In the Hands of a Masterful Writer

Review of “Where is She Now” by Ina Chadwick,
Connecticut Muse Winter 2009

“There is no doubt you’re in a
masterful writer’s hands when
the first page of a book sets a
scene so visceral, so clearly
evoked that you know you’re going on a bleak
journey whether you want to or not.
In Frances Gilbert’s grim, deftly evoked tale,
Where Is She Now, a newborn’s mysterious death
propels the plot forward as the young mother,
Rosemary, who remembered the elation of seeing
her newborn with “wisps of black hair over tiny
perfect ears and long fingers over the blanket,”
disassembles in front of our eyes, leading us into a
dense fog as can only be found in a small British
working class town where the story is set.”



Review of “Where is She Now” by Charlie Bray,

October, 2013

This is the second of Frances Gilbert’s books that I have had the privilege of reviewing and I set out to do so with trepidation, as I was so captivated by the first one, She Should Have Come for Me. I doubted this one would measure up, but I need not have worried. If I was rationed for space, I could sum up Where is She Now in one word – Brilliant!

Frances’s characters are so real, with real vulnerability, real flaws, real guile. As with many people in real life, you never really know where you stand with them, or what to believe.

Rosemary gains the reader’s empathy by the delicate path she treads through life, often seeking assurance from inanimate every day objects. This in itself speaks volumes of her mind set. Undoubtedly she carries baggage and is surrounded in mystery – all the more enticing for the reader. There are effectively two Rosemarys, which makes the reader’s task of understanding her even more complex.

She clearly understands more than the reader gives her credit for, and this is evidenced in a scene towards the end of the book – Rosemary looked at Brian, but he had turned away, he was looking out of the window. Rosemary knew he wanted to get back into that ordinary world, the courtyard swept clean by the rain and the busy street at the end with coffee shops and supermarkets and busy ordinary people 

She is constantly open to comparison with her husband, Brian and inner self, Anna, but the author never allows you to settle into comfort with any of them.

The wonderfully crafted setting is created from an amalgam of two English towns and plays an integral part in the story.

The superb ending is probably not one you were expecting.

So, in my eyes, a 100% sucess rate for Frances Gilbert. Two books reviewed, two winners.

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Searching for Sanity

Review of “Where is She Now” by Nina Sankovitch,

December 15, 2009
Frances Gilbert’s “Where Is She Now” is a stunning psychological thriller that probes the lucidity contained within madness, and the fear that rides along when trauma suppresses knowledge.  Rosemary is a young woman who may have witnessed a crime or she may have participated in it: she cannot remember as her memory is fogged both by prescribed drugs and by her own terror of discovering the truth. She is a woman fighting to hold onto her sanity and protect her child; she is a pawn in a power struggle between her mother and her husband; she is a visionary who sees past wrongs, and struggles to restore balance in her universe.
Deemed crazy by some, pitiable by others, and gifted by just a few, Rosemary as presented to the reader is all of these and much more: she is a woman alone fighting demons from within and without.  Can I believe her?  Is she crazy or horribly sane? I became enthralled with her as I read on, and increasingly saddened by her situation. Rosemary’s loneliness and confusion is heartbreaking, as are her efforts to find guidance and companionship in made-up characters and anthropomorphized objects.  When Rosemary finds herself witnessing infanticide from centuries past, I shuddered for her; when she found unexpected alliance in her struggle, I hoped for her.
Gilbert’s writing is lyrical and clear.  She does an excellent job portraying the fear and anxiety of someone shaken to the core by trauma, by guilt, and by helplessness in the face of very real danger.  Gilbert takes her time creating Rosemary and her space in the world. Slowly, details accumulate and surely, the reader is drawn into the mystery of Rosemary’s child, the question of Rosemary’s sanity or insanity, and the struggle for Rosemary’s survival.
The final unraveling of the truth is unexpected, believable, and riveting.  Kindness comes in the form of strangers while treachery begins at home.  Where Is She Now left me gasping and roiling, breathless and blown away.  This is a wonderful novel.