ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “Forgotten But Not Gone” by Barbara Peckham


Forgotten But Not Gone is an interwoven story about a married housewife and part-time librarian living in coastal Massachusetts in 1965. She is happy and very active in her life there. However, she has a background that no one knows about except her husband, George, and even he doesn’t know anywhere near the whole story. He knows that she has amnesia about her early childhood, but very little else.

All Liz really remembers is that, at the age of about fourteen or fifteen, she found herself running, panicked, down an Appalachian mountainside. She had no idea then, nor did she now have any memory of what had happened before that, what she was running from, or what had frightened her so much. Now she seldom thought about it. She had managed to get on with her life and what was past was past.

That is, until, one day a strange letter arrives in her mailbox. It appears that someone know things about her that she doesn’t even know, and it frightens her. Not long after, other occurrences begin, and they escalate more and more in intensity and danger. She is sure all this has to do with the past she can’t remember, and she begins to fear for her life. She has had, ever since she can remember, some silver teaspoons with initials engraved on them, and a diamond ring, but she has no idea whose they were or what the initials mean. Did she steal them? Is someone finally going to find her? Then a teaspoon exactly like hers turns up in the collection of a friend. Where did she get it? How are they connected?

Still, try as she might, all she can remember is that she ran until she came across a hardscrabble farm, where an elderly couple took her in. They treated her like the daughter they had lost. She stayed and worked the farm with them until, after a few years, they died, one shortly after the other, and she was forced to leave the only home she remembered to go out on her own with few resources and little education. The years following were years of hard work and night school.

The story weaves back and forth between the present, [with] Liz revealing more of her past, a mysterious man who has come to town with a vengeance, and a young woman who has in her possession another of the silver spoons. All comes together at the end with a terrible fire, and the truth comes out.


Once upon a time, a girl stumbled out of the thickly forested Appalachian foothills and into the lives of an elderly couple on a small farm. Uncertain of what had happened before she entered the forest, her exact age, and even her own name, the girl is dubbed “Nell” and nurtured by the Ekburgs until their deaths send her out into the world, ready to make a new life for herself under a new name, and equally determined to make new memories to replace the ones she’d lost.

Thus begins the story of Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons, a new cross-genre historical fiction plus mystery novel from Barbara Peckham. The novel leaps twenty-odd years into the future, and catches up with Nell, now Mrs. Elizabeth (“Liz”) Everson, living a calm life as a part-time librarian and housewife just prior to Halloween in 1965. And yes, a set of silver spoons really does connect the dots between the stories of Nell/Liz/? and those of the book’s other point-of-view characters, including her husband George, the young Joyce, Liz’s new friend Elaine, the local police chief, and an unnamed mystery man who thinks he knows exactly what happened during Liz’s forgotten years––and is determined to punish her for it.

Told in a combination of straightforward narrative and flashbacks from their prior lives, Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons perfectly melds those elements it borrows from historical fiction and cozy mystery genres. Peckham has an eye for detail, walking her readers back through the years to a time when phones were analog and had those spiral cords (you still can find them for sale as ‘antiques’ on Etsy, which makes me feel absolutely ancient), and when people sent letters that were made of actual paper. She also embraces all of the pomp and circumstance (and obsessive planning) behind many a community celebration of the variety still common in older, tourist-friendly East Coast shore towns. As a librarian, Liz enlists Elaine and her other Book Club friends to assist in organizing Seaside’s Christmas parade and neighborhood gathering––a subplot that is blessedly free of the sinister elements that are becoming routine in the Everson household all of a sudden. It is here, with her friends around her and a project to complete, that Liz’s fundamental personality really shines––and her natural aptitude for winning people over. It’s only when Liz returns home that she is haunted by danger, and the nagging feeling that someone is out to get her for things she can’t even remember begins to sink its claws into her mind.

So, what happened in those years she’s forgotten? I can’t tell you exactly, since to do so would be an unforgivable spoiler, but Peckham weaves together the various elements of the novel into one, cohesive, and compelling story of fractured and found families, suspense and seeking sanctuary, and the making of a whole and complete life.

At a time when the world seems to be either on fire or consumed by some other tragic breaking news, Peckham invokes an era when the local police were also neighbors and friends, when daily life felt comfortable like a favorite sweater, and when libraries were the surest place to discover critical information in a mystery so old the trail is beyond cold––it’s pure ice. And I find this somewhat ironic, given that fire and ice (or at least, icing bruises) are common themes in Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons. I heartily encourage you to take a peek at this novel if you liked Big Little Lies but wished that people would just talk to each other and figure out a solution together, or if you find yourself hankering for a seasonally appropriate read in the months between Halloween and Christmas. After all, we all need a satisfying spook every now and then.


Compassionately written characters learn crucial details about their own lives in this cozy, genre-bending novel from Barbara Peckman. Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons is exactly the right book at the right time for those of us who love old houses and old towns and old memories relived.


You can find Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons wherever good books are sold, including Amazon and WalMart. You can also find out more about Joseph Bylinski’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.


I’m digging into Rambling With Milton next, a novel that follows a journalist and columnist whose youthful ideals about romance remain unfulfilled after a long and successful career. A significant chunk of this romantic work of fiction is set around a Christmas play and the long road to recovery one woman faces as she falls in love. The premise is exactly the sort of thing to have me restocking my kleenex supplies, so I will update you with more information in the days to come!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Amazon book listing.


ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

Character Development Tips for Fiction Writers

Back in November 2012 I participated in NaNoWriMo.  As a first time fiction writer, one of the things I found the hardest was keeping character traits straight in my head. Did he have red or brown hair? Was he short or tall? As I was working through this problem, I developed some tricks to help me keep all those important character traits straight. Here are my favorites:

1. Let someone inspire you.

Even if you are writing fiction, you can use people in your real life as inspiration. Picture someone you know or see and base your character on that person. Not only is this a good way to generate ideas and help you remember your character descriptions, it is also a great way to ensure your characters are realistic because you will be describing someone you’ve actually seen or met.

2. Keep a list of character traits.

Even if you think you know your characters well, it is hard to remember all of the details once you are well into writing your book. To avoid messing up descriptions half way through the book, keep a list of all the character traits. You can format this however is most convenient for you. Perhaps create a table with headings such as physical characteristics and personality traits. The key is to keep the list updated and to review it often while you write and edit your book.

3. Plan ahead.

Some people let their characters develop as they write the story, but if remembering character traits is an issue for you, it may be beneficial to create your characters ahead of time. Before you begin writing, envision your characters. Imagine you are interviewing them and write down everything they would tell you and you would observe. What do they look like? Where do they live? What is their temperament? What are their motivators? Their fears? Their strengths? The more you figure out ahead of time, the easier it will be to write about them as they come into your story. Be sure to keep all this information in a safe, organized place that you can reference often.

4. Double and triple check your work.

As you write your book, your character may begin to take on a different personality than you expected or you may decide different characteristics are more suiting for certain characters. It is okay to change things, and you don’t have to be glued to your list of character traits as you write. You do, however, have to make sure everything is consistent before you self-publish your book. While you are revising your manuscript, read through it while focusing on character traits. You should also have at least one other person review your manuscript because he or she will often catch subtleties you missed.

5. Hire help.

If character traits is a struggle for you, a developmental editor may be able to help. Unlike copyeditors who review your manuscript for grammar and style issues, developmental editors look for consistency and structural elements such as character development and realistic dialogue. They can point out errors in your manuscript where you made mistakes and offer advice on improving your characters.

I’d love to know, what do you do to help you remember your characters’ traits?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.