Not Speaking

Families are places of love, care, and fun; also of anger, anxiety, and quarrels.

Not Speaking tells the story of a Greek matriarch, Rena, and her English children in post-war London and the present. It begins with Rena's move out of a flat in St John's Wood owned by her son Nicky Clarke, and the family disagreement that erupted.

Moving through the London slums of Blackfriars, Greece under Nazi occupation, the Old Kent Road, Elephant and Castle, and the world of celebrity hairdressing, this is a tale of fame, infidelity and its consequences.

And in the end, it has a message: every family is unique and all families are the same.

About the author

Born and living most of her life in London, Norma Clarke has had a varied career in teaching, now she teaches at Kingston University. Norma wrote children's fiction; later, she published with Routledge, Faber and Faber, and Random House. This is her first book with Unbound.

Read More

Why We Like It

  • 'Wonderfully evocative - funny, illuminating and moving.' - Jenny Uglow
  • ‘Clarke tells the family’s story brilliantly – everyone and no-one is to blame for everything.’
  • ‘There are few if any accounts of family life that share the hunger, determination and erudition of Not Speakingit’s a searching and resonant work of memoir and social history.’

Norma Clarke

Born and living most of her life in London, Norma Clarke has had a varied career in teaching: in schools, colleges, adult education and, latterly, as a professor at Kingston University. While her two sons were small Norma wrote children's fiction; later, when she taught literature at university, her work reflected her specialism in women's writing in the eighteenth century, and her interest in Irish writers in London. Not Speaking is a family memoir about Norma's Greek mother, English father and five siblings (including celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke) - but it is also a story about London, the city she loves.

How it works

The book will be delivered in 10 instalments (or staves), one every day. The instalments are delivered to your Pigeonhole bookshelf on your IOS or Android app, plus you can read on our web reader. You will receive an email letting you know when each stave is available.

We believe that shared reading leads to new ideas and connections. That’s why we have a dynamic commenting system which allows in-text discussion between our readers. Post a comment and all your fellow readers will be able to respond. You can also choose to receive notifications (customise them here) when someone responds to your comment, or, additionally, whenever a comment is left in the book.

As you read you will see round purple icons at the edge of certain paragraphs – tap on these to reveal behind-the-scenes extra content!

Links will be included at the end of the final stave which will allow you to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The full book will be available on your Pigeonhole bookshelf for one month for you to read at your leisure. 

Any questions? Drop us a line on


Join our commmunity of readers or read with friends in your own private book club.


And read it in bite-sized instalments – called staves – that fit busy modern lives.


Save your favourite bits and leave thoughts to connect with fellow readers.


Beautiful extras in the margins immerse you in the world of each book.

More about us