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Without a Backward Glance

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3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  639 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
A deeply felt first novel of family, choices, and coming to terms with the past. On a stifling Christmas Eve in 1967 the lives of the McDonald children-Deborah, Robert, James, and Meredith-changed forever. Their mother, Rosemarie, told them she was running out to buy some lights for the tree. She never came back. The children were left with their father, and a gnawing ques ...more
Kindle Edition, 388 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Amanda
Jul 07, 2008 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lit lovers/people interested in family dynamics
I have to give major points to authors who make me emote as strongly as this one did. Sure, I normally either like or dislike characters or become annoyed with them, etc. But it’s rare that I read a book and completely despise any one character. This book manages this feat with two characters in fact so much so that I was almost just as angry that I couldn’t reach through the pages and scream at one or both of them.

On Christmas Eve, Rosemarie tells her four young children she’s going out to get
...more
Yvonne
Aug 22, 2008 Yvonne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the way the story focused not on the mother who walked away from her family, but on the lives of the children she abandoned. Well-crafted, poignant, and funny. The ending, however, was a little trite.
Ann
Jul 15, 2008 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting look at what leads a person to make the difficult choices in their lives and the repercussions that ripple outward from those choices.
Debbie Lamb
Dec 30, 2016 Debbie Lamb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thought provoking and emotive novel that has me examining my feelings about the subject of motherhood and the associated responsibilities as well as maintaining one's own identity when becoming a parent.

On the one hand, I was angry and frustrated with Rosemarie for abandoning her children on Christmas Eve and not giving a second thought about the catastrophic consequences that would have on her children. On the other, I could see how she was a woman ahead of her time in that she wanted to ret
...more
Jill
Jul 29, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mari
Aug 06, 2008 Mari rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With such an intense topic as a mother leaving her four young children and husband, I would have thought the author may have given more attention to the children's growing-up years. Instead, it felt like there was a big missing piece for me in at least knowing how they *coped* or roughly what all those years from childhood to adulthood were like. It seemed even the mere hints or flavors of all those years wasn't really given to the reader.
Anneobriencarelli
Liked this a lot, even though it's a tough story. Four adults were abandoned by their mother, Rosemarie, when they were young. This intriguing story is told from the perspective of all of the characters, even Rosemarie. Outstanding writing, compelling story.
Lynn
Jul 08, 2017 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating read about family dysfunction and how different members cope with it. After Rosemarie left her family one Christmas Eve and never returned, the loved ones she left behind are forced to deal with their loss, each in their own way. Her husband relies on the oldest child, only 12 years old, who is forced to shoulder responsibilities beyond her years and grows up to be a controlling woman; the other children face issues involving alcoholism, OCD, a passionless marriage and inf ...more
Bob Hill
Feb 13, 2008 Bob Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in family dynamics and human interactions.
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
Why? This question holds open a gaping hole in the lives of a husband and four children for decades after a woman -- his wife, their mother -- gets into the back seat of a car on Christmas Eve, 1967, and disappears, evidently forever and without explanation.

As Chapter One of this fine novel opens, the reader becomes immersed in the twenty-first century lives of the children, now adult, and their aging father, Alex. How have they managed? How have they coped, each one, with this unexplained loss?
...more
Margaret
Aug 11, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thirty year old Rose McDonald looked around. It was Christmas Eve. Her 4 children, the oldest being 13, were bickering, her husband was offering comments on how to prepare the next day's dinner. The Australian heat was adding heat to the kitchen, heat to Rose's emotions. She had only been 17 when she ran off with Alex who was much older than she was. She left her family and her country (England) behind. She is missing the youth she never had. So when a strange car pulls up, she gets a bag and h ...more
Brianna Beck
Jul 21, 2010 Brianna Beck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow.... where to start. This again was another book that I bought for only $4.99. From the first page I was so interested in this novel, and stayed interested for the entire thing, reading at every chance I possibly could. The story and the characters, my goodness she did an amazing job at making you understand them and what they are going through. A mother of four children and an amazing husband decides to abandoned her family with no explanation or warning, and on Christmas Eve of all nights. ...more
Alisa
I am rounding this up from 3.5 stars, but I did truly enjoy this novel. The end was a bit trite, but I appreciated that it was not neatly done, and the characters were still flawed and struggling. I think that Veitch's deft touch provided good detail on the characters while still allowing readers to have their own visceral reactions to each one's follies, weaknesses, personal heartaches, and triumphs. I didn't feel manipulated to cheer for any one character, which is often the case with these ty ...more
Brooke
Oct 09, 2010 Brooke rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book drones on and on, and forces the reader to plod through the characters' boring and fitful lives. Events happen sporadically, which normally would be a good thing, however, in this book the events are of little interest. Things happen and then are not followed up on. The book also jumps around to the various characters too often, without delving much into their lives. We are basically getting descriptions of their daily activities and simple thoughts. The author also wrote the character ...more
Krob
Was this a book for young adults? Although it wasn't marked that way, the narration was very simple. It is the story about a woman who walks out on her husband and four children on Christmas Eve, and the resulting traumas that the four children suffer. It was a little too pat in the end, but the simple narration made this an easy read. I wish that something more interesting happened to the four children.
Cecilyrebecca
Jul 05, 2008 Cecilyrebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at Costco because I was waiting for some other books at the Library. It was pretty much a waste of my time.



Story about a mom that walks out on her family of 4 children on Christmas Eve and how the disfunctional family all deal with this. Too many inappropriate sex scence and a real lack of resolution.
Eliza Genang
Jun 10, 2014 Eliza Genang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook of this and gradually really warmed to it. It might have been too slow or too quiet for me to stick with if I was reading it, but it was a very suitable companion for housework and cooking. And the story was rewarding over time, and had an emotional and psychological honesty to it.
Jennifer
This book tells the story of a group of adult siblings whose mother abandoned them as children and how they come to terms with her reappearance many years later. I loved the complex and quirky characters and really looked forward to reading this book every day. But in the end, I didn't believe this story. I didn't believe the abandonment in the first place, and I didn't believe the resolution.
Kim
Aug 10, 2008 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I sort of read this book. It took me about 3 months to read the first three chapters. After a few minutes I'd get bored with it and put it down. After that long on my coffee table and only getting an eighth of the way into the book I realized it was going nowhere and I gave it to Goodwill. Needless to say I don't recommend it.
Natalie
Sep 20, 2009 Natalie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very slow start to read and by the end it was still disappointing. By the end when the mother meets up with her children again, you would think she would be happy but all she could think about was remembering why she left the kids in the first place and that it was the right decision. I couldn't even imagine a mother feeling that way.
Lindy
Sep 02, 2008 Lindy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At first I liked this book about an Australian family, but quickly grew bored. It was somewhat tedious- the 4 siblings and father dealing with the mother's abandonment of them- but it was nice to read about families in Australia (I guess ;))
kirsten johnstone
fantastic! absorbing and beautifully written from a number of perspectives. i enjoyed the sequence of the story and the occasional flashback to explain past elements of the story to help round out the characters.
thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
Lauren
Jan 03, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this novel, especially lovely during the holiday season as the book begins and ends at Christmas, 40 years apart. The characters were well-drawn, especially Robert (the brother with OCD). I'll keep an eye out for additional titles by Kate Veitch.
TJ
Sep 26, 2008 TJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aussies, anyone whose parent abandoned them and someone with siblings.
Recommended to TJ by: Elise Gustafson
Wow, ahhhh, ummmm, what was UP with that ending? Can anyone please explain it?

I definitely loved the fact it was set in Australia, so I could be reminded of lots of Australianisms etc.
Shelly
Jan 15, 2010 Shelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i put this book down after 60 pages because the writing seemed so trite, and the characters never came to life for me.
Ryan Mcintosh
Feb 15, 2017 Ryan Mcintosh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am a mother of three and there were many times in raising children when I wanted to give up, I never did. The mother in this book walked out on four children on Christmas Eve to never return. Thirty years later only by chance does the youngest stumble upon information about his mother. He meets her and since he was only three when she left he is interested in getting to know her. The other kids now with families of their own are angry until they find out the oldest daughter kept letters the mo ...more
Carmen
Oct 22, 2015 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, the summary:

On Christmas Eve 1967, Rosemarie McDonald walks out the door of her suburban Melbourne home, leaving her husband behind to raise their four children: Deborah, the eldest at almost 13 and default mother; Robert, the compulsive worrier; James the peacemaker even at eight; and Meredith, the perpetual baby. Decades later, the children have forged their own families, but remain trapped in their original roles and are still somehow waiting for word from Rosemarie. When James
...more
Anna
Jul 25, 2008 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Kate Veitch's Without A Backward Glance, Rosemarie McDonald walks away from her husband, Alex, and their four children on Christmas Eve 1967, fleeing their home in Australia to go back to England. Flash forward almost 40 years, and the children are grown and profoundly affected by their mother's abandonment.

Veitch does a remarkable job showing the hurt Rose caused by walking away from her family and showing how this hurt affected the lives of her children--their personalities and their relati
...more
Anna
Jun 10, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pam
Dec 15, 2010 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Friends and Bookclub
Recommended to Pam by: Found on Bargain bookshelf
I enjoyed this book - actually found it in bargain books and took a chance. Turned out to be quite good.
Takes place in Australia and England - starts on a Christmas Eve and ends year's later on a Christmas Eve which was a timely read for me since we are in the Christmas Season.
I thought she wrote very truthfully about relationships and the book held my interest the whole way. There are some Australian words and expressions that a USA resident may not understand but she gives a glossary in the ba
...more
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Angus/Deb relationship 1 13 Jun 12, 2009 10:30AM  
Ask me anything! says author 3 24 Dec 11, 2008 05:01PM  
Without a Backward Glance (In Australia: Listen) 1 6 May 29, 2008 01:43AM  
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Kate Veitch's debut novel was published as LISTEN in Australia, and was a bestseller there and in Germany. In July '08 it was published in the US as WITHOUT A BACKWARD GLANCE. By December, the novel had sold close to 30,000 copies and been nominated as one of American Library Journal's BEST BOOKS OF 2008. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article...

Kate splits her time between Australia and the US, w
...more
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