go to an amazing place in France called Chez Castillon, where I can write 5,000 words a dayinstead of my usual 2,000, and come home with virtually a third of my story written. As soon as I get home I start looking forward to the next trip…

When I reach the end I print this ‘dirty draft’ out and go through it with a thick red pen. I ignore minor issues and focus first of all purely on plot. Then I read it again, with a different coloured pen, focusing on character. I take my mutilated manuscript back to my desk and start correcting some of the glaring errors I’ve identified. I still consider this my ‘first draft’, and although I make some significant amends at this stage, it’s not as substantial a rewrite as it will need – I just want to tidy it up so that it’s in pretty good shape for when my editor sees it.

After a long chat with my editor, the hard work really begins! I start a new worddocument, and literally write the book again. There’s a fair amount of copying and pasting, but generally I’ve found that I produce much better work if I write from scratch, using the previous draft as inspiration. So I often have both versions on my computer screen, side by side, clearly labelled as I have a horror of saving the wrong one! I work my way through chronologically, swearing liberally when I reach the middle, and it feels like a pack of cards about to come tumbling down.

I repeat this process as many times as it takes to get it right, and although I could cry with frustration at times, I can see each draft getting stronger and stronger, and it makes it all worthwhile. Just about!
“I Let You Go” book review & “How I Write” by Clare Mackintosh.

We were 7 members at the meeting and the conversation was quite lively. I had prepared a ‘high tea’ for us with a variety of sandwiches, and other members contributing to some savouries and cakes. The pleasure of Book Club lies in the gastronomic delighted as well as the written word! Click on the picture if you would like to know more about throwing an afternoon tea!

How-to-Throw-An-Amazing-Summer-Afternoon-Tea-Party1-700x467   Please post your reviews of this book on this blog.



4 thoughts on “I Let You Go

  1. I Let You Go

    Very mixed bag, this one. Just like Room, i feel that each half of the book is at odds with the other. Part One tells us of Jenna, a woman who leaves her home to start a new life on the Swansea coast. Mourning the death of her child, Jenna is a character that i felt great sympathy for. She slowly starts rebuilding her life and you feel rather proud of her. Then at the end of Part One, a twist occurs (there are a few in the novel). At first, i couldn’t figure out how the twist was possible but i reread a few of the earlier chapters and smiled – the author pulled the rug out from under me and i rather enjoyed it. Twists are usually great. Which leads me to Part Two, which has some of the most idiotic ideas ever committed to the page. There are two more twists within a few chapters of each other. The first makes it clear that Jenna’s plight could easily have been avoided. The second is just ridiculous. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Coincidences do occur in reality but one of the revelations in this book (concerning the parentage of a minor character) is utterly pointless. I can imagine the author thinking “ooh this will make the reader gasp!” but actually solicits nothing but an eye-roll. I have to commend the author, however, for creating one of the most heinous characters i have ever had the displeasure of reading about. Ian Peterson is absolutely vile and made me sick to my core (which as i have said before, is a very good thing, as the job of an author is to make you feel). To touch further on the first twist of Part Two, it makes Jenna seem very silly indeed. Jenna experiences some horrific trauma….but does absolutely nothing to stop it. She could quite easily have saved lives by simply doing what any sane human being would do. But she doesn’t. She just accepts it. Characters in books, tv and film are supposed to be flawed. But Jenna’s actions are masochistic to a degree that made me treat the novel as a silly distraction and nothing more. ** out of *****.


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