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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

Just Say It (Author: Tessa Barrie)


Just Say It (Book Cover)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance/Family


Just Say It By Tessa Barrie



Lisa had never felt any love or affection from her Foghorn-Leghorn shrill voiced society driven mother. Her father however, lavished lots of attention on her, taking her on woodland walks, playing Pooh sticks & catching trout for her tea. That morning though, as he said goodbye at the school gates, to his 6 year old daughter who he affectionately called Piglet - to her, he was Pooh - he knew that the trout that he had promised her for that evening's meal was a lie.


Her beloved father wasn't there when she returned home that afternoon, her only explanation from her mother being that of 'irreconcilable differences', whatever that meant. Her mother continued as she had, all of Lisa's young life, as the absentee parent, palming her off on other people. Firstly the au pair who was dismissed when she dared to suggest that Mrs Grant didn't know when her daughter's birthday was....& the brief home schooling episode when Mrs Lavaty (nicknamed Lavatory) smacked Lisa on the hand sharply with a ruler for not paying attention. Naturally, Mrs Grant saw this a perfectly reasonable way to teach a child. Then, her mother arrived home one day accompanied by an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair, declaring him to be her step father, & that Lisa is off to boarding school!

As the years pass, Lisa wonders why she has never heard from her father. It is the beginning of a long held belief that loving someone equals abandonment which her mother's style of parenting only serves to fuel. Whilst Elizabeth is away on one of her London jaunts, with the help of Nellie, Lisa discovers a cupboard within her mother's walk-in wardrobe. She prizes the lock, a trick learned in her younger years, & finds a wall of letters & parcels addressed to her, leading her to uncover the biggest betrayal of her life, & after an earlier discovery in the vast attic, the secret to her mother's past that explains her mother's maternal aloofness & sense of entitlement.


This book was sent to me via Voracious Readers Only, as a courtesy copy directly from the author. This is Tessa's debut novel. There are an extensive number of chapters of differing lengths, which may seem daunting, but it is extremely readable with the casual vernacular that the author gives the character. For me, Elizabeth, Lisa's mother was immediately 'Keeping Up Appearances' Hyacinth Bouquet (Bucket) whilst Lisa's first boss Penny, embodied Patsy Stone (Ab Fab) which made them such humorous characters, if a little grating too. The descriptions of people & places were so well executed it was easy to imagine them as I was reading. The relationship between Lisa & her mother was both heartbreaking & humorous. I found it extremely sad that a mother could treat her daughter with the contempt in which she appeared to hold Lisa.


As they both got older & Lisa rallied against Elizabeth's debutant lifestyle as the only way to go. Their opposing outlooks on life injected some hilarious scenarios. One of my favourite passages is Elizabeth bursting into Lisa's bedroom without knocking....Lisa shouts something like 'Mother, I could have been stark bollock naked'! Elizabeth appalled at her daughter's foul mouthed unlady like demeanour, simply says 'What a ghastly expression'. I laughed out loud!


A very well put together clever plot with very relatable, loveable characters. Very hard to put down & definitely a book I want to own a hard copy of. Available at Amazon.

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