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Without a Backward Glance

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  589 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Christmas Eve 1967: the night the lives of the McDonald children, Deborah, Robert, James, and Meredith, changed forever. Th eir mother, Rosemarie, told them she was running out to buy more lights for the tree. Instead, she boarded a plane bound for London, leaving the children with their father and the gnawing question: Why did their mother abandon them? Over the years the ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Plume Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Sep 17, 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
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.
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.
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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.
Bob Hill
Jul 04, 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?
Brianna Beck
Sep 04, 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
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
Oct 18, 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
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.
May 19, 2010 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.
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.
Jan 06, 2009 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.
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.
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.
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.
Nov 24, 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.
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.
Aug 13, 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
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
Jul 31, 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
Jun 18, 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.
Aug 19, 2011 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
Virginia Markhart
Oct 27, 2013 Virginia Markhart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me so much to think about. The mere thought of a mother leaving her four children on Christmas Eve is beyond comprehension. The story tells about the lives of the four children and their father who were left behind. All four children were affected by the abandonment in different ways. The oldest had to take on the responsibility of caring for the three younger children just as she was entering her teens. this left her bitter. The next had an odd problem. the third child, James, wa ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kate Veitch's debut novel was a struggle for me. The basic premise of the story was good, but she had so many complex characters that it was tough to feel attached or drawn to any one of them in particular. I thought the flow and writing style was a bit disjointed. There was too much dialogue between the characters and not enough storytelling. The characters had several personal conflicts and oftentimes they were briefly mentioned or touched upon, but then left open-ended. It seemed like so much ...more
Dec 17, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys historical fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Paperback Swap
When the four McDonald children's mother leaves them on Christmas Eve 1967, she tells them that it's to get more Christmas lights. Instead, Rosemarie hops a plane to London and disappears for forty years, leaving her husband and children with the burning question: Why?

Over the years, the children become very adept at hiding the feelings of hurt they have at their mother's abandonment; remaining close into adulthood as they start their own families. Until old wounds are reopened by a chance encou
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Oct 05, 2013 Melissa Lee-Tammeus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Awful book. I'm giving up on page 91. I have tried, really - I have been hanging on to this book for three weeks hoping that the ridiculous Leave It to Beaver dialogue will suddenly appeal to me. Good grief, it so does not. I simply can't get past it. I'm even starting to talk (write) like that. Here's some examples:

"I remember those yummy sandwiches you used to make when the boys would get home from school from the pool."

"Were they yummy?"


"Well, she and Laurence get on fabulously, that's for
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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.

Kate splits her time between Australia and the US, w
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