Only In Whispers by Jacqueline Grima #BookReview #BlogTour

A forgotten past

An uncertain future

A family hiding from the truth

When their mother is hospitalised with depression, Annie and her brother Matthew are fostered by their beloved Aunt Helen. Their family eventually reunited, the siblings begin a new life in Derbyshire with their mother and new stepfather.

Now in her thirties and separated from her husband, Annie is struggling to escape the past and move forward with her son. Haunted by memories of her childhood, she begins to realise that there may have been more to her time in foster care than her mother claims. Why did social services take her and Matthew away? Who can she trust to tell her what really happened?

As Annie finds out more, things take a sinister turn…has the life she’s lived so far been a lie?

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Only In Whispers by Jacqueline Grima today. Many thanks to the author, publishers and Tracy Fenton for inviting me and for my ecopy of the novel.

I need to start this review with a small confession; I went into reading Only In Whispers assuming it was a psychological thriller and I was some way into the book when I realised that though there is a mystery at the heart of it, it's actually a family drama. It may not have been the book I was expecting then but the superb characterisation and intriguing plot meant it was soon a novel I found myself having to read "just a few pages more" of as I needed to discover the truth just as much as Annie.
Although Annie is haunted by her vague memories of the past, there is plenty of drama in her current life too. She is separated from her husband, David but it is clear that she hasn't yet truly escaped from his clutches. David owns the house she and their son, Spencer live in, chose how to decorate it and even has a key, meaning he can come in whenever he wishes and so the sense of oppression she is still under is almost palpable. It would be very easy to criticise Annie for being weak but marriage to a controlling, manipulative man has left her lacking in self-confidence and means that it's easy to understand why she has made what she thinks are the best decisions for Spencer. It's no secret that she and her brother, Matthew spent time living with their Aunt Helen as children when their mother was ill with depression and so it's no surprise that she wants to try and disrupt her son's childhood as little as possible. However, when she starts having flashbacks about her past, she begins to suspect that there are gaps in her memories and begins to question just what she remembers.
I think it's really important with domestic dramas that the relationships portrayed are believable and there's a real authenticity to those described in Only In Whispers. I loved Annie's close ties to her brother, Matthew and as the truth is revealed, they are naturally drawn together to process the devastating impact on their lives. Her relationship with her mum and stepfather is shown to be warm and loving which makes her sense of betrayal easy to sympathise with when she suspects they have been hiding the truth from her for years. Her relationship with David may be more toxic but it is entirely plausible and I couldn't help but become emotionally invested in Annie's story as she sought not only the facts about the past but also the strength to be able to move on from her marriage.
As well as the decades old mystery, this is a book about the highs and lows of family life, and about protecting those you love and being there for one another. Only In Whispers is an emotional and assured debut from Jacqueline Grima, I thoroughly recommend it to anybody who enjoys well written immersive dramas and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Only In Whispers is published by new independent publishers, Manatee Books and can be purchased here.

Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Jacqueline Grima has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her creative work has appeared in a variety of publications and, in 2014, she was shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary Award. Only in Whispers is her first novel. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @GrimaJgrima and read her blog at