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The Secret to Not Drowning

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  26 reviews
How did a girl who dreamed of being a Charlie's Angel become such a cowed and submissive woman? On the surface Marion's life seems fine, but she is controlled and bullied by her husband; her only 'freedom' is a weekly visit to the swimming baths. When a chance meeting with an old school-mate develops into a secret friendship, Marion is reminded of the person she used to be ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published July 2015 by Bluemoose
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  285 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Hannah Young
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
That was so good, I can't breathe.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely cracking read. I'm supposed to be working, but I've just spent the last half hour glued to my kindle because I couldn't put it down.
It's the story of Marion - a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage with a bullying controlling husband. The psychological abuse is well-written and believable - as is Marion's self-justification of it. Highly recommended.
Sophie Houston
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
(Full disclosure - I am a friend of the author.) I bought this as soon as I could from my local bookshop, and wasn't disappointed. A melancholy story at times, it is beautifully written and honest, with strong voices and excellent characterisation. I won't say more for fear of spoiling anyone's pleasure!
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I had forgotten I downloaded this one, and found it on my Kindle right before I boarded a plane back home after Thanksgiving. Didn't put it down until the plane landed. It sucked me into this woman's life, and all the fear, exhaustion, paranoia and anxiety that comes from being in an emotionally abusive relationship was so vividly drawn.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great book. The story of a woman stuck inside an abusive relationship. Wonderfully written. Loved it. Another brilliant book published by Blue moose, who are just so consistently great. Highly recommended.
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This is one those novels that you never want to end. I must express that Colette is a bold marvellous writer. I give full admiration for the incredible attention to the smallest detail.

This is a story within a selfish husband that only looks out for himself. Colette Snowden makes this story come alive through her words.

Marion once dreamed of being a Charlie's Angel. On the surface Marion's friends and family think her life seems fine, but she is controlled and bullied by her husband. He made M
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. This book is very well written. It touches upon such a sensitive topic in such a masterful way that I found myself constantly preparing psychologically for the absolute worse possible nightmare to unfold. I don't think I've ever felt this way while reading a novel and I absolutely enjoyed it, even the stress! An author that manages to make us feel this way is definitely a very talented one. I look forward to her next novel!
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liana Petherick
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very poor ending, such a shame as build up promised more.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The best new book i've read in years. Utterly brilliant.
Deborah Siddoway
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book started with one of the most intriguing sentences to a book opening that I have read in a while: 'There are four people in the room and only one of them is me'. I paused when I read it, tried to contextualise it and realised that I couldn't. It was only when I got to the end of the book that I realised the power of that first sentence.

There is a cold familiarity to Marion's story, that of being trapped in an abusive relationship, afraid to be herself, afraid to upset the fragile equili
Judy Halls
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this straight through in an afternoon as I was immediately drawn to Marion and wanted to find out whether she got out of the abusive relationship or not. The author has an amazingly light touch for a distressing subject, it was as if Marion was detached from her situation and looking at it from an outside point of view. That was effective as it added credence to why she would stay with Him (her husband) as the way she'd coped was to detach herself from the reality of her life. It also stopp ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I don't know why but I really liked the main character in this book and I liked all the nice and supportive minor characters along the way. I could have done without all the side stories about her husband's affairs. The ending wasn't very believable but super satisfying at the same time. (Read Harder Challenge: read a book published by a micropress--Bluemoose Books)
Barbara Hudson
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Superbly written and psychology absolutely convincing. But a gruelling read. Unrelenting. I found the strange side stories about the husband's imagined affairs a distraction, and I found some of the repeated-for-emphasis statements annoying.
I will be keen to read her next novel.
Orla Owen
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book - superb writing and editing. Very tense reading it, worried what might happen. Would really recommend.
Robin Harris
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2017-reads
Possibly the best book I've read in 2017. Superb, powerful writing and a satisfying ending. Loved it.

More of the same please..
Irene Brew
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing

To say this was beautifully written would be a bit of an understatement. Colette Snowden certainly has got the knack of writing quiet, understated terrifying scenes. I really can't remember reading anything quite so shocking as the pink gerberas for a long time - it just sucker-punched me.

I liked the way that Snowden didn't give the husband a name (if she did I missed it) - I wasn't quite sure of the capitalisation of "He" - was it that "He" was the name Marion gave him? That He was a sort of Go
Karen Angelico
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story is told in first person and follows a woman in her day to day life as she is emotionally abused and bullied by her husband. The device used by the author whenever Marion talks or thinks about her husband is to refer to him as "He" or "Him" (we never know the actual name of the husband's character). This is a clever device - and tells us immediately what Marion feels about her husband without saying any more - however after several pages of it I thought it might get on my nerves for th ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An intimate portrait of a woman in crisis. We meet Marion at a point in her life where, in her mid-thirties, she is completely in her husband’s grip. After years of his control and casual cruelty, her lack of self-belief hits rock bottom as she accepts the baby she was carrying has died because nobody would want to live with her. But despite the buffeting of marital abuse and miscarriage, Marion’s personality is not entirely extinguished and over the course of the novel she seeks to retrieve the ...more
Jo Marchant
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am left puzzled by the ending in a very good way, I want to know what happens next and that is the genius of the book. A really good read, a quietly told story but incredibly powerful and moving. I have been left thinking of this book and I feel it may stay with me for a long time. It is the mental abuse and not necessarily the physical abuse of a normal woman, both by her mother and her husband. This about dominant and recessive personalities and controlling people who choose easy going peopl ...more
Writers' Centre Norwich
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brave-new-reads
Marion can’t do anything without Him knowing. Her only escape is her weekly swimming trip, but soon she’ll learn that taking the plunge creates far-reaching ripples. An intimate and immersive glimpse into emotional abuse, The Secret to Not Drowning shows how the smallest of acts can be the bravest. Take a chance with this compelling and quietly wonderful novel.

The Secret to Not Drowning was chosen by readers to be part of Brave New Reads 2016, out of a longlist of more than 120 books. Find out m
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A slow burn of a study of control. Beautiful writing with everyday lives made vivid and hurt across Marion's life defined in her cooking and her weekly salvation at the swimming pool. When she learns the art of friendship she changes and emerges to challenge her domineering husband. Highly recommended.
Kevin Duffy
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully insightful, human and sometimes amusing look at how one woman became subsumed in a controlling relationship. It is unflinching, human and superb. The characters are all extremely well drawn and I highly recommend this book.
Sue Corbett
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Taylor
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good, couldn't put it down. Easy read. I did wonder mid way through if I'd got the characters wrong and He wasn't so bad, so well written, a must easy summer read
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, I didn't want this book to end
rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2016
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Sep 05, 2017
Rose Jones
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May 30, 2017
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Oct 20, 2020
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Is it really viable to make emotional abuse an offence? 1 6 Jul 14, 2015 06:28AM  

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A writer since I was old enough to talk, I have dabbled with performance poetry and short stories before setting to work on my first novel, The Secret to Not Drowning.

My short story, 'Blue' was featured on radio 4 in 2002 and I then stopped writing for several years, focusing on raising my children.

I continued to write for a day job during this time, with feature articles and news stories for trad

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