No: Sequel to One Small Word
by Gloria Eveleigh
URLink Print and Media

"[T]he most important positive effect from all of her negative experiences was that each had made her into a stronger woman."

This novel is a streamlined, to-the-point account of Frankie’s continued battles against abuse. Frankie does not attend the funeral of her father, who abused her until she told him “no” at fourteen. Shortly after his death, Frankie’s husband, Alex, has a stroke. He was the man of her dreams, and confronting the end of the Alex she knew conjures angry memories of her father’s betrayal. Frankie finds solace in Gavin, a colleague, while caring for post-stroke Alex. She and Gavin, along with other workmates, support one another as they lodge formal complaints against their bullying boss. A new job and flat relieve some of Frankie’s stress, but the bullying continues on the parish council she chairs. After Alex dies, Frankie wonders what the inevitable next challenge will be.

As a survivor of abuse, Frankie knows she’s susceptible to victimhood. With many cliffhanger chapter endings, the plot sustains suspense about the bullies’ next moves and how Frankie defends herself against them. This focus on bullying keeps the writing centered on feelings and relationships. The small cast contains only Frankie, people who bully her, and people who support her efforts against bullies, creating a closed and threatening ambiance. The setting is so bound up with Frankie’s inner world that it’s not clear where she lives until London is mentioned.

Descriptions about the setting increase as Frankie settles into more solitude in her new abode. She enjoys creative endeavors and her surroundings while working independently, making a real difference in her field of social work: specializing in seniors. Metaphors and lyrical prose increase in the last part of the book. The ending is positive and uplifting. The “no” that determines Frankie’s life trajectory turns into a “yes” to life-affirming practices and people.

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