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The Secret to Not Drowning by Colette Snowden - Join the discussion about this novel and the issues around domestic abuse on Monday 28 November, 9 - 10pm

(18 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Oct-16 17:34:20

When The Archers' storyline on domestic abuse became a topic of much discussion on Mumsnet, we invited author and journalist Colette Snowden to write a guest blog on her own experiences. Now, we're giving you the chance to discuss the compelling novel she wrote about living in a violent relationship. The Secret to Not Drowning is a powerful story of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship.

We've got 50 copies of this hard-hitting but beautifully-written book to give away. The author Colette Snowden will then join on Monday November 28 for a webchat to discuss the book and the issues around domestic abuse. Apply now for a free copy.

SkyRabbit Fri 28-Oct-16 21:12:15

I read this book a while ago - it's pretty darn good!
Captures the slow insidiousness of domestic abuse, and the isolation it causes.
Definitely give it a read!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 31-Oct-16 17:42:07

The book giveaway has now closed and we've contacted all those who have been allocated copies of the book. If you're interested to read, do buy a copy and please do join the webchat with author Colette Snowden on Monday 28 November between 9 and 10pm on this discussion thread.

Mindfulofmuddle Wed 02-Nov-16 14:48:47

Thank you for my copy smile Looking forward to getting stuck into it.

Smutlybobs Thu 03-Nov-16 13:24:51

Thanks for my copy. I got it yesterday and decided to just read one chapter before having a pre-night shift nap. Six hours later, I finished the book and never got my nap. I absolutely loved it.
The style of writing captured the insidious nature of domestic abuse so perfectly. The violence and aggression was so matter of fact and normalised and that's exactly how it is. It becomes a part of every day life and accepted, not the huge drama that you might expect from outside the relationship. The feeling of walking on eggshells was strong throughout.
The story is exciting and engaging and I really cared about what happened to Marion. I was rooting for her and I enjoyed the development of her character and other relationships.
Absolutely gets five stars from me.

19sharon Wed 09-Nov-16 14:23:11

My heart goes out to Marion, who is cowed and broken but she is a survivor. The Husband’s bullying habits are suitably depicted (I want to slap his face for him), and no other opinion matters other than his own. The time frame of the novel covers a few months in this couple’s day-to-day life together and opens with a mutual tragedy, which is depicted with tenderness and compassion. This tragedy acts as a wake- up call to Marion. She starts to think for herself and ask herself some questions. A chance meeting with an old friend from school re-connects Marion with her younger self and a friendship (which of course she has to keep secret from her husband) develops. I'm not going to give anything else away and spoil it for others.

This book is written with warmth and humour at times, and in other parts you want to cry for Marion and her sad, sad life. When her husband made her physically eat the flowers, one by one - stalks and all, it made me realise how truly desperate she must have felt. A real page turner.

Isis1981uk Tue 15-Nov-16 12:09:50

I received a free copy through this giveaway and devoured it within 3 days (& with a full-time job & 2 kids, that's quick for me!). I loved how understated it was - Marian's fear was palpable but there were no over the top scenes of physical violence and I found their relationship extremely believable.

I would still like to know if she lost the baby due to something He did or if it was unconnected, but the not knowing almost adds to the book rather than detracts from it. I also liked that her husband was referred to as 'He' - it made him more symbolic and more powerful a character than he might have been had he been called "Roy" or "Nigel"!!

I very much enjoyed this book and it left me squirming and uncomfortable at times. I didn't particularly relate to Marian as she's somewhat pathetic, but I felt that was a reflection of the way her mum treated her all of her life plus the effect domestic abuse may have on a woman who may have been far more assertive earlier on in life but has been chipped away at over the years

Dsiso Wed 16-Nov-16 10:58:29

Thanks for the free copy - Wow! What an emotive book, couldn't put it down. This story is told in first person and follows a woman in her day to day life as she is emotionally abused and bullied by her husband, who doesn't have a name - simply referred to as 'husband' or 'him'. The Secret to Not Drowning shows how the smallest of acts can be the bravest and I liked the main character. It also makes you feel so grateful for the strength in your own relationships.

Anj123 Sat 19-Nov-16 14:51:41

I have just finished the book and really enjoyed it. I liked how the book ended (I won't say, in case anyone is still reading it) although it makes you wonder what happens next. Most of the time the bullying was subtle but it made me appreciate how I'm not in a relationship like that, and how difficult it must be for those who are. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read this.

VicKWhish Sun 20-Nov-16 11:31:59

This is a really clever and involving book. I loved the ending as it was one of those rare ones that didn't leave you feeling short changed.
The title was spot on and I loved one of the character's describe; 'The secret to not drowning...is to get out of the pool before you get too tired to keep swimming'
Other reviewers have mentioned that the husband is described throughout as 'He' which makes him seem more menacing and the episodes of both physical and psychological bullying and abuse are described in such as way as to be both shocking and underplayed which was brilliantly effective.
Mumsnetters will love this book and I look forward to reading more from Colette.

webster147 Sun 20-Nov-16 13:22:34

I've finally finished this beautifully written book, it has had me gripped from the beginning and was incredibly hard to put down. I like that the story is told in first person as it made me feel closer to Marion the main character. Although tense at times it never got too uncomfortable to read. I appreciated the attention to detail as I find I could really put myself into the shoes of the characters.

lottietiger Mon 21-Nov-16 20:02:24

I really enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down . The bullying is subtlety told which I think makes it all the more frightening. You can believe that Marion easily found herself in the abusive relationship before she even knew it. I liked the characters of her two friends and how she came about finding them. The ending was good too and didn't disappoint . A compelling book which I look forward to passing on to my friend.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Nov-16 17:42:08

Thanks so much to everyone for posting up your thoughts on the books so far. We're so pleased to hear you agree that this is such an important and powerful book.

We've decided to start a new discussion thread for the webchat with Colette as we want to the discussion to be open to people who haven't necessarily read the book but have questions about emotional and domestic abuse. We really hope you'll be able to join Colette on Monday (28 November) between 9 to 10pm to discuss the book and let her know what you think. The webchat will take place on this thread.

SnapCackleFlop Wed 23-Nov-16 22:04:12

I really enjoyed reading this book (always a good sign when you fit reading into any little opportunity during the day and finish the book in a couple of days).

I found the book compelling and shocking, well written and upsetting.

In the end I felt frustrated and annoyed with Marion - initially I didn't like the way she left the dog with her husband at the train station and the way she left the place where she had built the new friendships.

Over time I've thought about this and reflected that perhaps this was in intentional. The reader (or at least in my case) cares for Marion but at some stage this spills over into having expectations about how she should act and what's in her best interests. The reader becomes another version of 'Him' and her mother but in fact it's her own autonomy which she desperately needs.

Another good sign is a book which stays with you and issues which keep popping into your head and that's certainly been the case for me with 'The Secret to Not Drowning.'

I was so interested to read the author's guest blog article on Mumsnet after reading the book and I felt this really added to by understanding and my respect for the author.

Mindfulofmuddle Thu 24-Nov-16 21:04:44

I found this to be a well written book. The bullying is insidious and you have a sense of how it must feel to be in this type of relationship. Upsetting but a powerful read, nonetheless.

ElinoristhenewEnid Sun 04-Dec-16 14:48:02

Unfortunately I missed the web chat but thank you for the book.

The book was powerful in the way it was so subtle - there was no real obvious physical abuse (chocolate cake incident was the nearest to physical abuse) but the psychological abuse was very insidious.

Many thanks again for the book

lalamcbride Mon 19-Dec-16 07:45:08

I found that this book was very easily to pick up and read. It was very good at painting a story where the reader could witness the psychological abuse of her husband. It also dealt with other storylines such as mis carriage, death, loss, in a simple but powerful way.

It also showed how important it was to be able to talk to a support be it a friend or someone outside of the family enviroment. Perhaps the author is trying to help women in a similar situation with this subtle advice.

The only part of the book that I really did not like was the ending of the book was the ending when she left the dog with her husband at the train station. I am not sure why the author would choose to not take the one thing that have given her moments of freedom. I also thought it sent out the wrong message leaving a dog with someone who she knew might hurt it. Perhaps this another subtle message that not everyone gets out of these situations??

This book is definitely worth a read, and I would definately read another book by this author. Well done to the author for taking such a serious theme and making the reader understand its impact via one women's story.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jan-17 11:50:05

From Isis1981uk:

I received a free copy through this giveaway and devoured it within 3 days (& with a full-time job & 2 kids, that's quick for me!). I loved how understated it was - Marian's fear was palpable but there were no over the top scenes of physical violence and I found their relationship extremely believable.

I would still like to know if she lost the baby due to something He did or if it was unconnected, but the not knowing almost adds to the book rather than detracts from it. I also liked that her husband was referred to as 'He' - it made him more symbolic and more powerful a character than he might have been had he been called "Roy" or "Nigel"!!

I very much enjoyed this book and it left me squirming and uncomfortable at times. I didn't particularly relate to Marian as she's somewhat pathetic, but I felt that was a reflection of the way her mum treated her all of her life plus the effect domestic abuse may have on a woman who may have been far more assertive earlier on in life but has been chipped away at over the years.

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