Miriam Delaney hasn’t left her house for three years, since the thing that happened, the thing she did. And now, she is ready. She has fed the koi carp, thrown away her dead mother’s belongings, it’s time to live a proper life. But what is a proper life? What should it contain? And where to go, after all this time? Instinctively, she heads for the woods.

Across town, with just his wallet and guitar, Ralph Swoon has walked away from his life. He is hiding, AWOL, sleeping in an old shack in the woods, refusing to go home, refusing to face the truth.

Sadie Swoon, his wife, has no idea where he is. His absence is a shock, but not in the way she expected – in fact, it’s surprisingly liberating.

Whispers Through a Megaphone is a novel about friendship, old flames and self-discovery. It explores the presence of absence, the constant spectacle of the past, and how, in a world of unrelenting noise, it’s still possible to hear your own voice.




Whispers Through a Megaphone is published by ONE, an imprint of Pushkin Press

 Hive | Foyles  | Waterstones | Topping & Co  | Mr B’sApple  |  Audiobook

Find & celebrate your local bookshop here




Hear the first chapter in full on the Women's Prize for Fiction’s 'Women we love: Literary Listen'

You can also listen to the music featured in the book: Spotify playlist




Also published by Penguin Books in Australia & New Zealand, Alba Editorial in Spain, Kein & Aber in Germany, Payot Rivages in France and Beyaz Baykus in Turkey




‘A beautifully written, funny, moving, life-affirming piece of wonder. I absolutely loved it. I was in love with pretty much every finely drawn character by the end’
– Julie Hesmondhalgh

‘Wise, witty, and utterly delightful. This is a book with a big, beating heart, and Rachel Elliott is a writer with a bright future’
– Laurie Penny

‘In an over-connected world, a crisp, beguiling voice observes chaos – and conjures miracles. Elliott is an inspired observer – fresh, wry and true’ 
– Liz Jensen

‘I began this book and couldn’t put it down. The writing’s exceptional. It’s wonderful. Dark, so often painful – a story of such depth, beauty and rigour. And I cared for everyone. Such a testament to the fragility in us all. Oh, and funny. Great scenes of funny'
– Sarah Winman

‘In her assured debut, which was longlisted for the Baileys prize, Rachel Elliott’s talent for capturing the revealing quirk in each of her troubled characters reflects her training as a psychotherapist. Humour always tempers Elliott’s handling of emotion as she points to eccentricities manifest in us all while we struggle to come to terms with past decisions and missed opportunities. As her characters gain deeper understandings of themselves, and our heroine gets a megaphone, there is hope that everybody can find their own voice’
the Guardian

‘A wonderfully clever look at the way we struggle to make meaningful relationships in our age of hyper-connectedness, instead relying on a ‘retweet’ or a ‘like’ to convey how we feel. This 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlistee is the ideal read to take along with you if you’re planning a bit of a digital detox this summer’
Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction blog, August 2016: 10 Brilliant Books By Women To Read This Summer

‘An engaging and accomplished debut. Through the interlaced stories of a colourful cast, Elliott asks big questions, and often provides the answers, about our fleeting existence here on earth... This succinct way of summing up a life falling apart is Elliott’s gift, supported by a deep understanding of what makes her characters tick... her knowledge of people shines in her fiction. For all its wit, it is the author’s gimlet eye on human interaction that will engage readers’
the Irish Times

‘This debut novel, longlisted for the Baileys Prize, is a charming story of growing, changing and overcoming our pasts, told with wit, insight and some colourful supporting characters’
Sunday Herald, Scotland 

‘Rachel Elliott’s debut novel is deserving of every word of praise. Whispers Through a Megaphone doesn’t just deserve to be shouted about – it needs to be yelled. Elliott’s turn of phrase throughout the novel is beautiful, and poignant, with elements of anger and vitriol throw in for good measure. It’s also incredibly funny. Think of any of the great Mike Leigh’s early films (especially the awesome Life Is Sweet and Secrets And Lies) and combine it with the warm wit and astuteness of the (much missed) Victoria Wood and you have Rachel Elliott in a nutshell. Whispers Through a Megaphone is much more than a glance at the human condition. It’s a mirror for our own insecurities and failings, and a much needed dose of satire to boot’
– If These Books Could Talk

‘Boy is this book funny. What I really loved about Rachel Elliott’s writing was her eye for the detail of people’s mannerisms... I would cackle loudly... There are some truly gorgeous set pieces of mini stories within the main one that show just how ridiculous we can all be, especially when we are wrapped up in our own dramas. Elliott beautifully catches these moments and it brings her characters fully to life. Whispers Through a Megaphone is an enjoyable, intriguing, witty and human debut novel and I am very much looking forward to what Rachel Elliott does next’
Simon Savidge

‘It’s charming and moving, insightful and generous, and a pleasure to read’
the Bookseller (Book of the Month)

‘An excellent first novel … a gentle yet unflinching look inside the heads of two very different characters whose paths cross when their lives are turning upside-down. The characters’ psyches are fascinating and complex, and the plot’s curveballs give enough to keep the reader engaged to the very end’
Publishers Weekly, New York

‘Filled with wit and sparkling prose, Rachel Elliott’s debut follows the quirky friendship between Ralph and Miriam as they try to make sense of their lives’
– HELLO! (Book of the Week)

‘Nothing less than a study of the contemporary human condition’
Dundee University Review of the Arts

‘As a literary debut, Whispers Through a Megaphone is so good it will give you chills and even if this was not Rachel Elliott’s first book, it is indescribably good’

‘A beguiling debut. Perceptive, touching, and threaded through with humour. I loved it’
Irish Examiner

‘A visceral psychological drama, leavened with humour and strung with the taut suspense of a thriller’
The Lady (must-reads, Aug 2016 | Best novels of 2016

‘Darkly funny and joyfully witty, it’s a resonant novel about finding an oasis of silence in the inescapable din of the modern world’

‘A lovely, lovely book, very dark in some places and in other places flooded with light... the writing is just glorious, threading through you as it guides all the different characters into place like beads on a string. A thoughtful, carefully-crafted novel, utterly gorgeous, and one that I know will linger’
– Waterstones Bookseller Review

‘[Elliott’s] insight and eye for character is profound and often surprising. This is a book to be read slowly, and to think about later: a wise, gentle book about human motivation and the hidden springs that move us through life’
– Book Trust

‘This debut is brilliantly perceptive, wry and completely original’
Bath Chronicle

'An exciting debut'
Big Issue North

‘A gentle, yet astute, edgy and absolutely delightful debut novel. Miriam fears her own emotions, Ralph runs away from his family and while Sadie shouts about her life all over social media, internal whispers refuse to remain buried. A profound sting of awareness comes as you contemplate the meaning of normal after peeking at the inner most thoughts and feelings of the characters. The characters feel so very real... it’s easy to feel a connection to them, to care about them. Rachel Elliott has a lovely light touch, yet she subtly prods and provokes your perception and understanding. Whispers Through a Megaphone (such a beautifully perfect title) is a quirk-filled slice of wonderful and I highly recommend it’ 
Lovereading (Debut of the Month & Ebook Favourite)

Whispers Through a Megaphone is a debut novel with three of the most unusual and charming protagonists I’ve met in a long time. The wacky and wonderful antics of Miriam, Ralph and Sadie had me in stitches, and left me pondering the strength of different types of human connection’
Audible Books

‘Every now and then comes a literary voice that is truly original. It is a remarkable achievement – fresh, invigorating, intelligent, inspirational and perceptive... acutely observant and intensely human... Elliott’s sparkling prose, warmth, wit and understanding of human frailty make this a journey of discovery full of unexpected joy, humour and hope. An extraordinary debut’
Lancashire Evening Post

‘Unexpected connections between people, old hurts and the nature of love are explored with tenderness and humour’
DIVA magazine

‘A quirky love story’
– Grazia

‘Psychological subtlety, charming style, we can’t help but be reminded of Anna Gavalda, whose tender and quirky humour can also be found in Rachel Elliott’s writing. The characters Rachel Elliott depicts are funny and quiet eccentric souls with their fixed beliefs, their doubts and their wanderings... Rachel Elliott is a psychotherapist and knows how to see through humans... she is deeply talented’
Elle, France

Whispers Through a Megaphone has a superpower: that of turning melancholy into fantasy, and one’s dark side into quirkiness... Following the steps of Aimee Bender and Michel Gondry, Rachel Elliott’s novel is a celebration of quiet, eccentric souls and says it loud and clear: humour and reverie can change our lives and perhaps even the world’
Le Figaro

‘A unique concentrate of love, funny and touching’

'[Whispers Through a Megaphone] delicately blends darkness and fantasy, and it’s delicious’
Le Monde

‘An uplifting book that shows us it’s never too late in life to form a friendship that is meaningful and gratifying. Great characters, an interesting plot and clever writing’
The Bookbinder’s Daughter

‘Elliott has a witty, comical way of writing... Whispers Through a Megaphone is about people in all of their many horrid, wonderful forms. It is an engaging and surprising read, in which each and every character who peppers the pages has his or her own personal crisis to deal with... The relationships which Elliott builds are complex, but one gets a feel for them almost as soon as each character is introduced, or each situation shifts. Whispers Through a Megaphone is full of depth; it is essentially about a whole cast of characters discovering themselves, and reclaiming some part of their past, or their future. A lovely uplifting read, which is perfect for every season’

‘I found myself really caught up in the lives of the characters... A real pleasure for me was the way the author structured the plot, it reminded me of a fishtail plait... Although this book tackled serious and heavy issues, I still came away with a smile on my face and nothing but pleasure at having spent time with the book, and Miriam especially, as company’
Danielle Culling, bookseller at Mr B’s

‘[Elliott] says what we often know deep down but have trouble connecting to... A lovely book that uncovers a lot in a short period of time, wading into tough waters whilst remaining something you want to go back to’
The Worm Hole | The Best of The Best 2016

‘I cannot recommend it enough! It’s an unusual, sweet, endearing and thought provoking read that would be perfect if you like books regarding family relationships, family secrets, kooky and sweet characters or past regrets and an identity crisis’
Of Beauty and Nothingness