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Watching You Without Me

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  774 ratings  ·  135 reviews
The highly anticipated new literary suspense novel from Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning author Lynn Coady.

After her mother’s sudden death, Karen finds herself back in her childhood home in Nova Scotia for the first time in a decade, acting as full-time caregiver to Kelli, her older sister. Overwhelmed with grief and the daily needs of Kelli, who was born with a development
Paperback, 376 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by House of Anansi Press
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  774 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
For lack of a daughter, then – a proper daughter, a daughter who called more than once every couple of months, a daughter who visited more than once a year, a daughter willing to shoulder her way past the slammed-shut door of “Fine” every time she asked her mother, “How are things?”– Irene had managed to recruit herself a son.

Watching You Without Me is a psychologically astute family drama, and I'd almost go so far as to call it a domestic noir/thriller except that it never goes over the top
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It was well written and an interesting story with some great characters but I wasn't sure what to make of it. I think I was expecting it to be more sinister than it was and kept waiting for something startling to happen. Things got a little tense in the last 30 or 40 pages, more like what I was expecting, but, like other readers, I was totally baffled by the ending. I must have read it 6 times and still don't understand. I didn't like the book well enough ...more
Kind of mesmerizing, in a bad dream sort of way- I simply couldn’t put this one down... Karen’s mother has died and left her with the job of sorting the family home and her disabled sister into some cohesive solution, none of which is easy to come into after years of near alienation. Nothing is as simple as Karen assumed it was going to be; a month absence from her career hardly begins to touch the surface. The care aide, Trevor, has inveigled his way into her mother and sister’s lives, and Kare ...more
Nicole Myers
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Superb writing. F**king Trebbie.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A rare five star review from me. I loved the plot of this novel, and the way it was written. Karen, who narrates in the first person, moves back to Nova Scotia after her mother has passed away from cancer. She is left to care for her sister Kelli, who is developmentally disabled. One of Kelli's caregivers, Trevor, has a strange relationship with the family. The book is both domestic and sinister, at the same time. There is a hint of domestic noire, but it's also a book about caregiving, about mo ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Still catching my breath and sorting my thoughts as I recover from this suspenseful psychological study of familial love and guilt ... My admiration for Lynn Coady's craft has reached new heights. ...more
Ramona Jennex
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The protagonist, Karen Petrie, tells the story of what happened on her return to Nova Scotia from Toronto when her mother passes and she is entrusted with the responsibility of her older sister (who needs constant care due to her developmental disability.) Her thoughts on her telling of her story:
“I know that it's perverse, the pleasure I get from this whole process. That’s why I’ve told this story as many times as I have to so many different people. It’s one of those pleasurable it not quite h
Lori Bosworth
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It caught my attention from the first few pages, which isn't always the case. Lynn Coady puts on a master class about how to gradually increase the tension toward the "crisis" so that we become addicted to and invested in the characters' wellbeing. The three main characters, Karen, Trevor and Kelli, were very well drawn - I can understand Karen's ambivalence as a result of the grief/guilt she is experiencing due to her mother's death - while the r ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of Watching You Without Me.

This is my first book by this author so I was pleased when my request was approved.

** Minor spoilers ahead **

The writing was good; sadly, the plot didn't capture my interest as I thought it would mainly due to the main character, Karen.

Karen has returned to her childhood home to care for her mentally disabled sister, Kelli, after the death of their mother, Irene.

Karen and Irene were estranged for many years and had never reconciled
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
It was good. It was. But I need to frame this more so that it is seen in the context for how/why it was read at this time. My in-person book club chose/voted for another suspense/thriller novel. I cannot get behind reading anymore from this genre. I'm full up and okay, if I'm cranky about it - I'm fed up. Our book club needs to get out of this rut. The book was enjoyable yes, but it was also too similar to the already too many books we've been reading from this genre. We need to turn that page ...more
Craig M
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
I went to Goodreads after finishing this book hoping to come to a better understanding of why it seems to be so well liked. I guess it's a matter of perspective; I did not enjoy this very much. I quite like Coady's writing, but I found there were many aspects to the plot I found tough. The main character, Karen, was just not very likeable in my opinion. She was in a tough situation, and I wanted to empathize with her. The relationship between Karen and Trevor (a caregiver who helped Karen's moth ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tension from the get-go!
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Following her mother’s death, 40-something Karen returns to Nova Scotia to care for her developmentally disabled sister Kelli and take charge of the family home. In Toronto, where she’s lived and worked for years, Karen has recently gone through a painful and messy divorce: these wounds are still fresh. Karen is a lone soul: her father is long dead and there are no other siblings. She seems to have few friends and no other relatives. About twenty years earlier, when she asserted her independence ...more
Jeatherhane Reads
Why do we feel the need to be polite to people who cross the line and act inappropriately? Maybe it is part of the Maritimes etiquette which requires us to be friendly and polite. I'd like to believe I would never be a naïve as Karen, but what makes this story so scary is that maybe it actually could happen to me.
“I had forgotten how smallish cities like this one worked, the way people found out about one another—and east coast people had a knack for this in particular.”
Karen’s mother has just d
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
I don't particularly like reading about stupid people and this narrator was a complete idiot. ...more
Donna Wellard
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Her mother dies and Karen has come home to Nova Scotia to settle her mother’s affairs and take care of her developmentally delayed sister, Kelli. Enter Trevor, a caregiver who has helped Karen’s family in the past and Jessica, a childhood school friend who reappears in her life. I have experienced the dealings of a master manipulator in my own life, so all of my being hoped that Karen would realise what was going on before she got in too deep. Some people just don’t recognize or accept boundarie ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2019
This one took a long time for me to get into but the reviews were so glowing that I stuck with it (that, and my inability to NOT finish a book, even if I enjoy it 0%) and by the end I was on board. It might have even been the ending that make me bring it up from a 2 star to a 3.5. It's certainly well-written and I liked the Canadian appeal, but the plot really dragged along for me. ...more
Kathryn Mockler
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Could not put this book down!

So good!
Anne Caverhill
Ostensibly this story is about a woman returning to Nova Scotia to take care of her dependent adult sister, after their mother dies. But it is about so much more and I loved the way the author spun the story about grief and sorrow as it translated into irritability and regret introducing us to characters who were far from perfect but oh, so relatable.

This book, this author, also made me smile with references to the ugliness of Fenwick Tower, the walkability of Spring Garden Road, and the beauty
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
The premise of this book is interesting, but I had trouble with the characters, especially the protagonist Karen. I rarely empathized with her and couldn't comprehend most of her decision making. ...more
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

This was so well written. Until the very end, I didn't know whether or not to like one of the main characters although I knew that something was not as it seemed. This book definitely kept me turning the pages!
Alan Teder
Slow-burn Caregiver Stalking Tale
Review of the House of Anansi Press paperback edition (2019)

In the past several years I've had a fairly intense grounding in the home care and the long-term care home environment with various elderly relatives. That experience introduces you to a whirlwind of personalities each of whom have their personal traits, quirks and foibles. The motherly warm-hearted bedside manner is the ideal and at the other extreme may be the insistent demanding cloying passive/aggres
Ann Marie
Special thanks to Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

I read this book out of sheer boredom and it peaked my interest. It's about two sisters, Kelli and Karen, Kelli is at home in need of caretakers and her mom, then mom suddenly dies, so Karen finds herself moving back home to care for Kelli.

One of Kelly's caretakers Trevor is always around acting like the perfect caretaker and a shoulder to cry on and someone to talk to, and they get close, but as time goes on, Karen starts
Deborah Bee
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-challenge
Good read if you are a caregiver, but the mystery’s creepy side of the book is just too strained. There is a lot of joy in caring, funny situations when communication is strained and The book has heartwarming moments.
Corinne Wasilewski
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After reading this novel, I can happily say that Lynn Coady is back! This is worth noting because I opened Watching You Without Me with some trepidation. Coady is one of my favourite authors, however, Hellgoing was a disappointment. Was it possible Coady had run out of meaningful stories to tell?

I suppose my affinity for Coady’s work relates to the familiarity of the maritime setting, the authenticity of the dialogue, her ability to really root out what drives her characters, and the ever prese
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always look forward to reading a new Lynn Coady book - sometimes she delights me, sometimes she makes me mad, sometimes she confuses me. Watching You Without Me was a quick read that engaged me totally since I've been in a very similar situation with an over-zealous personal support worker (view spoiler) Coady is a down-to-earth writer who doesn't resort to flowery desc ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a little different than I remember Lynn Coady's books to be, but I really enjoyed it.

The characterization was wonderful, and I love books that are set in Halifax/Dartmouth.
Kerry Ryan
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wowsa! This is a great read, with such slow burning tension and subtle creepiness. It kept me up waaaay too late!
Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe
Thank you so much to Knopf/Doubleday Publishing, Lynn Coady, and Netgalley for my advanced review copy of Watching You Without Me. This book was a psychological family drama that was just short of creepy. Part of me still doesn’t know what to think about this book, and the other part is WOWed by the great writing.

Thoughts: This story was more of a slow-burn that you could see building over time. It wasn’t necessarily a thriller, but was psychological and was dramatic. I enjoyed the writing style
It was worth reading. Most interesting and life-like was the developmentally disabled sister, though all the characters seemed very real. But the sister, with her quirks and personality, was someone I wanted to spend time with and see how different people reacted. Some with kindness, some with meanness. The dreadful overbearing male character who takes over in this story is also well done.
I think the part that makes me less in love with the book is the main character. As the reader, I found mys
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Lynn Coady is an award-winning author, editor, and journalist. Her previous novels include Saints of Big Harbour, which was a national bestseller and a Globe and Mail Top 100 book, and Mean Boy, a Globe and Mail Top 100 book. Her popular advice column, Group Therapy, runs weekly in the Globe and Mail. Coady is originally from Cape Breton Island, NS, and is now living in Edmonton, Alberta.

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17 likes · 3 comments
“Just think of all the confidence we start out with, all the certainty. And then we embark and we fail, much to our surprise. And then we fail something else, and gradually the surprise dwindles and soon we are surprised by nothing and thus are made adults.” 1 likes
“I thought my life with Kelli could be balanced, mitigated,. That Irene had just been doing it all wrong these years. I' thought we could hang out like normal sisters, run errands, go for lattes with Jessica Hendy, and every now and then go off and have a little temper tantrum if Kelli go on my nerves--leave her in the car, assume she'd be fine. I'd assumed I could indulge myself if need be, that there could be some kind of fulfillment beyond my sister's care--that I didn't have to give myself over to it completely. But here's what I needed to understand--what Irene understood. Either you were all in with Kelli, or you were not. But if you were, Kelli had to become your joy. Kelli would be where you went for meaning. Kelli was what it was all about. And Irene was right about this too-- it was like faith. It was exactly like faith in that you had to stop futzing around and let it take you over. No more hemming and hawing. No more trying to have it both ways. And once you put your petty shit aside --your petty ego and your petty needs and your petty ambitions--that was when at last the world opened up. The world that was Kelli. It was a small world, a circumscribed world but it was your world and you did what you could to make it more beautiful. You focused on hygiene, nourishing meals, a pleasing home that always smelled good. That was your achievement and more important that was you. Once you accept that, you were--and this was strange to think, but the moment I thought it, I realized I put my finger on the savagely beating heart of my mother's philosophy--free.

When I was a kid, my mother had a lavishly illustrated encyclopedia of saints she would sometimes flip through with me, and I remember how she always made a point of skipping over Saint Teresa of Avila . She didn't want to talk about the illustration that went with it. It was a photograph of the sculpture The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, and it was pretty obvious to me even as a child why my mother disapproved. It was a sexy sculpture. The smirking angel prepares to pierce Teresa's heart with his holy spear, and boy oh boy is Saint Teresa ready. Her eyes are closed, her lips are parted, and somehow everything about her marble body, swathed in marble clothing looks to be in motion. Saint Teresa is writhing.

She's writhing because that is what it is to be a Catholic Saint. This is your fulfillment. The giving over. The letting go. The disappearance.

This is what it takes”
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