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The One I Was [Kindle Edition]

Eliza Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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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 two begin to unthread the ties binding them together, a figure from the past returns to Fairfleet to menace the pair.

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:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,504 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 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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1 of 1 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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1 of 1 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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1 of 1 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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More About the Author

Eliza Graham lives in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family.

Her first novel, Playing with the Moon, was published in 2007 by Macmillan and has sold more than 110,000 copies. It was nominated for World Book Day 2008's Hidden Gem award.

Her latest book, The One I Was, was published in April 2014 by Moreton Street Books.

Eliza also writes young adult fiction, and the first in a series about a teenage girl living through the Second World War, Blitz Kid, was published in 2013.

Find out more about Eliza on her website:

You can also follow her on Twitter: Eliza_Graham

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