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The One I Was [Kindle Edition]

Eliza Graham
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

The past will always find you out...
Rosamond Hunter has spent her adult life running away from the past, filled with guilt about her involuntary role in the death of her mother. Rosamond is a nurse, a kind of midwife for those leaving rather than entering life. Her work brings her back to Fairfleet, the country house at which her mother died so long ago, to nurse the dying Benny Gault, a former Kindertransport refugee from Nazi Germany. Rosamond soon discovers that Benny is hiding a secret about his last days in Germany he badly needs to confess, a secret that somehow connects with Rosamond's own family history. Just as the pair begin to unthread the mystery binding them together, a figure from the past returns to Fairfleet to menace them.

Editorial Reviews


It's quite a while since I read a book with quite so much meat on its bones... 
The Bookbag
'Eliza Graham crafts a poignant story of identity and legacy in THE ONE I WAS, posing the question of how much past events define us, and whether we can ever break free of our damaged selves to truly start anew. In this novel as in life, there are no pat answers. Beautifully done.'
Kristina Riggle, author of Real Life and Liars and The Whole Golden World.
A haunting and intricate tale  
... The plot is constructed with such watchmaker's precision that to refer to any aspect of it trails a spoiler and violates the unity of the whole. Suffice it to say that the book is engaging, compelling and dramatic from the first page. It has some aspects of a psychological thriller; in other ways a doomed romance; and from another angle an involving historical novel. Readers of any of these genres will enjoy this book. If the intricacy of the story is remarkable, it never overwhelms the beautifully drawn characters.
By Tim

From the Author

The One I Was was titled 'Fairfleet' for the period of two years in which I wrote it, because the house itself seemed to be such a part of the narrative, almost a character in its own right. Eventually I changed the name, because a friend, rightfully, pointed out that it gave the book a nautical, if not naval, air! It is set in inland England, near the historic cities of Oxford and Abingdon, so I was worried that this would be misleading. The One I Was as a title popped into my head at a random moment and it seemed completely the right title for the book. Benny comes to England as a refugee from Nazi Germany and immediately realizes that to flourish in a new country he needs to reinvent himself into someone irreproachably English. But are we still the same people we were when we were children? And if you try and change yourself into someone else can you always succeed?
There are lots of other things in the The One I Was that fascinate me: topiary animals and peacocks. Appropriately, only last night, a few weeks after the book was published, a friend and I nearly jumped out of our skins when a peacock shrieked at us in the dark. A Spitfire plane also features in the novel as an emblem of freedom and danger, completely irresistible for Harriet Dorner, female pilot.

Product Details

  • File Size: 473 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Moreton Street Books (March 30, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,295 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the world's a stage. May 24, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing's Member Giveaways program.)

Germany, December 1938. Only weeks after Kristallnacht ("The Night of Broken Glass," an orgy of organized violence against Jews in Germany and Austria), eleven-year-old Benjamin Goldman boards a Kindertransport train for England. Carrying just his school satchel and his cherished leather football, Benny is traveling light; with his father long since imprisoned by the Nazis, and a mother who lay dying of diphtheria, Benny has no one to see him off, and is eager to put his life in Germany behind him.

Once in England, Benny is "adopted" by Lord Sidney Dorner and his young wife Harriet. The wealthy couple pledged to sponsor twenty Jewish refugees; the best and brightest six boys are to stay at their Fairfleet estate, where they'll receive a top-notch education from university professor Dr. Dawes. For the next six and a half years, Benny tries his best to assimilate into his new, adopted country. Having always felt an outsider, he's determined to shed his German roots and become a "proper" Englishman. From day one at Fairfleet, Benny struggles to speak in English rather than German, even outside of the classroom. He excels in his studies and forms tentative friendships with his dorm mates.

And he falls in love with Harriet, his benefactor's wife. An aviatrix who flies auxiliary air transport for the Allies, Harriet is as beautiful as she is charming and enigmatic. Happiest when piloting her beloved Spitfire planes, Harriet is rarely present during Benny's formative years. Yet he finds himself pulled to her almost as strongly as she's drawn to her prized Fairfleet.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking and fascinating novel May 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I read a novel, I have one requirement:


Three little words, but for me they pack an enormous punch. If I don’t care about the characters, their issues, or the story, the book will be set aside.

In THE ONE I WAS, Eliza Graham has made me care, and very deeply. With great skill, she weaves a fascinating story of two characters from two very different decades. One is Benny Gault, a Kindertransport refugee from Nazi Germany; the other is Rosamond, a nurse with a troubled background who wasn’t even born when Benny arrived in England.

Yet, despite all this, their lives come together because of an old house—Fairfleet.

With vivid descriptions of the rooms, the gardens, and the atmosphere, the author takes us through Fairfleet’s journey as it stumbles from pre-war splendor into a debt-riddled, crumbling mess, only to rise again in the hands of a mysterious owner who has a compelling reason to rescue this particular house and all its memories.

But why? It’s one of the book’s central mysteries and is not revealed until the end, and it is so totally worth waiting for. As an aside, though …

I was particularly fascinated with Harriet who flew Spitfires in the war, delivering them to airfields during the Battle of Britain. One can just imagine the surprise on the young pilot’s faces when the glamorous Harriet stepped from the cockpit, removed her leather flying helmet, and shook out her fabulous blond hair!

A book like THE ONE I WAS can change how you view history and teach you something that you didn’t know before. With a solid grasp on history and a storyteller’s ear, Eliza Graham delivers a novel that will resonate with readers who relish mystery and a rollicking good story. The ending was perfect and left me with a good feeling. The past and the present are beautifully woven together through Benny and Rosamond, while spinning a tale of twisting emotions.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, wonderful, certainly worth reading. May 20, 2014
I absolutely loved this book. It was well-written, well-researched, and kept me on my toes. I could never imagined the turns it was about to take, each twist was a shock. My heart ached with joy, distress, and longing as I watched Benny's life come to an end. But it was so much more than that - it was also watching his entire life and the lives of three generations of Fairfleet residents. It was a story of triumph, of failure, and of accepting in order to let go.
Rosamond's employer knew that she'd be the perfect match for Benny Gault, but probably didn't know how perfect. Not only were there a myriad of secrets for Benny to reveal before he could die in peace, there were many more to be revealed by Rosamond before she could live in peace. The two are perfect soul-bearers for each other, each able to understand each other more than anyone else alive could.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Absorbing June 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read a book to be absorbed and I was completely absorbed in this one. Graham's light touch led me page after page to find out what was behind the characters and their history.

Three generations pass through Fairfleet and one additional owner. I wish I could go there. It seems so real.

I could read five more books like this one.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing and captivating! June 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Eliza did a wonderful job weaving together several, intricate mysteries all the while bringing to life characters spanning three generations. I could see Benny and Clarissa both as children and, later as adults. As always, Eliza's research made each scene authentic, from Benny's ride on the train out of Germany to his end-of-life care. The book kept me awake several nights as I eagerly turned pages to read the ending. Eliza Graham never disappoints and her books leave me begging for the next one. She's both a gifted writer and storyteller.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read
3.75 stars

*recieved from netgalley*

The One I Was tells the story of a woman, Rosamond, who returns against her better judgement to one of her childhood... Read more
Published 21 hours ago by Julia Curran
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good story worth reading & I enjoyed it very much.
Published 1 month ago by Lori M
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Good ending !
Published 1 month ago by Eileen Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars I really cared about the characters, hidden identities, dual time...
I think I have read all of Eliza Graham's novels and I've loved and enjoyed them all, including this latest novel. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. C. Colbert
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant
A story of death that is more about how our choices define our lives as the past determines the present. We all look back and think about the turning points of our lives. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Prindaville
5.0 out of 5 stars A look at expectations
..sometimes people are who we expect them to be.....and we all lose the opportunity to know who they really are....
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars great read!
Super story! Surprise ending!
Published 3 months ago by E READER
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very interesting story a nice read
Published 3 months ago by Gayle Markee-Begin
5.0 out of 5 stars A different story
Wonderful and totally engaging story ! I was totally unaware of Jewish children coming to England and the twist in this particular novel is totally unexpected. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sophia
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
This book caught my full attention from beginning to end. It was well written and the characters became very real as I came to "know" them. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Eliza Graham spent Biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the text books, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and History lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

At Oxford University she read English Literature on a course that regarded anything post about 1930 as too modern to be included. She retains a love of Victorian novels.

Eliza lives in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family in an ancient village. Her interests (still) mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home.

Her first novel, Playing with the Moon, was longlisted for Richard & Judy's Summer Read and World Book Day's Book to Talk About in 2007.

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