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Mourning Ruby
Helen Dunmore
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Mourning Ruby

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  429 ratings  ·  66 reviews
More than thirty years ago, a mother laid her newborn baby in a shoebox and left it by the bins behind an Italian restaurant. Now the baby, Rebecca, is a mother herself, and she and her husband, Adam, are about to experience the greatest tragedy parents can face. Like a Russian doll, this novel opens to reveal a brilliant richness of stories locked within. This is a story ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Viking (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 720)
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This book is both one of the best I’ve read in a long time and quite disappointing. The excellent part has to do with Rebecca and Adam’s loss of their daughter—and the author treats the subject with sensitivity and heart-wrenching realism. The disappointing part is that a considerable portion of the last half of the book is a short story written by a friend of Rebecca’s. I always feel a bit cheated when an author slips a basically unrelated story into a narrative (A.S.Byatt does this as well). I ...more
Heather Wilson
This is a rather frustrating book to me. On the one hand, the writing (in the mechanical sense - sentence and imagery, etc.) is lovely and sometimes breathtaking. On the other hand, the actual story is disappointing. I am not one who requires plot-heavy stories to be satisfied with a book, but I do require something that at least connects in meaningful ways. This one, for me, just didn't.

The phrase "the sum of the whole is greater than its parts" comes to mind here, except in the case of "Mourn
This book describes the agony of a parent losing a child, of grief and not letting go. In Western cultures, we'd grieve and then tell another person "to get on with it" if the grieving is prolonged. An Asian person would be able to understand how the dead continued to live on.

The first section of the book was warm and sorrowful. Dunmore's style is fluid and evocative - her characters are real people. However, the sections of the book in which Joe's writing is included are weak. I kinda understa
J.C. Greenway
The first part of this book had me so gripped I couldn't sleep, as former abandoned child Rebecca and her husband Adam mourned the loss of their only daughter. But part way through it became a thoroughly weak tale written by Rebecca's friend Joe, from where it descended rapidly into cliche and plot 'twists' heralded from a mile off.

At one point Dunmore so lost interest in telling the rest of Joe's 'plucky prostitute in love with doomed WW1 airman' story she continued it as notes. The best part
Helen Maltby
I didn't really enjoy this book. The first section was the better bit, although as the mother of children around Ruby's age I found it very hard to read, and I did cry quite a bit. But then it went into Joe's story that he was writing and it lost its way. I'm sure there was supposed to be a connection but to be honest I got to the stage where I just wanted to get it read and move on, so I didn't spend to long trying to make those connections.

It felt like a muddled book with too many ideas.
The story of a couple mourning the loss of their daughter has been done many times and is usually predictable. This story was predictable to a point...

Rebecca, mother of 4 year old Ruby, was left in a shoebox as a newborn outside an Italian restaurant. Not much of Rebecca's story is told, but it is assumed that while not an idyllic childhood, it was not horrible either. While little is revealed of Rebecca's past, the story of how she was found and later adopted weighs on Rebecca's mind. She has
At first I really enjoyed this book. Dunmore's writing style is beautiful. However there just seem to be so many storylines packed into quite a short book and I ended up feeling disappointed by the end as none of them seemed to come to any sort of ending. It felt too fragmented for me and I ended up feeling a little confused as the book went from one storyline to another without giving you time to really 'fall in love with' the characters.
Carolyn Mck
I can always rely on Dunmore to give me substantial reading satisfactions. She writes well, is interested in character and relationships and usually includes a historical perspective. She has interests in Cornwall (where many of her novels, including this one, are set), in Russia (the setting of her historical novel, The Siege) and in writing and literature. Combining these three elements doesn’t work as successfully here as in some of her work (her links to Russian history don’t link well to th ...more
Linda Lipko
How does this happen? How can an author who writes such stellar books such as The Seige write a dud like Mourning Ruby.

One hundred pages into it and I quit, counted my loss and moved along. It was good enough to keep hoping that it would get better. Alas, I was tricked.

Checking other reviews, I find the same thoughts as mine, ie too many plots, too many images that float all over kingdom come, too much rambling and way too much convolution.

A tragic loss of a five year old child is a substantial
Another Dunmore. Another good read. I happen to fall into the camp of readers who love Dunmore.
Anita Kelley Harris
Mourning Ruby is more or less about a mother who is grieving the tragic loss of her five-year-old daughter. But the "more or less" part cannot be overlooked. If it weren't for the title and the ominous cover picture featuring a little girl skipping in the leaves in a red dress, the reader would have no idea what this book is about for quite some time. It begins with a prologue that is a dream sequence, told in the first person, of the narrator--Ruby's mother Rebecca--and Ruby walking along a roa ...more
Abandoned in a shoe box outside an Italian restaurant, Rebecca grows up to be an uncertain adult, aware of the histories others carry around with them and conscious of the gap in her own life story. She lives for some years in a Platonic relationship with Joe, a popular historian researching Stalin's life, before she meets and marries Adam, a neonatologist, with whom she has Ruby, a child on whom she showers all the love she lacked in her own childhood. But when Ruby is killed in a car accident ...more
I love Helen Dunmore novels! She is a master of characters and history. This story deals with grief, how we all handle it so very differently. It also deals with love and the many facets of that emotion. In telling the story, the author reveals so much history by having one of the characters writing about WW I and telling the story within this story. I loved the book.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Moseley
Some parts of the book were brilliantly written,in particular the relationships between Rebecca and other people and the way in which grief affected the parents and Joe. The story,however,written by Joe of which we had several excerts appeared unconnected to the rest of the book!
Read this ages ago and can't really remember it, but wrote that it was disappointing and scored it 6/10. Which doesn't quite match cos I now think 6/10 is quite good!

Well. I can't remember it, so that tells me it was bland.
Honestly mad at myself for wasting days of reading on this book. It was SO DISJOINTED for one. All of these different story lines none of which came to any conclusion!!!!! Horrible read. Very frustrating.
I hate it when you end a book more confused then when you start it. I just didn't get this one. Couldn't follow the characters, or the line of thinking, and never really could get into the style of writing. It's 2 stars because I finished it and hoped the ending would redeem the whole thing. But it didn't. At all.
I did this as a book on CD, listening as I traveled about town. It was both compelling and dissatisfying in the way that real-life is. I wanted to continue the book as I really wanted to know what was going to happen in their lives. Yet, it was dissatisfying as it seemed to meander on and on with little resolution. As I write this I find myself thinking that, indeed, real-life is just like that, and perhaps the author has captured that well. However, having said that, I also know that we readers ...more
It started well, a very moving narrative illuminated by interesting circumstances and whole characters, describing a grief I sadly know all too well. Then it took a turn I am perhaps too much of a dullard to appreciate and a new and much less engaging tale was told, before an all too brief return to the starting thread. I am sure the diversion was purposeful in both its presence and construction, but I found the lurching difference in style and content too difficult to integrate. Helen Dunmore i ...more
I loved it until the last few chapters which seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the story. Disappointing end.
Enjoyed the first part of this book but after that it just seem to lose the plot.Very disappointed.
Oct 23, 2011 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy beautiful prose and character study
Recommended to Judy by: Chremajora
This is a beautifully written story of love, loss, mourning, and recovery. The few individuals that are focused upon in the story felt unique to me, unlike many other characters in other books or in real life, and yet they did feel real and believable. It was a heart-breaking but beautiful story. I don't think I would say it is at all plot-driven, there's only a little in the way of actual plot, but the prose is lovely and the characters and settings are memorable. I'm very glad to have read thi ...more
I read "The Siege" by her a while ago, so I saw this book for sale at the library and thought I'd give it a go too. Perhaps it was not such a great idea, as it deals with the accidental death of a 5 year old and the effect of this event on her mother, not exactly uplifting, and certainly tear-jerking. I'm sure I'll be a more paranoid mother now thanks to this book. Still, it was well written, if not quite as fascinating as "The Siege", a book which deals with the closing off of Stalingrad during ...more
Kathy Yezbick
Too many story lines to flow. Very disjointed.
I loved the main story and the main character. The tragedy is made just bearable with the love felt and expressed. I did not care as much for the stories within the story, especially the second one. Although thinking about it, maybe it illuminated our understanding of the storyteller more than it was meant to illuminate us in general. The description of intimacy in marriage is brief and wonderful--expressing the closeness and mystery without unnecessary technical detail.
Another audio book! I have always liked Helen Dunmore's books. They explore difficult subjects - in this case the death of a child, as well as the hardships and deaths of the first world war - but with believable characters and hopeful endings. This book is also about layers of stories including Stalin's wife and trapeze artists. It has some magical ideas like aeroplanes that give birth to baby planes in the sky. Not all the ends are tied up but that was okay. A good listen!
some excellent writing and ideas, and interesting that the book comes to be about so much more than the loss of the child ruby. BUT there are at least 2 too many strands, and i found it very distracting to be say, 2/3rd of the way in and suddenly to be presented with new characters and to be expected to transfer my interest to them (especially when in one case they are fictional - part of a novel of the 'real' characters is writing). ending severely underwhelming too.
Mar 20, 2011 Ruby is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ruby by: my mother
The books starts off well, with a sad story of how a young girl is abandoned by her mother soon after her birth, in a shoebox behind an italian restaurant. The shoebox and its pricetage are the only pieces of the narrator's mother that she has to this day.
The story is building to a climatic scene as the title suggests that the narrator's daughter Ruby- my owen name too!- will soon be lost in some way, however that has not yet been revealed.

~Enjoying it so far!
Denise Cowling
thought it started off well. then the plot went watery. Bit disappointed. :(
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I was born in December 1952, in Yorkshire, the second of four children. My father was the eldest of twelve, and this extended family has no doubt had a strong influence on my life, as have my own children. In a large family you hear a great many stories. You also come to understand very early that stories hold quite different meanings for different listeners, and can be recast from many viewpoints ...more
More about Helen Dunmore...
Ingo (Ingo, #1) Tide Knot (Ingo, #2) The Deep (Ingo, #3) The Crossing of Ingo (Ingo, #4) The Siege

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