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Untying the Knot

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Marrying a war hero was a big mistake. So was divorcing him.

A wife is meant to stand by her man, especially an army wife. But Fay didn't. She walked away - from Magnus, a traumatised war veteran and from the home he was restoring: Tullibardine Tower, a ruined 16th-century castle on a Perthshire hillside.

Now their daughter Emily is getting married. But she's marrying someon
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published August 28th 2011
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I err towards understatement here by saying it was a good day when I discovered this author. This is my third novel of Ms. Gillard's and like the other two, it is a gem. This title gave me more angst than the preceding two, but my 'discomfort'/apprehension was counterbalanced by the tale's humanity and humor. This novel was powerful, splendid, enriching, edifying, and yes, pleasurable (when I was not experiencing the angst)...and so much more. Off to read another of hers!!
Apr 09, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it
If you have read other novels by Linda Gillard you know that she is an advocate for the understanding of the kinds of mental illnesses that are not severe enough to prevent a person from living in society, but perhaps for that very reason, add additional stress onto anyone thus afflicted. In this book, which is also and I would say primarily about enduring love, the author tackles the important issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and she does a wonderful job.

The main protagonists in
Dec 15, 2011 Angie rated it liked it
Shelves: good-uns
I love this cover. It has all kinds of interpretations once you've read the book, and I've enjoyed contemplating all of them after the fact. Linda Gillard's novels have become comfort reads for me when I'm looking for quietly moving stories with a hefty amount of substance to match the touching moments. I would not categorize any of them as "cozy" reads. There's far too much pain and history in them for that. Rather they are meaningful and full of thoughtful explorations and characters whose fee ...more
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
Oct 23, 2012 Lindsay (Little Reader Library) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romantice
'We set each other free, free to prove we could live without each other.'

Untying the Knot is a beautiful, character-driven novel, depicting the devastating consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting from a life spent in war zones, making bombs safe. Magnus has been severely affected by his former role, traumatised by flashbacks and scarred by horrendous memories, and his now ex-wife Fay has borne the brunt of his erratic behaviour until one day she could take no more, and she fina
Sep 12, 2013 Lynne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, kindle
This is the first book I read on my new Kindle - I was eager to read this one after having read Linda's earlier novels. I wasn't disappointed and quickly became engrossed in both the storyline and the characters. So much that I had to stop every now and then because I became so involved with the main characters I found it emotionally exhausting!! I love Fay and how she deals with what life has thrown at her - and felt like slapping Magnus! - as likeable as he is! I think he is now my favourite ...more
Mar 27, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about Untying the Knot. Sympathetic characters; a good, solid story; lots of interesting, entertaining plot twists; and a satisfying resolution, not to mention very well-written. This is the second book by Gillard that I've read in the past few months. I'm really glad there are still several more by her available on Kindle. Highly recommended!
Oct 03, 2011 Holly rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, ebook
To forty-something divorcee Fay McGillivray, people said it would get better, and in some senses, it has. Divorcing Magnus, her army veteran husband, allowed her to move full-time into their Glasgow apartment and focus on her art. Now showing and selling her textile pieces on a regular basis, Fay couldn’t be a more successful artist. But going on six years from their split and other men later, why does she still feel so incomplete? With Nina, Magnus’ girlfriend, living with him at Tullibardine ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Ali rated it really liked it
I was first introduced to Linda Gillard when Linda gave some brilliant talks to groups of bookcrossers of which I was one, a few years ago. I read her novels A Lifetime Burning and Emotional Geology around this time with enormous enjoyment. I was responsible for introducing these books to my mother and her friend who loved them too, before later reading Star Gazing and kindle book House of Silence. I have to admit to having had Untying the Knot on my kindle for a very long time – since soon ...more
Mar 27, 2012 LindyLouMac rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
I have been a fan of Linda Gillard since I first discovered her writing in 2007 and I have enjoyed each and every one of them. For me the most exciting thing about starting her latest novel is the not knowing exactly what you are going to be getting within the pages. So far with each new title she has changed tack somewhat in her writing style and I suspect this is why she does not conveniently fit a publishers mould.

Untying the Knot, met all my expectations, except for the cover which I somehow
Gloria Antypowich
Sep 30, 2013 Gloria Antypowich rated it it was amazing
Fay and Magnus Gillivray, in spite of and because of all their flaws and humanness totally captured me. Magnus Gillivary, who spent the years of his productive life working with an Explosives Ordinance Disposal team, came back from the Falklands War with PTSD.

Fay had spent their entire married life wondering if the man she loved would return home alive from his periodic deployments but she stood by her man.

This story has so much depth to it; a love that survives all; mental illness, even divorc
Sep 18, 2011 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
Just finished this one, and must confess that I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Linda's other novels. I'm still not entirely sure what disengaged me - Fay has a clear strong voice, I enjoyed her as unreliable narrator, and Magnus was equally well drawn in his complexity. Emily didn't convince me as much, or the ex-mother in law, and there were times when I had stronger sympathy for Magnus' girlfriend than anyone else. The exploration of PTSD was - although I knew little about it before - ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Antoinette rated it really liked it
Recommended to Antoinette by: Angie
Shelves: 52-for-2012
An amazing, gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching, well written book. That's all I can say except don't be fooled by the brevity of this review... It's just that much of a punch to the soul.
Tahlia Newland
Aug 03, 2012 Tahlia Newland rated it it was amazing
Title: Untying the Knot
Author: Linda Gillard
Genre: contemporary fiction

Untying the Knot is another deeply moving and skilfully executed novel by Linda Gillard. I am totally in awe of this author. Once again, she had me committed to her characters and caught up in their lives from the first few pages, then weeping for joy at the end.

Essentially, this novel is about the hidden cost of war. During a war soldiers are in the public eye and in our thoughts, but afterwards, most of us think no more abo
Joanne D'arcy
Sep 07, 2011 Joanne D'arcy rated it it was amazing
Fay and Magnus share a past even in the present.

Fay and Magnus share a daughter.

Fay and Magnus share the fact they have both saved each other’s lives.

Fay and Magnus share their love for each other.

But Fay and Magnus are divorced and for one of them, there seems to be no turning back.

This is the fifth novel by Linda Gillard and it certainly lives up to previous ones. Published straight as an eBook because publishers seem to have money signs in front of their eyes and not good quality writing t
Dec 12, 2012 Hilary rated it liked it
This novel has a superb premise, and a wonderful sense of place - or rather places, as the action takes place in Glasgow, as well as the Perthshire countryside. It is the intensely moving and emotionally charged story of the lifelong love between army veteran Magnus and Fay. Only, through Magnus's PTSD and the rigours of his self-prescribed cure of restoring an historic tower house, their marriage is strained to breaking point and they part. It takes a whirlwind succession of dramatic events, ...more
Barbara Mitchell
Sep 23, 2011 Barbara Mitchell rated it it was amazing
Untying the Knot is a Kindle book, my first since I bought the Kindle, and though I'm not excited about the Kindle, I'm very excited about the book. Full disclosure here: although we have never met in person, I consider Linda Gillard a "virtual" friend and I have enjoyed all of her previous books set in Scotland, her home, so I bought this one fully expecting to be just as pleased with it. I was right.

Gillard has a talent for creating fully realized characters that the reader comes to care about
Sep 19, 2014 Paulette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paulette by: L Gillard
My second book by Linda Gillard and boy did it hook me, just as Emotional Geology had.

Magnus, a hero! Working as a bomb disposal officer in the army, he puts his life on the line on a daily basis. What brings a man to want to do so? The need to be brave to prove himself worthy of loving or to rebel against a father in the demolition business? The strain brings a destruction of its own in the form of PTSD. Magnus hopes that rebuilding Tullibardine "Tully" Tower will help him rebuild his life, ins
Diane Will
Sep 19, 2014 Diane Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scottish-based
This is the 6th book by Linda I have read and enjoyed. A very touching subject matter dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how Fay and Magnus coped (or didn't). They were married and had a daughter, Emily, but divorced. Magnus tries to deal with his illness by taking on the renovation of a ramshackle of an old castle Tullibardine Tower, but Fay can't cope with this and walks away. She now spends her time creating textile pictures for people, including one for her ex-mother-in-law ...more
Jan 29, 2012 Lucy rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
I seem to be making a lot of Linda Gillard related postings recently don't I? There's no particular reason. I like Gillard's work, and 3 of her books are only available on Kindle so once I got my Kindle they were pretty much top of my list of stuff to buy (it helps that they are cheap too!). This is one of those 3 (The others I have already reviewed; House of Silence, and, A Lifetime Burning).

I must admit as far as Linda Gillard books go I found this one a little to predictable. I guessed early
Hazel McHaffie
Oct 29, 2012 Hazel McHaffie rated it liked it
I reserved this one as a Kindle holiday read in Italy. I'd really enjoyed A Lifetime Burning and had high hopes for another book by the same author. Fay struggles to cope with the rages and mood swings of her war-hero husband, Magnus. Buying Tullibardine Tower, a ruinous 16th century tower house on a Perthshire hillside, may be an aid to his healing but it proves the final straw for Fay, and she leaves him. When their daughter announces her engagement, Fay and Magnus are thrown together again, ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
Untying the Knot is my 4th Linda Gillard novel and I loved it just as much as the first 3. This is the frustrating story of Fay and Magnus and their undying love for each other. After finishing the book I completely understand the title - Fay and Magnus are never-ending in their attempts to "unty the knot" of love that binds them to each other. I yelled at them the whole way for being so stubborn and so afraid of letting themselves love the other. Fear has been a reoccurring theme in Linda ...more
Jo Barton
Sep 05, 2011 Jo Barton rated it it was amazing
Take a damaged war hero with a vulnerable ex-wife, add to an impossibly romantic Scottish tower, mix together and out comes this beautiful and tender love story, written by an author who has a real flair for storytelling, and who quite simply makes a story come alive.

There’s always an air of trepidation when a favourite author brings out a new book, and a fear that it won’t live up to expectations. Not the case with Untying the Knot, in fact I think that Linda has surpassed herself with this on
Aug 15, 2012 Ali rated it it was amazing
Linda did it again - her writing is so lovely - I can't even pin point what it is exactly but she sets a scene so wonderfully that you really feel like you have fallen into the pages of the book. The characters are written with such dimension that you feel like they are friends, or people you know. I don't think this is writing you can learn - this is naturaly talent.
This book has Linda's usual theme of romance running through it and the real ups and downs of life, along with the topic of post t
Ann Roberts
Sep 02, 2014 Ann Roberts rated it it was amazing
'Untying the Knot' is a compelling story of love, obsession and tragedy, into which is woven the horror of PTSD. Linda Gillard has portrayed this distressing affliction with truth and compassion, and taught me more in the telling than I ever knew. But, equally important, balancing the horror is love – strong and healing.
The honesty of Linda Gillard’s writing leaves the reader feeling – every time – that she knows the tangled emotions, the various ways in which we imperfect humans try to deal wi
Nov 19, 2011 Alison rated it liked it
Enjoyed this but didn't warmed to the characters quite as much as I normally do in Linda Gillard's novels. tying together the restoration of an old Scottish tower, needlework, post traumatic shock disorder and some very complicated family affairs, the storyline kept me enthralled. Once again Linda Gillard paints a flawed but beautiful male character in Magnus and I loved Jessie, but never really connected with Fay, in fact I found her rather snobbish and unloveable. I felt the other characters ...more
Sep 24, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This was a very well-written, angsty book (albeit with some humor), not at all what I was expecting when I read the blurb. Much messier than I think an American version would have been. I wish the author had shown a few flashback scenes of when Fay and Magnus met and got married, so I would have understood better their undying love for each other. And despite (or because of) Gillard's accurate, heart-wrenching portrayal of Magnus' PTSD, I wasn't sure there was any guarantee he and Fay could make ...more
Kate Millin
Jan 13, 2015 Kate Millin rated it it was amazing
I think this is the best yet of all of the great books that Linda has written. It covers a difficult topic of mental illness in a caring but clear way - and I went to be early last night to make sure I could finish it as I wanted to find out what happened to all of the characters and couldn't bear to put it down again. The Scottish setting adds an extra element to the story - and the information about about how PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) affects suffered and their families was ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Joanne rated it it was amazing
Having read all Linda Gillard’s other books, I knew I was in for a treat with Untying the Knot. Linda Gillard is an author completely in control of her material, with an innate understanding of how to present a narrative to the reader. To me, this is a very grown up type of love story, taking apart the destruction of a marriage, and exploring whether two people who clearly should be together can manage to make their relationship work. All of Linda Gillard’s characters are, as ever, perfectly ...more
Sep 06, 2011 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Another triumph by Linda, very different to her other 2 I have read, but that appears to be her forte, creating these very distinct people and places that capture you and draw you in, until you're not just reading a book, but meeting friends and learning of their lives!
A much more challenging book than Star Gazing, with a much different hero, but all the more rich and satisfying for it, Untying the Knot will stay with me a long time!
Jenny Stewart
Oct 02, 2014 Jenny Stewart rated it really liked it
Linda tackles a difficult subject matter here: loving someone with PTSD. This is part mystery (the unravelling truth of the family history) and part adventure (flashbacks of war and bomb dismantling). Through it all she creates realistic human characters who possess the full depth of human emotions both honorable and selfish. Linda really has a knack of developing likable characters. I found the structure to be a bit confusing at times, hence the 4 stars.
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Linda Gillard lives in Ayrshire, Scotland and has been an actress, journalist and teacher. She’s the author of eight novels, including STAR GAZING, short-listed in 2009 for "Romantic Novel of the Year" and the Robin Jenkins Literary Award, for writing that promotes the Scottish landscape.

HOUSE OF SILENCE became a Kindle bestseller, selling over 20,000 copies in its first year. It was selected by
More about Linda Gillard...

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“summer ends and autumn begins. The trees retract their sap in a hurry and the resulting bright colours must be a panic-stricken response to the sudden withdrawal of that life-blood. Because the sight's so beautiful, you forget what this gorgeous display actually represents. Decay and death. If only human death were so glorious.” 3 likes
“I poured myself another glass of wine (white, now warm and disgusting, but I was in a masochistic mood)” 2 likes
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