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An Unknown Woman

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  28 reviews
When you look in the mirror and ask the person staring back, Who are you? do you know the answer?

At the age of forty-six, Anita Hall knows exactly who she is. She has lived with partner Ed for fifteen years and is proud of all theyve achieved. They go out into the world separately: Ed with one eye on the future in the world of finance; Anita with one foot the past, a
Paperback, 328 pages
Published March 9th 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  213 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant novel by Jane Davis, winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Award with Half Truths and White Lies.

In her mid-forties, Anita Hall has a nice job. She lives in a lovely old house with her partner in a stable, loving, long-term relationship. Anita seems to have it all, her life mapped out to the last dot. That is until, one night, her house burns to the ground.

Left with absolutely nothing, Anita finds herself a changed person. And, as she stumbles through her grief, sadness and
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I know the author. Don't worry folks, it's an honest review. It's always satisfying when I can be genuinely complimentary about another writer's work, so I'm happy to say Jane Davis has joined Linda Gillard and Laurie R. King as go-tos for a high quality literary read with touches of drama and suspense.

This novel starts with a house fire that leaves 40something Anita (an archetypal 21st-century professional woman determined not to be limited by marriage and kids) facing an identity
Jackie Trimble
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good read in that I was worried it would be all about the main character and her angst of what to do when she second-guesses her life partner. But, instead, there is a twist with her own mother and what her mother's life was like -- and it pulled together very smartly and neatly. I feel fulfilled the way one does after reading a good piece of literature. Thank you, Jane, for the book and the opportunity to read this!
Kate Evans
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's the unexpected events which trip us up. Anita thought she had her life sorted until the fire and then things began to unravel. Because it is so well written, this is a smooth read, but not necessarily an easy one. It asks questions about what makes us who we are and whether we can ever truly know ourselves or others. I enjoyed the seemingly ordinariness of the characters. They could be me, my neighbour, a work colleague. This makes their stories involving and poignant. I will certainly ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: still-unfinished
Just Couldn't finish it
R.J. Lynch
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
A life that has seemed straightforward, lived by someone who understands the odds and has worked out what she wants and how to get it, is thrown into uproar. The protagonists home is totally destroyed by fire. She learns as a result that the relationship she had with her partner was not necessarily the one he would have preferred. Then she discovers that the life she believed she had led as a child with her parents and the life her mother believed they were living are some distance apart. Jane ...more
Julie  Whitley
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love the layers in Jane Davis' characters and story arcs. They unfold like a rose in rich colour and tantalize the senses. The story starts with a fire that destroys the home of Anita and Ed. Not just their home, but the memories that had created their present. Anita felt lost and panicky. She felt drawn to return to her home in Liverpool to recapture a sense of herself. She found more than she bargained and her new knowledge was more threatening than the fire.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story
Davida Chazan
In this intense and moving story, Jane Davis gives us the portrait of a woman whose whole world goes up in flames, both literally and figuratively. Read my review of this fascinating novel here
Margarita Morris
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this exploration of identity, memory and how we see ourselves and others. The writing is rich and smooth and the characters are all easily relatable. I particularly liked Anita's father, Ron, finding him a sympathetic figure with real insight.
Debra Hewitt
Jane Davis is not just good; shes phenomenally good. An Unknown Woman is gutsy, powerful and honest in the best tradition of fiction. A book worth savoring. ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review of " An Unknown Woman"

Anyone who has ever had their lives turned upside down: the roots of their identity twisted into unfamiliar shapes;the certainty of cosy self-narrated life stories infiltrated by doubt; the solidity of feet firmly on ground crumbling away, sucked into quicksand-that is to say, probably most of us, should love the writing of Jane Davis. She tells a well researched and crafted story, has a keen ear for dialogue and an unerring eye for detail. Her characters are real,
Harriet Steel
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
In this interesting novel, the author explores the concept of identity and how our possessions and our environment define what we are.
The main character, Anita, and her partner, Ed, have life organised to their satisfaction. Both are in their forties; Ed has a good job in the City and Anita loves her work as a curator at Hampton Court Palace. They made the choice not to have children and haven't regretted it.
But when their house is destroyed in a fire, the fragility of their apparently perfect
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Crisis comes from the Greek word for decision or turning point. This sums up the premise of An Unknown Woman, when the protagonist Anita finds her life torn asunder after her home burns down. Davis explores the concept of identity as Anita navigates and adjusts in terms of finding a new place, her job as a museum curator, and her relationship with her long term partner Ed. Anita ends up retreating to her parents' house and stumbles upon a secret which changes her perception of her childhood and ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
Received this book for my birthday from friends; signed by the author who's from the same town. It was nice to recognise the places the author mentions; to know exactly what it looks like, how places are connected.

However, the story took a while to actually go anywhere. Also; it's unclear to me what it was I was reading; a story about post-natal depression, about life after the war, about the difference of "country" living vs London life, passionate vs sensible relationships? So many questions
Deborah  Cleaves
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than best sellers.

I undertook a reading challenge that required me to read a self-published book. I found this one and am glad I did. As smooth and sweet and slow as honey, it is far better than best sellers normally are. A story of secrets and omissions revealed and the power they have to remake our vision of who we are and how we should act or react. This is also a story of love amongst fallible and well-meaning people. I recommend this book highly, but be prepared for a roller coaster
Jan Petrie
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The protagonist, Anita, has a settled home life and successful career until a catastrophic house fire changes everything. Left without anywhere to call home, she begins to question everythings she'd taken as give until that point. Gradually more is revelled about her relationship with her long-term partner and her difficult relationship with her mother. A very well crafted and thought-provoking read.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-fiction
I found Anita relatable and I felt for her through all the stuff that she came up against (or that came up against her!). And I absolutely adore Ron. The story had me hooked and I like that not everything needed to be resolved at the end.
May 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
If Im honest I found this book a bit of a challenge to read. Initially I was enticed by the good rating and reviews, I thought the storyline would be interesting, but on the whole it was very predictable, mundain, and not a book I will remember. ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed the writing, nothing much seemed to happen. The promised 'taboo' was a letdown, and the first three quarters of the book felt like a filler.
Sarah Tinsley
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book charting the journey of a middle-ages woman through her own self-discovery. Definitely worth a read.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After a house fire, Anita's life is a total jumble of feelings. She visits her parents and finds a secret which she doesn't know what to do with.
Dawn Gill
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I read this, I emailed the author to tell her just how much it had resonated with me. Immediately on completion I spent quite some time uploading a review that tried to express how I really felt that this novel, whilst being beautifully written and crafted (in that effortless manner that demonstrates great skill!) echoed how I feel about my life and family. It must have been an exceptionally fulsome review, because Kobo deleted it. Since then other people have left reviews and I've told ...more
Alison Cubitt
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Anita, a bright northern lass, who left her roots (and her accent) behind to make it in London, returns after a traumatic event, seeking solace in the comfort of her family home.
But what she finds there, as she unearths a family secret, ensures that life will never be the same again. An Unknown Woman is about identity, belonging and family. Jane Davis is an assured writer and is particularly skilled at characterisations and creating a sense of place. Her sharp observations of modern day
Julie Whitley
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fire that destroys everything, can rip us down to the bare essentials. But what if the foundation of our essentials is not what they seemed? What do we have to build on? This is the essence of Anita's dilemma when the house she and Ed lived in foe seventeen years burnt down before their eyes. A trip home to her parents' home in Liverpool for a little solace brought anything but for Anita, for reasons she would never have guessed.

I thoroughly enjoyed An Unknown Woman. I would read everything
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. How Anita has her life turned on its head and she has to unravel the threads of the past before she can again move forward . Love the way this lady writes!
rated it it was ok
May 18, 2019
Paul Glaze
rated it it was ok
Apr 27, 2019
Virginia Schoenmakers
rated it really liked it
Jun 10, 2019
Jane Crowther
rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2019
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Jane Davis is the author of nine thought-provoking novels. Her debut, Half-truths and White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award and was described by Joanne Harris as A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer. The Bookseller called her 'One to Watch.' She has since published six further novels, These Fragile Things, I ...more

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