Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Separate Beds” as Want to Read:
Separate Beds
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Separate Beds

3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  550 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews

Separate Beds is a poignant and compelling novel from Elizabeth Buchan.

Annie and Tom's marriage is in mid-life crisis. They seem to have everything - a lovely home, rewarding jobs and three healthy grown-up children - but, beneath the surface, all is not well.

Beneath the surface lies a secret guilt which ensures that whilst they live under the same roof, they sleep in se

Kindle Edition, 390 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Separate Beds, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Separate Beds

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Elise Hamilton
Mar 08, 2011 Elise Hamilton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this on 2/22/11. It took a lot longer to read than my usual pace. Way too many pages of a very predictable and boring book. You're told from the very beginning that the eldest daughter (a fraternal twin) has stormed out after an argument with the family and has been estranged from them for years. Throughout the book, there’s much handwringing and wishing she just call, let them know where she is…boo hoo. The narcissistic father, a big wig at the BBC World News, loses his job an ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Sally906 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hens-lit
To outsiders, Annie and Tom are a middle-aged couple who appear to have it all. Tom works for the BBC World Service and Annie is an Admin manager at a nearby hospital. They have a nice house, three grown up children, two of which are no longer at home. They are, however, a couple in crisis. Tom and Annie have been sleeping in separate beds for a while, ever since unnamed dramatic circumstances years before had resulted in their oldest daughter leaving the house and severing all ties with her fam ...more
Alison Wassell
It's hard to imagine how Elizabeth Buchan could have crammed any more topical issues into this novel. Recession, financial crises, hospital superbugs, adult children returning to live with their parents, and the problems involved in caring for the elderly - they're all here. Then there's the disintegrating marriage of the two main characters, the acrimonious custody battle in which their son finds himself caught up, and their missing daughter.
None of this is promising subject matter for a reader
Feb 12, 2011 Alix rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
First, let me preface this with saying that I won this in a First Reads Giveaway. I thought it might be an interesting and timely story...

Well, I was disappointed. I just couldn't get into the book at all. I didn't care about any of the characters, couldn't develop any kind of sympathy for them - and in some cases developed a distaste of reading about them (Tom, especially). Maybe that was the author's intent, but after the 10th chapter, I was pretty sick of the whole thing. The story moved v e
Feb 11, 2011 Myckyee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I like the cover of this book but it’s another one that threw me off the real content of Separate Beds. For some reason, I expected more humour in Separate Beds. That cover strikes me as a bit funny in a 'chick-lit' sort of way - but I don't think it was meant to be that at all. I'm not sure if that's my (wrongful) misinterpretation or more the fault of whoever chose the cover. In any case, what I read was a thoughtful and intense family drama. Despite not being the read I expected this was a gr
Jan 02, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down as I was hooked from the first page to the last. The only reason I allowed myself to put it down, was I hated for it to end. I fell in love with the characters and their personalities. I loved how they began as an indivual piece of a broken puzzle and the journ the author took them on to put them back together. Tom was a broken man due to the loss of a job, a job which had been responsible for his fractured relationship with his wife Annie and children Jake, Emily ...more
Feb 04, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: LJ
Shelves: fiction
I have read all of this author's books and enjoyed them all. I thought this book was particularly good. I felt it honestly caught the emotions and inner thoughts of a middle aged woman dealing with many stresses in her own life and in her family. I think she left things open for a sequel and I hope there is one.
I was so absorbed by this story: I couldn't stop reading. I read a lot and I read fast and furious so sometimes I wake up and I can't remember the names of the characters. Not so with Separate Beds. Here's a review I wrote over at the Book Lovers message board:

Here's the full review from the other site: Separate beds? “Can this marriage be saved?” When I was growing up and kicking my heels in a waiting room, I would always reach for Ladies Home Journal an
Beth Peninger
I had a really hard time being captured by this book. Most of the time it felt very tedious trying to read it. In fact, due to a library check out, I actually put it aside one day and devoured a whole other book while this one sat on the backburner. I was rather relieved to be done with it.
The book isn't bad, per se, but neither did it draw me in. It's the story of a family that has fallen apart and how they are forced to knit themselves back together again. Usually that's a story I love to rea
Terry Lander
Sep 08, 2010 Terry Lander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads First Read - This isn't a genre that I normally read, but after looking at the book details I felt it was an easy situation to slip into for many married couples and thought I would investigate the insinuated mindset of the couple involved.

The story and characters are very strong and it is easy to sympathise with those involved. Readers are instantly aware of the authors writing ability, which is a blend of experience and good imagination. The 'meet the writer' style interview at the
Aug 05, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I finished this book, I felt emotionally drained. And relieved.

Why isn't Buchan more popular? Her books are smart, insightful, how-to-live-during-trying-times books: Revenge of the Middle-aged Woman, The Good Wife Strikes Back, Everything She Thought She Wanted, Wives Behaving Badly---some of my favorite books ever.

Her titles give the impression of cheap, fun lit, BUT let me assure you that they're much more than that. Buchan knows what it means to be human--it's complicated and and sad and
Feb 27, 2012 six rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So the last book I read I went into with high expectations and was disappointed pretty badly. This time, I went in with no expectations at all--even telling myself that if the book wasn't working after 30 pages, I would give it up--and I ended up liking it. It's not a brilliant book, or a life-changing book, or anything like that, but Separate Beds is a book about people, dealing with life, and it was interesting enough to keep my full attention for over 300 pages.

It's not without it's problems.
Jessica Cocita
Jan 12, 2012 Jessica Cocita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Readers will be able to sympathize with the characters in this book on multiple levels. The story is realistically told and adequately conveys the feelings associated with the different hardships without making them seem ridiculous. The end of the book was very predictable; however, since the reader's life could potential mirror the lives of the characters, the predictability and tidiness of the ending become assets instead of liabilities.

The two-star rating is the result of eventual boredom tha
Feb 02, 2011 Naomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really cool book. I was really concerned at first because it was so heavy with everything occurring in the lives of the main characters, from job loss to disinheritence by a daughter, it was depressing. The book turned out to be a really sweet, enjoyable read that was actually uplifting in looking at how the family reacted to the cruddy things occuring in their lives. I was really happy I choose to follow through with this first reads loss and pick it up at the library. I really wish ...more
Dec 16, 2011 Vicki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was interesting in the fact that it tackled the uncomfortable situations we can find ourselves in with a bad economy. But, this book was really slow going and very depressing. I may have enjoyed it more reading it another month than December. But, I thought the whole Mia story line was bizarre and I also felt frustrated that no one spoke about real things that mattered to each other.
Brian Edgar
I came across this author while looking for a John Buchan novel on line. This is a family saga with well drawn characters who have to cope with changes in their lives. It doesn't try to get inside the characters heads much and we don't get much idea of the anguish of losing a job or a relationship or the possibility of losing a child.
This is an easy read that doesn't challenge but entertains.
Aug 16, 2013 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It had a bit to much filler, could have been less, it had the British demeanour throughout, however still a good read. I recommend to others.
I think I may have to read this one because I feel like some essential part of the story slipped through my attention. Very dry and uneventful story.
Nov 26, 2011 Elle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story takes place in England. It is about a middle aged couple who are estranged from one of their daughters. When the novel begins, the couple is found sleeping in separate bedrooms. They have only one adult daughter living with them and they are living their lives in separate orbits. Then the other shoe falls when the husband, Tom, a high level radio executive is made redundant by his job. The dynamic of the relationship quickly changes and the wife, Annie, is left to support the family. T ...more
Lisa of Hopewell
Anyone who has ever had hope in a marriage, or in marriage in general, will love this gem of a novel. In an exceptionally good year for novels, this one is a serious contender for best novel I've read this year. I just hope in the movie version they pick someone actually MIDDLE AGED to play Annie and not just a middle aged guy to play Tom.

The usual "sandwich" story--young adult kids, frail elderly mother, a grandchild and a dog. But with a few twists that I won't spoil. There's Mia. There's swee
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
First let me say I love the illustration on the cover of Separate Beds, a clever application of calligraphy and drawing. Something about this book was easy and familiar to slip into, a warm bath if you will. Yes, that also means it was a bit predictable, but I didn't mind. Every member of the Nicholson family is in the middle of a crisis.

Tom loses his job at the BBC. Annie and Tom have raised three children. Their youngest, Emily, an aspiring writer, still lives at home and needs to get out int
Diane V-R
Jul 17, 2011 Diane V-R rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I needed a change of pace after a few grueling weeks of chilling and gory reading, which left me craving a less stressful read.

Separate Beds is beautifully written with a poignant and touching storyline but it is S.L.O.W. The characters had charm but seemed to lack a certain oomph and spirit. A little explosive drama would have spiced things up, instead the characters were always impeccably polite and quiet.

Overall I enjoyed the book and it did get me thinking about issues we will no doubt be f
Nov 08, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading Elizabeth Buchan's novels for years and loving them and this one is no exception.

A modern family dynamic: Hospital admin Annie tries to keep it all together when her husband loses his job, her woodworking son Jake moves back home with his infant daughter, after his marriage falls apart. Emily, her youngest daughter has dreams of being a writer, but the family's financial circumstances gives her ideas a reality check. Dad's aged mother Hermoine (who is always cruel to Annie) m
Feb 22, 2015 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the novel Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan, the author writes about the changes in the relationships within a family, some that occur gradually and others which happen quickly after one daughter leaves the house. She gives a very realistic portrayal of the emotions and loss of the father who loses his job along with showing what his job had meant to him as a man. The author did an amazing job in dealing with the unique relationship between twins and also its effect on the other sibling in th ...more
Feb 08, 2011 Charlotte rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Separate Beds is an intricately layered book full of family history that is unveiled to us chapter by chapter. Tom and Annie have basically been coasting through their marriage in the last five years. They have said things they can't take back and even their children wonder why they are still together. As they face a financial crisis that many of us can relate to, they try to piece their relationship back together.

Separate Beds was well written, even if the characters are a bit dense at times. I
Jun 01, 2011 Cara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is about the Nicholson's family's struggle to cope with huge changes in their lives. The father (Tom), a top executive, is let go from his job. The mother (Annie) is coping with the loss of her daughter Mia(a twin), who has cut her family off due to differing opinions. The son Jake (the other twin) is dealing with the dissolution of his marriage. The younger daughter Emily struggles with the feelings of rejection and jealousy of the daughter who left the family.

The struggle of this fa
Dec 22, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Buchan comes across better on audio disc than in print. It's pleasant to listen to the articulately crafted fretting and troubles of her ultra-British characters and their muddled lives. But on the printed page, it just felt cloying--which shifted to numbing--which morphed into annoying. Buchan kept returning to the wonderful, spirited years of Annie and Tom's marriage, until the Big Event happens (a daughter severs herself from the family). And recycling the "women get each other, men d ...more
Mar 14, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book didn't pull me in immediately. But I have really enjoyed Elizabeth Buchan's previous books, so I sat down and read for an hour to really get into it. I am so glad that I did, because it is a multi-faceted story that deals with all the ills of our recession struck society, along with the emotional trials of a four generation family forced to live under one roof again. Annie was a great main protagonist, although I got so irritated with her when she stopped going to the hairdresser to sa ...more
Julie M
Audio book. Okay, pretty well written with fleshed out characters who were a little too self- involved. This family's crises had the ring of 'first world problems', although it kept me interested for more than 12 hours, commuting! I grew tired of the British accent---'daw-tah'--(Sara LeFebreve) yet she set the perfect tone for this upper middle class family beset by job loss, divorce/custody, runaway-child and needy grandmother who moves in with an adopted mutt. Buchan could have tied up some of ...more
Jan 05, 2016 Nannette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened
I listened to this in my car every time I was alone over a 4 week period. I did not enjoy the narrators voices but the story captured me. I read other reviews which said that Annie was weak, a doormat in her families lives. Do you know a mother who hasn't been, on some level at some time? I typically loathe weak woman. I didn't find her weak, I found her to be sad about a life she had great hopes for which eroded over time but she didn't throw in the towel. Many would. I think Annie really wante ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Thank You for Flying Air Zoe
  • Lovers And Newcomers
  • All for You
  • Cassie Draws the Universe
  • The Celebrity Shopper (Annie Valentine, #4)
  • Happy Ever After
  • Instances of the Number 3
  • Dearest Cousin Jane
  • So Happy Together
  • The Firebrand (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #3)
  • Tessa in Love
  • Eva Underground
  • Second Honeymoon
  • Sweet Ruin
  • Got You Back
  • Blood Moon (Blood Series, #2)
  • Life In Miniature
  • James Herriot's Favorite Dog Stories
Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books after graduating from the University of Kent with a double degree in English and History. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily – reviewed in the Independent as ‘a gorgeously well written tale: funny, sad and sophisticated’. ...more
More about Elizabeth Buchan...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »