The One I Was

Written by Eliza Graham
Review by Kristina Blank Makansi

Rosamond Hunter returns to Fairfleet, her childhood home, as a nurse hired to care for Benny Gault, the old man who, as a boy, arrived in England after fleeing Nazi Germany aboard a Kindertransport train. After Benny grew up, he bought Fairfleet and now, in the waning days of his life, needs a caregiver. Rosamond’s employer thinks the two will be good for each other, but she has no idea that the nurse and the patient share such a tangled past full of heartache and secrets. Before Benny can die in peace, he feels he must unburden himself, and Rosamond finds that, in order to live in peace, she must share her secrets as well.

It took numerous attempts for me to get past the opening passages of The One I Was, which I found contrived and awkward. Ultimately, however, I’m glad I pushed through. Spanning generations in peacetime and war, the book rewards the reader with a rich tale of long-held secrets, redemption, and forgiveness. The story itself is captivating, the research is well done, and the characters are multi-layered. The one drawback, however, is the writing style, which was clipped and simplistic. On the whole, I felt that the manuscript could have used another round or two of edits to smooth out the syntax and enhance the rhythm and flow at the sentence level. Eliza Graham wrote a lovely story that deserved a more thorough editorial touch.