A Quiet Life

A Quiet Life A Double Life Is No Life At AllSince The Disappearance Of Her Husband In , Laura Leverett Has Been Living In Limbo With Her Daughter In Geneva All Others See Is Her Conventional, Charming Exterior Nobody Guesses The Secret She Is CarryingHer Double Life Began Years Ago, When She Stepped On To The Boat Which Carried Her Across The Atlantic InEager To Learn, And Eager To Love, She Found Herself Suddenly Inspired By A Young Communist Woman She Met On The Boat In London She Begins To Move Between Two Different Worlds From The Urbane Society Of Her Cousins And Their Upper Class Friends, To The Anger Of Those Who Want To Forge A New Society One Night At A Party She Meets A Man Who Seems To Her To Combine Both Worlds, But Who Is Hiding A Secret Bigger Than She Could Ever ImagineImpelled By Desire, She Finds Herself Caught Up In His Hidden Life Love Grows, But So Do Fear And Danger This Is The Warm Blooded Story Of The Cold War The Story Of A Wife Whose Part Will Take Her From London In The Blitz, To Washington At The Height Of McCarthyism, To The Possible Haven Of The English Countryside Gradually She Learns What Is At Stake For Herself, Her Husband, And Her Daughter Gradually She Realises The Dark Consequences Of Her Youthful IdealismSweeping And Exhilarating, Alive With Passion And Betrayal, A Quiet Life Is The First Novel From A Brilliant New Voice In British Fiction

British feminist writer and human rights activist She is the author of Living Dolls The Return of Sexism 2010, Virago and The New Feminism 1998, Virago , and is the director of Women for Refugee Women.Her father was Nicolas Walter, an anarchist and secular humanist writer her grandfather was William Grey Walter, a neuroscientist After attending North London Collegiate School, she read Engl

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  • Hardcover
  • 400 pages
  • A Quiet Life
  • Natasha Walter
  • English
  • 11 August 2017

10 thoughts on “A Quiet Life

  1. says:

    The author has written a detailed historical story about double lives and spying Clearly a lot of meticulous research has gone into it and it draws on a number of real life cases In 1939, Laura moves to England from the United States Over time, she acquires a secretive life and she has the perfect character to do so She is a buttoned down personality who easily takes on the layers of secrecy required It is a well plotted novel that has exquisite descriptions You get a real feel of the fear that real life spies must have felt A great and suspenseful read Many thanks to the Borough Press for an ARC.

  2. says:

    2.5 5The attempted integration of a narrative heavy on espionage, wartime romance, and marital strife with the predominant theme, social constraints on women in the mid 20th century, doesn t work well here Perhaps Walter, author of two quite successful books on feminism, was overly concerned about being too discursive or didactic in addressing her concerns With the upshot being that she kits out the story in a lot of cliched material, loses sight of character development, and buries her terrific insights in a baggy narrative Frustrating.

  3. says:

    SPIES, amirite It s all poison tipped umbrellas and silly wigs Er, well A Quiet Life is a subtle portrayal of mid 20th century spying, focusing on the psychological toll of secrecy and the everyday social manipulations that, I imagine, were the reality for most Soviet spies in the West.It was these social manipulations that I loved most within the novel the small changes in personality that protagonist and spy Laura would use to exert information from people Haven t we all wondered how others see us This is the question that preoccupies Laura, and it s fascinating how she s able to change the perceptions of her so called friends , convincing them she s an airhead and therefore too stupid to bother being cautious around Quiet is also an interesting portrait of wartime London a grey city, strangely muted despite all the turmoil and the upper class set who see WW2 as either an incovenience or a chance for valour.That s what s good about Quiet What s bad is how stultifying it is most of the time.Listen, literary realism is not my favourite genre, but I can appreciate the way that, say, Tessa Hadley imbues the everyday with meaning.But Quiet isn t just a quiet story it s a boring one.Personally, I think the seeds of this are in first novel itis Laura is a damp squib of a protagonist Passive and prickly, she seems to have little inner life, and her dour demeanour makes her an unpleasant person to spend time with over the course of the novel.Despite being tightly focused on Laura, the POV keeps her at arm s length As a result, there s little emotion evoked The decision to render 75% of the dialogue as reported speech is verging on bizarre and, again, serves to push the reader away, rather than draw her into the thick of the narrative.There s a hedging quality to the prose that s, frankly, cringey Filter words she felt , she realised , she started to weigh down the sentences Worst of all, the author never commits to a damn thing Run a search and you d find the phrases seemed to and seemed almost to number hundreds if not thousands I realise this is granular stuff that few readers would pinpoint, but it really does affect the narrative in a negative way This is the type of novel that wears its boringness like a badge of honour, as if real readers don t go in for cheap thrills Yet subtlety doesn t have to be boring drama can be drawn out of the everyday I bristle at the way Natasha Walter has been compared to Curtis Sittenfeld, because Sittenfeld at her best makes the mundane feel momentus Walter never comes close.Despite its inherant dullness, I did find Quiet absorbing in places, but it was also incredibly irritating in places It s the type of book where you always know what the weather is doing and you never know how the characters are feeling.

  4. says:

    I was surprised and intrigued to see that the feminist and humanitarian Natasha Walter who previously only wrote nonfiction has published her first novel The blurb for A Quiet Life explains how it s about a female spy during WWII and I wasn t sure how a thrilling plot like this would work alongside the author s compelling ideas about feminism As it turns out, the main character Laura is not a feminist or especially an intellectual She doesn t become a political subversive and spy delivering crucial government secrets to an underground communist network for the Soviet Union because she has particularly high ideals Rather, she takes on this highly dangerous and controversial work because she s influenced by a passionate female friend and a man she falls in love with However, the way in which Walter captures the subtlety of Laura s psychology, the prevailing ideologies social attitudes of the era and the crisis of an individual s political consciousness during times of international conflict is absolutely compelling It makes Laura a dynamic subject and her story engagingly complex than if Walter had chosen to write a whole novel about Florence, Laura s ardent communist friend Reading A Quiet Life felt to me like reading a novel by Doris Lessing for the way it wholly commits to faithfully representing Laura s experience in times of political turbulence.Read my full review of A Quiet Life by Natasha Walter on LonesomeReader

  5. says:

    I found this novel to be a definite page turner The characters were interesting, the action engrossing There were many things I liked about it one, the author tells the story without judgment or taking sides two, I found it intriguing that violence and abuse in the protagonist s history was vaguely hinted at without being explicitly stated or described It struck me as a look into the life of someone like spies, undercover operators, et al who has to live a lie and the terrible toll it can take The only thing I would ask for is a little a lot of the characters thinking and inner dialogue Written in the third person, it lends itself naturally to that Would that have taken away from the compelling force of the narrative Good question.

  6. says:

    Ambitious Eric Ambler meets Curtis Sittenfeld thing, with all the difficult bits spy novels miss out motherhood, emotions other than tense plus all the difficult bits non spy novels miss out spying.

  7. says:

    So far the first 50 pages are disappointing Slow and overly descriptive, a polemical agenda clearly being pushed, not hugely atmospheric of the time nor is there much narrative tension and the characterisation of Laura feels a bit weak I m beginning to skim read already Lovely cover though I will keep trying for a while longer mainly because I read a review somewhere that it begins to pick up later on, hope it does soon.I m up to page 87 and struggling to keep up with so many characters Ok Laura, not too difficult though she s still nondescript Mother Then Florence, Masie, Amy, Joe, Aunt Dee, Giles, Winifred, Ellen, Cissie, Elsa, Miss Spark, Alistair, Mrs Venn, Quentin, Mrs Bertrand, Sybil, Nick, Edward Oh shit I forgot Nina Then this line made me laugh out loud at this first meeting she could only see the set of friends as one cawing mass Indeed Soldiering on thoughThis is not suceeding either as a spy thriller or as literary fiction It s like Call The Midwife but with an unconvincing female character Nice cover though Did I say that already A great idea thrown away.I ve crawled past the 100 page mark More tedious and thinly disguised rubbish and endless BORING domestic detail that is toe curling Nothing happens Endless, endless reported speech, reported action FOR GOD S SAKE WRITE SOME DIALOGUE, SOME SCENES It won t hurt or be less literary When is this spy story actually going to start or any story for that matter Ok Around about page 120 it picks up in fact I ve stopped skimming and am now paying attention The real start of the book If this sustains I may upgrade to 3 stars we ll see.It is improving and so I m upgrading to 3 stars I m genuinely interested though still cautious No, it s really boring again dull cliche scenes of WW2 English upper classes such crashing bores darling plot meandering uninteresting, characterisation very weak Just not worth the bother As I said earlier an opportunity missed by a country mile.How has this writer done it Managed to make a novel about spying to be so fucking boring Laura s life is empty or wait is that the point Terrible Downgrading this to one star.

  8. says:

    I really loved the cover of this book but unfortunately the story did not live up to expectations The story was very slow, with far too many domestic details and very little of the spying A real disappointment.

  9. says:

    V slow Wasn t engaging Disappointed.

  10. says:

    she has been cleverer than all of them, she thinks to herself No one suspects her Valance even thinks that she will work for him, if he needs her Even Mother, even Ellen, even Winifred nobody thinks that she was anything but an innocent wife Her mask has been a good one Has her face stayed intact behind it Based on the life of Melinda Marling, the wife of Donald McLean, A Quiet Life tells the story of Laura Leverett who travels from America to London just before the outbreak of the Second World War On board ship she meets some Communists, including the charismatic Florence in London she pretends to her relatives that she has a secret boyfriend, so as to slip out to Party meetings Then she meets Edward, a sophisticated chap who works at the Foreign Office he turns out to be a spy They marry Now Laura is a spy too Edward and Laura go to Washington after the war then Edward s double life is uncovered, they return to England, and Edward flees his house in Surrey and his pregnant wife.This could have been so much better than it was Laura seems to have little personality and no real direction She overhears various damning comments about herself but, if she s upset or angry, we don t see it She is also oblivious to her husband s homosexuality, and to her own romantic sexual impulses towards Florence and other women of her acquaintance Which is not to say that Edward and Laura have a platonic relationship on the contrary, sex is the glue that holds them together, though it is presented in a transactional way did they both climax Did they climax together Walter may have heard the axiom show, don t tell but she is having none of it Far too many conversations are summarised, rather than given in full in their comments on her, which moved from the admiring to the moralising, they hinted at their own desires After that the conversation led on to other things, but they felt warmly now towards one another This technique makes Laura feel distant I don t know how much of her behaviour is in service of the mask she must present, the pretty silly American wife but there doesn t seem to be anything much behind the mask True, there s a secret that she s kept since her teenaged years I m not sure if the nature of this secret was ever indicated, though I suspect it is something to do with her family, from whom she attempts to distance herself throughout the novel Only once abandoned by Edward is she forced to accept that her mother s fidelity is in fact love it s not clear whether Laura reciprocates at all.I did like the descriptions of wartime London and there are occasional flashes of excellence, like the description of London seen from a fast car rolling past the windows with a kind of emphatic repleteness On the whole, though, I would rather have read an actual biography.I may have missed something much positive review

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