Five Days Gone
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLERAcclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Velazquez Laura Cumming shares the riveting story of her mother’s mysterious kidnapping as a toddler in a small English coastal village—and how that event reverberated through her own family and her art for decades.In the fall of 1929, when Laura Cumming’s mother was three years old, she was kidnapped from a beach on the Lincolnshire coast of England. There were no screams when she was taken, suggesting the culprit was someone familiar to her, and when she turned up again in a nearby village several days later, she was found in perfect health and happiness. No one was ever accused of a crime. The incident quickly faded from her memory, and her parents never discussed it. To the contrary, they deliberately hid it from her, and she did not learn of it for half a century. This was not the only secret her parents kept from her. For many years, while raising her in draconian isolation and protectiveness, they also hid the fact that she’d been adopted, and that shortly after the kidnapping, her name was changed from Grace to Betty. In Five Days Gone, Laura Cumming brilliantly unspools the tale of her mother’s life and unravels the multiple mysteries at its core. Using photographs from the time, historical documents, and works of art, Cumming investigates this case of stolen identity with the toolset of a detective and the unique intimacy of a daughter trying to understand her family’s past and its legacies. Compulsive, vivid, and profoundly touching, Five Days Gone is a masterful blend of memoir and history, an extraordinary personal narrative unlike any other.

Five Days Gone Details

TitleFive Days Gone
Author
ReleaseAug 27th, 2019
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781501198717
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Crime, True Crime, Biography Memoir, Mystery, Biography

Five Days Gone Review

  • Valerity (Val)
    January 1, 1970
    She started out her life as Grace until she was adopted before age 3, then she was Betty. A name she never liked. Later she called herself Elizabeth. An older couple adopted her at age 3, George and Veda Elston. She grew to dislike George, who was controlling and didn’t want her mingling with others in the tiny village. She wasn’t allowed to go out and play with any of the local kids. This story is about the discovery of her strange disappearance that happened when she was about 3, but she wasn’ She started out her life as Grace until she was adopted before age 3, then she was Betty. A name she never liked. Later she called herself Elizabeth. An older couple adopted her at age 3, George and Veda Elston. She grew to dislike George, who was controlling and didn’t want her mingling with others in the tiny village. She wasn’t allowed to go out and play with any of the local kids. This story is about the discovery of her strange disappearance that happened when she was about 3, but she wasn’t aware of until she was in her 50’s, that’s shared with and written about by her daughter. Who took her and why? And for what reason was she returned days later…? Read to find out. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Laura Cumming, and the publisher. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.Also on my WordPress blog: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:In her new book, the art critic Laura Cumming unravels the mystery of her mother's disappearance one day in late 1929. Five days went by before she was found unharmed, but she remembered nothing of these events and the silence about what happened remained for fifty years when the circumstances of her kidnap came to light. Laura finds clues in everyday objects and crucially the family photo album, and her search for the truth uncovers a series of secrets, betra From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:In her new book, the art critic Laura Cumming unravels the mystery of her mother's disappearance one day in late 1929. Five days went by before she was found unharmed, but she remembered nothing of these events and the silence about what happened remained for fifty years when the circumstances of her kidnap came to light. Laura finds clues in everyday objects and crucially the family photo album, and her search for the truth uncovers a series of secrets, betrayals and heartache. Read by Laura Cumming and Susan Jameson.Abridged by Katrin WilliamsProduced by Elizabeth Allardhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...
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  • Janet Burns
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoying the mystery of Betty in this book but it has been spoilt by the episode where the Grammar school girl, born in 1929, was able to have a polio vaccination, whereas I was born in 1941 and was among the first tranche of teenagers to be given the new vaccine in 1955. An irritation getting this information which can’t be true.
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  • Mairi Byatt
    January 1, 1970
    I have been so moved by this stunning novel, also learnt so much about art, and given me an appreciation I have never known before. I was actually at school with Laura for 12 years and always liked her but never really got to know her - my loss! I could have known one of the most emotive caring and beautiful people on the planet! Please, please read this book.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fascinating story. A true story told by Laura Cumming the author, as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother's past.In 1929 a mother and small child enjoy an afternoon on a beach, Chapel beach in Lincolnshire. Suddenly in a moment the child is gone, kidnapped. It is five agonising day's for the parents before the child, Laura's mother is found. This is the story of the effects those actions had, on many lives.The child remembers nothing of this event and it is 50 years This is a fascinating story. A true story told by Laura Cumming the author, as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother's past.In 1929 a mother and small child enjoy an afternoon on a beach, Chapel beach in Lincolnshire. Suddenly in a moment the child is gone, kidnapped. It is five agonising day's for the parents before the child, Laura's mother is found. This is the story of the effects those actions had, on many lives.The child remembers nothing of this event and it is 50 years later that she learns that it happened. Many of the villagers know about the circumstances surrounding the child but all keep the secrets, telling no-one.This story is very sad in places as truths and family secrets are exposed and many pieces of the jigsaw are pieced together giving Laura, her mother and family answers to long overdue questions.I would highly recommend this book and wonder what I would uncover if I explored my families past.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    January 1, 1970
    I love family mysteries. Five Days Gone unravels the layers of secrets revolving around the author's mother, Betty, who originally was called Grace. One day she disappeared from the beach, only to turn up a few days later. Most of the local villagers knew the truth about the incident as well as Betty's true parentage, but even years later, kept the secrets. Cumming reveals the truth painstakingly slowly: her mother's cold, austere upbringing, the truth about her parentage, unknown family members I love family mysteries. Five Days Gone unravels the layers of secrets revolving around the author's mother, Betty, who originally was called Grace. One day she disappeared from the beach, only to turn up a few days later. Most of the local villagers knew the truth about the incident as well as Betty's true parentage, but even years later, kept the secrets. Cumming reveals the truth painstakingly slowly: her mother's cold, austere upbringing, the truth about her parentage, unknown family members coming forward, and perhaps, finally a sense of belonging that she had never felt. It's a sad, yet inspiring story that you're never to old to hear family truths. Thanks to NetGalley for the early read.
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  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting and detailed family history, it’s fascinating to learn how Laura and her mother gradually discovered her mother’s origins. There is a tendency to imagine the thought processes and emotions of ancestors that she couldn’t know - I do the same thing myself, but in this case she digs down deeper and gets to as close to the truth as she’s going to get. Photos are reproduced in the book, but they’re grainy and dim. Sadly an artwork that is painstakingly described is also reproduced, but An interesting and detailed family history, it’s fascinating to learn how Laura and her mother gradually discovered her mother’s origins. There is a tendency to imagine the thought processes and emotions of ancestors that she couldn’t know - I do the same thing myself, but in this case she digs down deeper and gets to as close to the truth as she’s going to get. Photos are reproduced in the book, but they’re grainy and dim. Sadly an artwork that is painstakingly described is also reproduced, but these details can’t be seen. The book is like a detailed episode of Long Lost Family so if you enjoy that programme you’ll like this book.
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    A cleverly written biography of the author’s family. It tells the story of family secrets in a normal Lincolnshire family from the 1920s onwards. Also beautifully evocative of the landscape, a mix of social history, family, art. I really enjoyed this even though it left me with an overwhelming sense of the sadness for the people involved and made me wonder about the untold stories in our own families. Worth reading.
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this as an audiobook through the BBC Sounds website.This is a biography about the author's mother Betty, who it turns out was originally called Grace. One day she vanishes from the beach, aged only three, but turns up again a few days later. Betty cannot remember what had happened, and this is the premise of the book, to discover the mystery of what had happened to Betty.A sad and yet uplifting story of family secrets.
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  • Ben
    January 1, 1970
    ‘On Chapel Sands’ is a powerful meditation on love and loss and how secrets and lies can be contained in memories and images. Most of all it is a reminder to pay heed to EM Forster’s epigraph at the beginning of ‘Howard’s End’ to ‘Only Connect’ and as someone who lives in the area that the author writes about and who has a parent with a terminal disease by the close of the book I was emotionally overcome. It is a testament to the enduring strength of love in all its many forms.
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  • Joanne Shaw
    January 1, 1970
    Confession - I listened to this book on Radio 4 rather than read it.Many families have extraordinary stories but few are described so beautifully. I'm sure it's no accident that listening to the story felt somehow like looking at the Vermeer milkmaid painting which features in the book. Being able to see some of the photographs online added to the experience.
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  • Niamh Maher
    January 1, 1970
    Just an incredible book from start to finish , a.privilege to readA memoir of such honesty and sensitivity , betty shines through her daughter's words and laura imbues the main characters with such feeling that even when not deserved you have sympathy for them
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  • Jojo
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the tenderness with which the story is unfolded and told - no hatred for what had been quite a sad and shocking set of circumstances. Most enjoyable.
  • DianaAitch
    January 1, 1970
    Listened to this on BBC Sounds app.
  • Trina Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed this true family mystery.
  • SundayAtDusk
    January 1, 1970
    Publisher requested in NetGalley e-mail no ARC reviews be posted until two weeks before publication date.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided in exchange for honest review. 👩🔬 ARC provided in exchange for honest review. 👩‍🔬
  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week production: Interesting story but somewhat muddled in presentation and such a factual subject could have been better in a more linear way.
  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Listened on BBC R4, interesting story and sad in many ways, the stigma of illegitimacy and the lengths that were taken to keep secrets.
  • Colin
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting story
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Laura Cumming's mother was raised in a rather stern household on the English coast. Kept isolated from much of the community, Betty finally escaped to college and then marriage. There was one incident on the bus home from school, when a complete stranger accosted her saying that her grandmother wanted to see her... but Betty knew of no grandmother. Years later, Laura and Betty begin to unravel the mystery of Betty's parents and life. It's a tale that could only happen in relatively rural, untech Laura Cumming's mother was raised in a rather stern household on the English coast. Kept isolated from much of the community, Betty finally escaped to college and then marriage. There was one incident on the bus home from school, when a complete stranger accosted her saying that her grandmother wanted to see her... but Betty knew of no grandmother. Years later, Laura and Betty begin to unravel the mystery of Betty's parents and life. It's a tale that could only happen in relatively rural, untechnological times, when communication and information could be controlled. Having said that, there were a number of digressions and timeline issues that lessened the effect of the mystery - for example, all the talk about art and artists. Otherwise this would have been a solid five star.eARC provided by publisher.
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  • Eve
    January 1, 1970
    3.5
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