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The Other Mrs Walker
Mary Paulson-Ellis
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The Other Mrs Walker

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,583 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Somehow she'd always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name...

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat, on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the carpet. A f
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Novalinnhe Rowe Is this question asked sarcastically? If yes, I like your style because I found the repetition of that annoying too - but if no, then the author talks…moreIs this question asked sarcastically? If yes, I like your style because I found the repetition of that annoying too - but if no, then the author talks about the red coat being stolen a considerable number of times throughout the book and it is returned to its owner during the final act of the book. (She steals another coat from elsewhere to replace it.)(less)
Novalinnhe Rowe
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3.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,583 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read a book you didn't enjoy but had to finish? This is one of those books. So I congratulate the author for creating a narrative with enough questions to keep me ploughing on. Upon completion I feel unsatisfied and a little let down. Not due to a lack of 'happy ending' more due to a big fat feeling of 'so what?'. Whithout giving away the plot, this story left me frustrated with the central characters' lack of resolution, even in their own minds and lives. Endings don't have to be ...more
Felicity Price
Jan 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An old lady dies alone and with no identification papers in a cold Edinburgh flat in the middle of winter. A middle-aged woman, Margaret Penny, arrives in Edinburgh soon afterwards. Her life in tatters, without any money or a job, she finds temporary work tracking down the paperwork of the deceased. How likely is it that the dead old lady she is sent to trace, a Mrs Walker, is actually closely related? Unfortunately, this central premise to The Other Mrs Walker is such an unlikely coincidence th ...more
I certainly found this debut novel an absolute page turner. In fact it's been quite a while since I sacrificed sleep to finish a novel but the narrative certainly won out last night. There were so many unexpected dimensions to this tightly plotted story with its sparse but vivid descriptives and repeated motifs, so that each time I thought "Ok I see where this is going " the author had another surprise up her sleeve.

The book is about secrets and lies, secrets and lies. Then how do you stitch to
Apr 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads lied to me....I don't know why this book has such a reasonable rating. It's so dull, so obvious, and honestly couldn't care less about ANY of the characters and their depressing, dysfunctional lives!!
Luay Eljamal
Aug 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book just wasn't for me. I found it hard to keep track of the characters and the "items" important to the story as well, especially as the time-jumps weren't chronological. I've read through 3/4 of the book and had to give up as I didn't care what happened to the characters and I wasn't sure of exactly what it was we were supposed to be deciphering. A lot of work to read this novel for very little reward.
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a copy of this title from PanMacmillan Australia for review.

Ten Second Synopsis:
Margaret, returned unwillingly to Edinburgh and her mother's cramped flat, takes a job searching out the identities of the city's indigent deceased. Her first case, unravelling the identity of one elderly Mrs Walker, will draw Margaret into a history she can never fully understand, but may have a personal impact on her own life.

Before we get into the meat of this review, let me just warn you that this is a
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If someone could explain the final sentence to me, that would be great....
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I received a copy of this book thanks to Goodreads Giveaway, the author and publisher.

It is Christmas 2010 Edinburgh and an elderly woman dies alone in a freezing flat. She leaves behind Brazil nut with the 10 Commandments etched on its shell, an emerald dress, a photograph and an orange full of holes.

New Year 2011 - Margaret Penny, in her 40’s returns to her childhood home from London where she led a disastrous life. Margaret has no job, no home and no money.
She goes to her mother’s flat seekin
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really engaging mystery. An old woman, known only as Mrs Walker, dies alone in a flat in Edinburgh around christmas time 2010. The following month another lonely woman, Margaret Penny, returns to Edinburgh after 30 years in London. It soon becomes Margaret's job to unravel the secrets of Mrs Walker's life and try find any relatives before she is given a paupers funeral. The Walker family history is revealed over decades as snippets of information begin to build a picture of the true i ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Margaret Penny, the protagonist of this book, is a very dysfunctional person. Running away from her single mother at 17, taking a breakup less than gracefully, stealing, lying and the list could probably go on.

When she has to run from things she's done in London, the only place she can go is Edinburgh, where her estranged mother, Barbara lives. Here Margaret gets a new job at the Office for Lost People and she's tasked with tracking down the family of a Mrs Walker who's died alone on a cold Chri
Phil Bradley
Oct 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really don’t want to be harsh, but this book is grim, in every way possible. The storyline is drab, dismal and depressing. The characters are uniformly miserable and unlikeable. The writing is poor and in need of a competent editor. We are told for example that one character wears a stolen red coat. A stolen coat. A red stolen coat. A coat that has been stolen. On and on and on. I get it! I don’t need this fact being rammed down my throat every few pages.

The storyline uses flashbacks, but thes
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This fits into the unwitting detective story that I can't abide. An unlikable flawed main character, too many moments where you have to suspend reason and some terrible writing. And a boring ending. Rant over.
Cleo Bannister
It’s lovely to read a book that offers up something fresh and Mary Paulson Ellis resoundingly met that brief for me with this tale that weaves a mystery from the past with family secrets. I got the feeling that many families although not having the exact same story, there are many that have similar skeletons lurking in cupboards which share some of the same elements.

Margaret Penny returns to Edinburgh after some thirty years away and returns to her mother’s home. She is not given a warm welcome,
Jackie Law
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Other Mrs Walker, by Mary Paulson-Ellis, is a story of family secrets, lives thwarted, and objects that speak from beyond the grave.

Margaret Penny, at close to fifty years old, returns to her elderly mother’s small flat in Edinburgh with no money, few possessions and fewer prospects. Her life has not turned out as she had hoped when she escaped to London without warning some thirty years previously. Her mother offers neither a welcome nor a rejection, she has never been one to share her thou
Melinda Elizabeth
Sep 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a shame, I really thought the book held promise, and the ratings haven't been bad. But let me tell you that from the first few chapters, it was clear that the book was disjointed, and the characters so deeply flawed (and also strangely private about their lot in life) that you can't find anyone worth wanting to know more about.

Too many jumps from past to present, so many names and people that it was annoying to go to and fro. When you finally get to the end it's such a relief that the
Jayne Catherine pinkett
OMG my favourite book of 2017. Amazing well orchestrated plot. full review to come :-) :-) :-) :-)
Novalinnhe Rowe
I really, really disliked this book. As other reviewers have pointed out, one of the most frustrating things about it is the maddening level of "symbolic" repetition on almost every single page of the book (and I do mean every single page). If you were to cut out every mention of orange peel, stolen coats, crumpled Technicolor photographs, apostle-headed spoons, jewelled glinting eyes, nuts with the commandments written on them, Thou Shalt Not and so on - and I haven't listed even a third of the ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this novel was good, yet the execution of it was so bad. The narrative was fragmented and all over the place, which often left me feeling lost whilst reading it, and the use of unnecessary information in brackets every other page was irritating. The worst thing, however, was the repetition: the repetition of motifs, symbols, words and phrases that made me wonder whether Paulson-Ellis had short-term memory loss whilst writing this book, and made me doubt that this book had even bee ...more
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Other Mrs Walker is the accomplished debut novel from Mary Paulson-Ellis. I don't often compare authors but I was reminded of Kate Atkinson's writing, with a similar ability to weave mystery, suspense and family secrets.

I found this to be a very intriguing read, cleverly written. There are so many glimpses into the lives of the Walkers and Pennys at various points in time as the story moves from Margaret's investigations in the present, back to the London of the 1920s and onwards. As the rea
Mareli Thalwitzer
I remember the way we were taught how to write an essay in school. Draft your beginning, middle and ending. If you use themes and elements, make sure they all pull through and that all lose ends are connected. Make sure that all your i's are dotted and your T's are crossed.

Mary Paulson-Ellis got this all down perfectly. Too perfectly. This was a great and intriguing story that was presented rather too well. Personally, I think it robbed the story from a few elements of surprise and mystery that
An old woman is found dead in her flat, alone with only a few meagre possessions. A middle aged woman has returned to Edinburgh, her life in London in tatters. Margaret returns to the Scottish capital to stay with her mother while she puts her life back together. Through her mother's contacts she ends up working for an organisation that tries to track down the relatives of deceased people with no obvious family. And so the narrative moves between Margaret's investigation and the past life of Mrs ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think the author tried to be too clever here, attempting to make a complex issue more complex and intriguing. What I read was contrived, repetitive and a bit of a drag to read to be honest. I only read it to the end to see if my hunch was right ..... It was.
Linda Boa
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-blog
Hugely promising bittersweet debut, about the way families can fracture, and people can fall through the cracks in society. I'll review it fully very soon on crimeworm - but it's a book I'd highly recommend.
Brian's Bookshelves
Ok so this book is frustrating.
To start with the tagline - "A detective story with no detective" This is not a Detective story and the tagline makes no sense.
The story is of a woman returning to her mother in Scotland after something happened in London. When there she volunteers for a service that helps identify bodies that have no ID or next of kin. When investigating the death of a woman she uncovers a past that is linked to her.
Interweaved in the story are flashbacks of a family that lived
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going to do a rudimentary review for this one.

Things I liked: the plot and story itself (an elderly woman dies in a cold Edinburgh apartment, an "heir hunter" with a story of her own has to find out who she was) , everything/one being in some way connected to each other (very cleverly done), the characters (hate 'em or love em, or something in the middle) and the flashbacks which gradually reveal the elderly woman's story.

Thing's I didn't like: the overwritten style: there's only so many times y
This is a book about family secrets - or about the secrets individuals keep who all happen to be sisters.

Paulson-Ellis manages to juggle two timelines (one not even linear) and keep the reader curious about what happens in both. That was quite an accomplishment. We follow Margaret in the present day; and we follow the Walker sisters and the people in their lives in the past. The story was very well constructed and definitely keeps the reader turning pages.

However, I do not understand the need f
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was one of the most remarkable "detective" stories (without a detective) I have read in a long time. A dead woman, a mystery, a family history over something like 70 years. Kept me glued to the page with its intelligence, its beautiful language and simple brilliance. A must-read imho.
Hmmm overly complicated to no great benefit. It uses a complex structure with shifting time frames and narrators (none of whom are reliable!) I started reading this over Xmas and it suffered from having too much else going on; had I read it in a couple of sittings it would have felt rather less complex. It is mystery and meditation on family secrets, interesting but ultimately unsatisfactory
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this mystery with a difference - the two different time settings worked very well, there was lots of detail and I was kept interested. Unfortunately I worked quite a lot of it out before it happened, so from that point of view it wasn't that mysterious, but the storytelling was good enough to overcome that.
Sharon Young
Though this was a well written book, the characters were not likable nor did I find it as engrossing as a number of the reviewers indicated. I did finish it, but grudgingly and I found the ending a bit confusing.
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I need to strart a discussion on this book!! SPOILERS 5 42 Apr 17, 2019 11:37AM  
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“There was a certain satisfaction to it, not owning anything and not being owned.” 2 likes
“mother, ‘I read somewhere that death comes to a person twice. Once when it happens, and once when everyone who remembers them has gone too.” 0 likes
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