“September 15th 2007 is a date that will stay with me always. For it’s the day that Paul, my late husband and father to my seven children, decided he’d had enough of the life he had created for us all, and took himself off to the woods on the edge of our property, and fatally slashed his neck and arms.”
When Vikie Shanks met Paul, he seemed to be everything a girl could ever want. Handsome, attentive, caring and musically gifted, he felt like the antidote to all the bad things that had happened in her life. Vikie had had a deeply unhappy childhood, and it had scarred her. Sexually abused by her eldest brother and dominated by a violent father, her childhood ended with the death of her mother when she was just sixteen.
Unravelled is the story of Vikie’s life with Paul. Of the years in which his behaviour and mental state became ever more erratic. Of his casual cruelty, his spying, his inexplicable and sudden rages. Of his growing obsession with having more and more children, and of naming them according to a precise set of rules. How, over a period of years, he all but gutted their family home, tearing down most of the internal walls and removing almost everything but basic furniture, while simultaneously creating a secret home for himself, made out of plywood, in what used to be a shed. Of his secret diaries – the tens of thousands of entries he made, documenting every minute of every day. After his death, it would be these writings that would provide such compelling evidence of what further tragedy might have happened had he not made the decision that he did that fateful morning. Because whatever was wrong with him was like a ticking bomb that even Vikie hadn’t properly heard; it seemed he’d spent time planning to kill the whole family.
Lynne Barrett-Lee was born in London and became a fulltime writer shortly after moving to Cardiff in 1994. She is the author of ten novels, including her acclaimed debut, Julia Gets a Life, and Barefoot in the Dark, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her novels have been translated into several languages and she has also contributed two titles (one ghostwritten for television presenter Fiona Phillips) to the UK’s Quick Reads Campaign, which provides easy-to-read books for adult emergent readers.
Most recently, Lynne has returned to h...
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Vikie Shanks was born in 1958 in Aden ( now South Yemen ), where her father was stationed in the RAF, the youngest of three children, and lived from the age of five in Waterbeach near Cambridge.
At the age of seventeen she left home and moved to London to start work as a trainee buyer in Harrods but left after a year and became a croupier. After two years working in London and a further year in Spain she became a full time model back in the UK.
Aged twenty five she met Paul Shanks, who was to become her husband and father to her seven children, whom it transpi...
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