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«Read Regional 2020

Linda Green: The Last Thing She Told Me

The Last Thing She Told Me focuses on four generations of women from the same family and the secrets which have shaped their lives. The novel begins as Nicola visits her ailing grandmother Betty, who, moments before she dies, whispers that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother dismisses it as nonsense, but when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone in Betty’s garden, Nicola realises something sinister has taken place and has to decide whether to go to the police in order to unearth the truth, even though she knows it may destroy her family. Nicola is driven by a desire to uncover the truth and believes secrets are best out in the open. But her mother Irene takes the view that long-buried secrets should remain there.

I was inspired to write the book following the death of my 92-year-old grandmother, who, just before she died, said something which suggested she had suffered a loss which we knew nothing about. It got me thinking about the women of her generation who took secrets to their grave.

It also made me think about the way society, the media and now social media, shame women for things that happen to them, even including being raped and sexually abused. I was very aware that although society may have moved on from the time when women were shamed for getting pregnant out of wedlock, young women today are still shamed for behaving in an ‘inappropriate’ way, and victim blaming is very much alive.

The novel is set in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. It’s a beautiful part of the world which I know well, having lived there for eleven years, and Pecket Well, a village set high up on the hills above Hebden Bridge, is the sort of place where I can imagine a secret could be kept for years.

Questions for Readers

How do the mother/daughter relationships between Irene and Nicola and Nicola and Ruby differ?

What purpose did William’s letters to Betty serve in the book?

What significance do the fairy statues have throughout the story?

Do you think Ruby and Maisie will grow up in a society which judges women in the same way as it judged their great-grandmother, grandmother and mother?

Recommended Reading

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Daughter by Jane Shemilt
We Know, You Know by Erin Kelly
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Linda Green is the million-copy bestselling author of ten novels. Her novel The Last Thing She Told Me was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and reached no 11 in the paperback bestseller charts. She is a former journalist, having written for The Guardian, the Independent
on Sunday and The Big Issue. She is also a creative writing tutor and has taught writing workshops at various literary festivals. Linda lives in West Yorkshire with her husband, teenage son and two rescue guinea pigs.

Events

Normanton Library
Market St, Normanton WF6 2AR
Thursday 12 March, 11am

Huyton Library
Civic Way, Huyton, Knowsley L36 9GD
Friday 13 March, 2pm

Hull Central Library
Albion St, Hull Hu1 3TF
Thursday 2 April, 6.30pm

Keighley Library
North St, Keighley BD21 3SX
Saturday 18 April, 2pm

Hebden Bridge Library
Cheetham St, Hebden Bridge HX7 8EP
Thursday 9 April, 7pm

Ramsbottom Library
Carr St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9AE
Wednesday 15 April, 2pm

Wallsend Library
16 The Forym, Wallsend NE28 8JR
Thursday 30 April, 4pm

Cleckheaton Library
Whitcliffe Rd, Cleckheaton BD19 3DX
Friday 15 May, 7pm

Jarrow Focus Library
Cambrian Street, Jarrow NE32 3QN
Wednesday 3 June, 2pm
(Part of Write Festival 2020)

Middlesbrough Central Library
Victoria Square, Middlesbrough TS21 2Ay
Tuesday 16 June, 7pm
(Joint event with Clara Barley and CJ Cooke)
Part of Crossing the Tees Book Festival

Armley Library
2 Stocks Hill, Leeds LS12 1UQ
Thursday 18 June, 2pm

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