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Your Blue-Eyed Boy

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  612 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of "Talking to the Dead" comes a haunting novel about a judge whose husband is on the verge of personal bankruptcy and breakdown. As she struggles to shield her two sons from rising tensions at home, a letter arrives that threatens to destroy her public life.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Back Bay Books (first published March 27th 1998)
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Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Your Blue-Eyed Boy is my second novel by Helen Dunmore. I read her book With Your Crooked Heart a couple years back. Dunmore is a poet and although it’s not always the case, her skill with language translates beautifully to prose. She creates captivating and complicated characters, with interior lives that are filled with wreckage and hope.

Your Blue-Eyed Boy is, I think, about ghosts. Simone is a District Judge, married to an unemployed architect, mother to two young sons. Her story is told by l
Roman Clodia
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Your dreams weren't like dreams. They were another life, rippling under the surface of this one, waiting to recapture you as soon as you dipped beneath the skin of sleep.

I've long been a fan of Dunmore but this book, one of her earlier ones, has leapt straight up into prime position as my favourite to date. It's a shimmering, uneasy, shifting narrative that looks like it's heading in one direction before we realise we're somewhere else entirely. This one really got under my skin leaving me qu
Feb 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a silly book.
It's about a judge with a husband and kids who gets blackmailed by an ex from college days. Aand that's about it.

Call me thick-headed but I don't find a thing about this book profound or thought-provoking. Nor am I a big fan of the way it's written.

The lyricism of its lines seems overdone and out of place. There are supposedly sensual descriptions of her boyfriend's smelly armpits and body odour and WEIRD stuff that you CAN'T really make sound pretty. The lead character and
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One heck of a writer! Helen Dunmore's books are darkly beautiful, extremely well-crafted works.
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I was really gripped by this book - quietly threatening, keenly observed, and very loving towards the physical world and the physicality of things. Another review here complains that nothing happens - but actually everything happens - love, sex and death. That's not a spoiler by the way - as she goes on and on about the bog, you can't tell me the sea air wasn't blowing down your collar and telling you to expect a body by the end of the book.
I loved the way that everything wasn't obvious - what
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd hoped for good things from an awarded novelist, this particular book recommended both by a good friend and ee cummings line serving as the title's base. I found it heavy-handed, though, poorly plotted, and anytime it showed any lyrical promise, there was a decent chance the lines would reappear in some form or another later in the book. For instance, variations on the following paragraph appeared at least three times.

Blackmail doesn't work the way I always thought it would, if I ever gave it
Oct 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, so this book was first published in 1999, I'm not sure why I've only just read it, but I took it on holiday this year and really enjoyed the pace of writing.

The story deals with Simone's past, she is presently a judge living in a remote part of England with her husband and sons, the blue-eyed boy of the title is Michael, a boyfriend from years ago who has suddenly re-appeared in her life. Like many of us, Simone did some things in her youth that she would rather forget, that do not fit in wi
Can I give one and a half stars? I didn't like this book, but I did finish it, so that's something. Although I have to admit, after about the halfway point, I skimmed it and skipped over all the flashbacks, so I didn't exactly read the whole thing.

What I did not like about this book:
- It was completely unbelievable. The premise itself was fine, and interesting even, but the way the main character reacted to the arrival of the man from her past, and just the entire last third of the book, was who
Carolyn Mck
Another Dunmore novel I hadn't read. It was very different to others of hers I have read and not as good as most. This novel was tense from the start. I was absorbed in what was going to happen when a man from Simone's past contacts her and sends compromising photos from when they were a couple twenty years before. Simone is now a district judge in the marshy areas of south-east England so her future is at risk. As readers we are made to think that Michael will blackmail Simone but things work o ...more
Schuyler Wallace
As I started this book I sensed muted whimpering about life’s injustices and past behavior. In “Your Blue-Eyed Boy” author Helen Dunmore tells the story of a district court judge in the English justice system who is caught up in struggles centering mainly on her husband’s inability to handle finances. In addition she seems overwhelmed by her judicial obligations, her decision to move the family away from the city, their cold existence in meager housing, her husband’s constant guilt, and with mem ...more
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story of a woman surrounded by men in varying stages of mental disintegration felt like two separate novels. One very straightforward with its feet on the ground, dealing with domestic stuff and an interesting job in the legal profession. The other rather more nebulous, poetically written but sometimes hard to grasp.

I can only admire the way Helen Dunmore writes, the poetic nature of her prose, her ability to make you see the world in a different light with her subtle use of language, part
Helen Dunmore is a very talanted writer. Her prose is absolutely beautiful, very descriptive and a joy to read. There were passages in her book, when she described her relationship with her children and love for them that I have always felt but never been able to put into words. But, when all is said and done, the prose is all this book had to stand on. The plot started very intense, and grabbed me immediatly, but about half way through the book it just stopped and went nowhere. I can relate to ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lannie Waggy
Excellent, evocative story-telling, revealing how women tick - the restlessness we conceal beneath contentment, the growing strength and maturity beneath the weakness and fragility of aging flesh, how deeply we can love and shallowly - the different types of love from youthful lust to maternal love.

'I think you may have loved what embarassed me in myself. And you saw my hardness, which I didn't dare show to anyone else.' p. 250

'I have sucked him, bitten him, swallowed him, sunk into exhausted sw
I have awarded three stars as I love Dunmore's lyrical prose. This slight and somewhat contrived novel is threaded through with luminous prose mostly describing the sea, the sky and the marshes near the house where our heroine Simone lives. The past comes back over an ocean to haunt Simone and is just as summarily dealt with as is her old boyfriend who follows her to England
Margaret McCulloch-Keeble
I'm afraid I thought this had lots of promise but failed to live up to it. **Potential spoilers** I know for an author to take the obvious route or an easy way out isn't always the right course of action, but at one point there's an obvious answer to our heroine's problems but the story goes off elsewhere and I thought the result was dismal.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 rating. This is only 250 odd pages but boy was it slow going. I have many issues with this book. Firstly, it started off a little cliche ridden, then, not only was it exceptionally slow but it was extremely repetitive to boot. Far too descriptive - to the point where it interfered with the flow and I was also slightly repulsed by all the disgusting body smells described throughout the book (and in particular whenever the movement of bedsheets was mentioned.) The timeline was jumping all over ...more
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I admired this book more than I enjoyed it - I picked it up because I've appreciated Helen Dunmore's writing (both novels and poetry) in the past, and I found it as well written and absorbing as I expected. The subject matter was rather bleak though, with the narrator's job as a district judge involving her in stories of acrimonious family breakdown, her husband's near-bankruptcy placing strains on their marriage, and the main plot focusing on themes of psychological trauma & blackmail. The ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Helen Dunmore for a number of years. I chose your blue-eyed boy because the intrigue of the blackmail drew me into the story. It mixed a chilling thriller with that of a domestic story common to our times of a mother struggling to raise her two sons and pay off the debts her husband has incurred through the loss of his business. The story feels quite personal at times as it begs the question can we ever escape from our past? The story became more chilling as I edged towards ...more
Laura Boyes
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one really stuck in my head - the writing that is, not the plot, the writer, or the title etc. but her descriptions of a house by the sea.
The plot, however, is excellent - a WOMAN Judge! She saves her husband - can't remember why exactly and then there is this house she buys - remote, nobody knows them there -that was the intriguing bit, and her descriptions of the landscape around. I can only guess that Dunmore took those landscapes from her own life - it must have been a special place for
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My ninth Helen Dunmore novel and probably the least enjoyable. It started out with great promise, but a lot of the first person memories of the back story are fairly boring. But then there are parts, mainly many long conversations that the author writes so well. Dunmore can really produce her best writing dialogue. The theme of blackmail was quite unsettling. I guess it was meant to, but it left my brain a little scrambled.
Barbara Joan
Some beautifully descriptive writing, but the narrative as a whole felt stretched and although there were some promising moments of menace, they dissipated without really going anywhere.The demise of the ex-lover Michael (who emerges out of the past, apparently intent upon blackmail) is related in a far too clinical way by the main character, which made for a bit of an anti-climax.
Peter Wilson
I am a long standing Helen Dunmore fan but this book was really awful! Reams of flowery descriptions with very little content. The ending is so sudden, it feels like the author just ran out of ideas and came to an abrupt halt.

Extremely disappointing!
Alyson Fair
While I read it, it is not the best book that I have read. Good thing it was a quick read. Blackmail? Not sure there was any. Just characters who can't let go of their past lives, move on and enjoy life.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was haunting, terrible and heartbreaking. I loved it.
Margaret Thomas

It started well and I had high expectations, but then it seemed to become a lot of padding to no real story at all.
Neil Challis
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking,need to follow closely
May 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Phew- this could have been really good. So many unexplored avenues just left untouched.
Angela Davies
Jan 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ploughed through 50 odd pages then gave up, very disappointing.
Sarah Thompson
3.5 stars for this dark and intriguing story.
Orna Ross
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To see Helen Dunmore’s publishers bill her latest novel as a “modern thriller” came as a surprise. Dunmore’s previous fictional outings were psychological studies, characterised by a lush poetic style and a probing insight at odds with the confines of the thriller genre.

It turns out that Your Blue Eyed Boy is not a new departure but a development, brimming with the sensuality and perception that Dunmore fans have come to expect.

True, it opens with the promise of blackmail. Simone is a district j
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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
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