Readers’ Letters

A powerful message

I was struck by the absence of hate or indeed a desire for revenge. The underlying theme is a powerful message of forgiveness. T Hutchings. August 2022


Humanity thrums from every page

A mix of investigative journalism, psychological study and narrative non-fiction I’ve not read before. Humanity thrums from every page. Rory Carroll. May 2021


This book was important to me

I read ‘From a Clear Blue Sky’ and found it very moving. My own twin sister, Mariana, died in a car accident when we were 15 years old…I am now 37 years old, have a wonderful family, and realize it’s been a long time since I allowed myself to think of memories of my sister. This story (and book) was important to me, more than I can probably realize. Isabel P.L. 2 May 2019


Profound read

I found this book a profound read. Vera-Lee Nelson 13 July 2017.


Help others overcome their trauma

Your book helped immensely deal with the PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] I suffered whilst flying in the Military. So much so that I now help others overcome their trauma of Iraq and Afghanistan. Details supplied.



I couldn’t believe that 400 pages could be so gripping…It is so well written, so well researched and at the same time…very intimate. Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic 12 December 2015.


Held me captive

When HRH Prince Charles said he was visiting Ireland I hoped he would go to Classiebawn Castle, and what a marvellous job he did. It was seeing Timothy Knatchbull and the Prince on the front steps of the castle that made me buy Timothy’s book which has held me captive as I read…I have been so impacted by his book and in a deeply spiritual way. Timothy Knatchbull’s example of forgiveness is truly inspirational. Michael Lorimer 22 July 2015.


Sad and happy read

I enjoyed the sad and happy reading…To know that through all Timothy’s searching, to and fro’ing he has managed to “come full circle”; to say his goodbye to his twin brother Nicholas, and to now live his life as man, husband and daddy to the full is just wonderful…I’m sure his book has and will help many. Deidre Mistarz 16 December 2014


All the joys and sorrows of life

Once I started Timothy Knatchbull’s book I could not put it down. It had all the joys and sorrows of life; its ups and downs and I could identify with much of it. William O’Reilly

18 September 2014


An act of terror

I congratulate Timothy Knatchbull on writing such an open, honest and heart aching account of his journey…incredibly compelling. Let any man wishing to defend an act of terror read his story first, it would stop them in their tracks. David McCoy 27 May 2014


Ease and grace

I want to congratulate Timothy Knatchbull on writing such a beautiful and heartfelt book…he does it with such unforced ease and grace. Mark McDevitt 1 February 2014


Terrific reportage

One particular delight of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was reading Timothy Knatchbull’s From a Clear Blue Sky. Tim’s meticulous reconstruction of the horrible event was really terrific reportage, when you consider he was working with quarter-century year older source material. Beyond the good reporting, my favorite section was Part Three, where he limbers up from the strict disciplined transcription of events and just talks about his own inner experience of going back in time to get honest with himself. Time and again we see what tragedy is for. Tragedy doesn’t make us happier. It makes us better. John Coots 3 December 2013


Deep and meaningful

Very informative and personal … the deep and meaningful self-recovery that Timothy Knatchbull has been through. Andy Mudd, BLESMA, 15 July 2013


Personal and intimate

From a Clear Blue Sky is such a personal and intimate exploration of Timothy Knatchbull’s experiences that I find it difficult to adequately convey how moving I found the book. So I will just say congratulations and thank you for writing it. Jill Hugessen 7 May 2013


Extraordinary and beautiful

I am someway through the audio version of From a Clear Blue Sky (which I am listening to as I do DIY on our house in the evenings and weekends)…it is an extraordinary and beautifully written account and I look forward to finishing it. Luke Wordley 4 March 2013


A story without any mawkishness or self-pity

From a Clear Blue Sky is a terrific book: lucid, unsentimental, moving, and beautifully written. I found it gripping. Tim Knatchbull tells his story without any mawkishness or self-pity. As a fellow journalist, I liked the way he treated diverse sources – interviews, diaries, his own observations and reflections – and melded them into a complete narrative. Luke Harding

14 January 2013


Beautifully crafted

A beautifully crafted and touching book. William Reed 16 September 2012


Open to forgiveness

From a Clear Blue Sky is a truly inspirational book not only for those who have suffered a loss such as [Timothy Knatchbull’s] but for anyone who wants to understand and is open to forgiveness. Carol Barnes 15 September 2012


A noble book

I take my cue from poets like Heaney and Longley…Timothy Knatchbull has written a noble book. Sir Kenneth Bloomfield 30 August 2012


A book I will return to again and again

I found Timothy Knatchbull’s book very sad but also very uplifting and full of inspiration from his great courage and humanity. I am sure it is a book that I will return to again and again.

John Cunningham 25 July 2012


Sorrow and admiration

By accident rather than design I came across Timothy Knatchbull’s book From a Clear Blue Sky and read it with both sorrow and admiration. Sorrow because the events he describes were so terrible and admiration because by writing the book he has tried to lay to rest so many ghosts. Bryan Pennington 19 July 2012


Moved and mesmerized

I was so moved and mesmerized by Timothy Knatchbull’s book; it took me back to our stays at Classiebawn in the 60’s and 70’s as Americans who rented the castle from his grandfather. Reading this book has put so much into context and perspective for me… helping me to realize the beauty, the people, the gift that is Classiebawn truly exists and that it is not an exaggerated notion from my childhood. Beth Nichols 9 April 2012


To see beyond the bad days

People like Timothy Knatchbull are always good enough to see beyond the bad days and recognise the innate goodness in so many people here [in Ireland]. Something that has always been here but was often overlooked. Alan Boyd 17 January 2012


Beautifully constructed book

Timothy Knatchbull is an astonishing person to have been able to write such a beautifully constructed book that balances his personal journey with such in-depth analysis of others’ experiences and the culture at the time of those awful events in 1979. Josephine Atkins

14 January 2012


The Troubles

Unfortunately I was touched by the Troubles from a very early age. I came across Timothy Knatchbull’s book by chance and am in awe of how he managed to continue with his life. He is an inspiration to us all. Nadine Williamson 3 January 2012


Got under my skin

Timothy Knatchbull’s book quite got under my skin. I read it slowly absorbing every detail, emotion, event…it’s a great book. Lorelle Harker 9 December 2011


Forgive and let go

In the past I haven’t found it easy to forgive and let go. In 2009 I saw Timothy Knatchbull’s TV interview in which he spoke of forgiveness and it made me feel humbled. His is a truly remarkable story and I feel a better person for reading his book. Jane McDermott 6 October 2011


Summer reading

Timothy Knatchbull’s book was the highlight of my summer reading. Mary Carney

21 August 2011


How easily we accepted the madness

In August 1979 I was a student working near Cliffoney, Co Sligo. Reading Tim Knatchbull’s book has made me realise how easily we all, myself included, accepted the madness that was going on all around us at that time. Steve Carty 8 August 2011


Pursuit of the truth

I congratulate Tim Knatchbull on writing such a wonderful, inspirational book. He is a talented writer who handled this horrific tragedy with such thoughtful honesty. I admire his pursuit of the truth no matter where it took him. Bernadette Lynch 2 August 2011


Quite extraordinary

Timothy Knatchbull’s ability to find forgiveness and compassion was, and remains, something quite extraordinary, from which we could all learn. Dr Sophia Hillan, author of

‘May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen’s nieces in Ireland’ 19 July 2011


An author’s integrity

I was deeply moved and very impressed with Timothy Knatchbull’s book. I missed his company when I’d finished it, as if I’d made a valued new friend whom I had to part from – a sure sign of an author’s integrity. Ann Henning Jocelyn 23 May 2011


Immense courage

From a Clear Blue Sky is beautifully written. Only immense courage could support such openess and compassion. Arnold Hiatt 15 May 2011


Let spirits rest

I admire Timothy Knatchbull’s courage … the life he has built around him… and [having] reached closure to let spirits rest. Nargis Jamal 9 May 2011


The brutality and thoughtlessness of conflict

The clarity of thought and its portrayal is remarkable. The captivation of thoughts and memories as a young boy is exceptionally and emotionally depicted so that the reader enters Tim Knatchbull’s innermost personal moments. His book is an open message to others who may have suffered because of the brutality and thoughtlessness of war and conflict to see what they have lost or are missing. Tim’s style is simple and heart-driven with no malice or bias. His phraseology, in its context, is flawless and I find his expressions to be spontaneous and heart-wrenching at the same time. Ros Thomas 23 March 2011



What really sets this book apart from other human journeys and tragedies is Timothy Knatchbull’s own personality and attitude to life… The non-judgemental tone, the integrity, the humour and above all the love and compassion with which it is written make it so important and life-affirming. Marita Crawley 16 March 2011


The audio book was beautifully read by Tim Knatchbull

When I was given this audio book for Christmas, and found there were 12 discs I thought this would take months to hear. I was wrong. I found it all so fascinating that in a fortnight I had completed it. I thought the book was beautifully read.

John Crammond 12 March 2011


Gripped by a stirring of deep feelings

From the very title to the last page I found myself gripped by a stirring of deep feelings. Once I started to read I found it very difficult to put down, but when it was time to continue I found myself troubled at the knowledge of how it would affect my innermost thoughts…The portrayal of the love and bravery of the Knatchbull family were so poignantly expressed.

Colonel RL Cowling 28 February 2011


A great resource for others

A great resource for others searching for some understanding. Jenni Thomas OBE

(Grief Support, Training & Facilitation) February 2011


Those moments in time

I lost my own daughter aged two in 1986. Timothy Knatchbull’s book about himself, his brother and family touched me deeply. I appreciated the detail, those moments in time.

Fenella Dunn 5 January 2011


Powerful writer

Timothy Knatchbull has dealt with all aspects of that dark time in as sensitive and as intelligent a manner as any other work I’ve read that deals with tragedy of this proportion. He is a powerful writer with an incisive understanding of the best in the human condition; and I found his book inspiring. Michael Goodspeed 13 January 2011


Total honesty

Knatchbull’s total honesty touched me deeply. Most of the time people do not have the capacity of detaching themselves from their emotions to analyse intelligently others’ reactions and anger. I was very moved. Artur Reis e Sousa 27 January 2011


A magnetism

I have just read Tim Knatchbull’s book for the third time. Each time I get something else from it. The book has a magnetism yet it is so sad. Betty Heath December 2010


An original book

An original book, it moved me very much and made me feel awake to the fragility of life, death and mourning. Jasmine Dunne 9 November 2010


Tremendously moved

I loved Timothy Knatchbull’s book, and read it non-stop on the plane. So much so that a flight attendant came to me three quarters of the way through the flight to ask what book was so absorbing me. I really couldn’t put the book down and I was tremendously moved by it.

Barbara Taylor Bradford 1 November 2010


Courageous at every level

A magnificent account – courageous at every level, frank, fair, moving (intensively so), altogether admirable. David Sutcliffe 18 October 2010


A story that has great potential to promote peace and true understanding

Tim Knatchbull’s story is not intended to be in any way political. And yet it is a story that has great potential to promote peace and true understanding between the British and Irish peoples. It is a story written by a man who has fought hard to come to peace with himself. We cannot give in life until we first make peace with ourselves. He says that if he were to be reborn and God asked him how he would like to come back, and there were no places available as an Englishman, he would be sorely tempted to come back as an Irishman. As far as I am concerned, he would be very welcome. Niall Lenihan 6 September 2010


An unpretentious account

A good, unpretentious account with no ‘splother’ as my father would have said.

Alan Bennett 19 August 2010


Courage and tenacity

This book and Knatchbull’s struggles are a lesson to all of us.

Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) RR Crabbe 17 August 2010



I do not know when I have been so moved, and entranced, and enthralled by any book.

Mary Strathmore 11 August 2010


Dispelling Victorian attitudes

Devastatingly frank and open… the Knatchbull family example could serve to help dispel some of the Victorian attitudes to coping with tragedy. Michael Billett OBE 26 July 2010


Eloquent account of a magical place

An eloquent account of coming to terms with the pain of loss, it is also a powerful evocation of Mullaghmore. Reading this book awoke many memories of that magical place. Philip Browne

4 June 2010


An extraordinary achievement

I enjoyed it – if that is anyway the right word – every page of it and thought it was an extraordinary achievement written with remarkable candour, sensitivity and generosity.
David French 8 May 2010


If I was on a desert island, I’d take it with me

I recently read From a Clear Blue Sky. What a book, in fact if I was on a desert island, I’d take it with me. It is easy to read, full of so many explanations of Ireland, the complications that lie there … it makes me feel very humble. Liz Edwards 23 April 2010


The chord of love between brothers will resonate with me for a very long time

I found From a Clear Blue Sky compelling and chastening and at times unbearably moving. The book does what it set out to do, nothing could be clearer than that and it has been done extraordinarily well. I sometimes had to stop for a moment to gulp back a sob. The chord of love between brothers will resonate with me for a very long time. Timothy was brave to go to the very end of the quest. And of course there’s Paul Maxwell and his father too. The grown-ups teach a lesson or two as well. Details supplied


A love story

I am the father of identical twin boys. My wife said, how can you read such a terrible story, and I was able to answer her, “It is a love story”. This brave and unflinchingly honest book touched me profoundly. Jeremy Wayne 19 March 2010


Careful recounting of the legal proceedings

…entrancing part of the book was the careful recounting of the legal proceedings against the attackers. It was a great moment to an American, enmeshed as we seem to be on our side of the Atlantic in trying to figure out how to deal with terrorist attacks without losing our democracy. With lapses in ancient jurisprudence to be sure, the UK seems to have done a saner job in that area than we have. I was interested every step of the way, in the apprehensions and subsequent court proceedings of the assassins. That it was described clinically, without rancor or bile, attested eloquently to the success of the project of healing.
Saul Diskin 2 March 2010


A cathartic voyage and a ripping yarn

I am not sure what Tim Knatchbull has produced. Neither novel nor memoir, nor self-help nor blog but a work which combines elements of all. It is like accompanying him on a therapeutic, cathartic voyage and a ripping (very sad) yarn at the same time.

Hannah Alexander 2 March 2010


The exotic experience of identical twins

The book is one of the few which delves into the healing necessary to be undergone by the surviving twin. It is also one of the few that does not either descend into the technical nor the revoltingly mawkish. The straight, declarative rendition of the events and the aftermath, describing Knatchbull’s journey toward health, becomes more powerful in its understatement. It invites the reader into the exotic experience of identical twins. Saul Diskin 2 March 2010


The book exudes such compassionate humanity

I think the book is the best account of grief I have ever read and because Timothy so eloquently names and speaks of feeling and processes that are usually hidden from the conversations of everyday life, I found it enormously comforting. The book exudes such compassionate humanity too, due I think to Timothy’s evocation of political, social and economic drivers along with the deeply personal. Such a painful journey but ending with hope and resolution. Inspirational. Pamela Leadbetter 15 November 2009


Gobsmackingly intelligent

A gobsmackingly intelligent book with, among many deeply personal insights, some highly interesting analysis of the Irish psyche. Peter Mantle 26 October 2009


A very human account of a terrible event

I know how … difficult some of the research and the writing must have been. But Timothy Knatchbull has produced a very human account of a terrible event and his compassion and his feeling for his twin come through very clearly. John de Chastelain 22 October 2009


Intolerable suffering

I was struck by the subtlety of the words, the intelligence and lack of ego, the sense that Timothy Knatchbull could only have arrived at such alchemy from an intolerable suffering, the braveness of his engagement with it. I met him years ago at a Lone Twin Network meeting. I congratulate him so much for the book and all he is doing. Kate Behrens 21 October 2009


Journey back into the darkness that captured all my attention

The structure, pacing and presentation make the narrative not only compelling but impossible to put down. The depth and scope of the research is unbelievable. And the personal details of not only the writer and his family, but the details of friends, witnesses, investigators and other victims adds greatly to the richness and power of the narrative. Yet it is the journey back into the darkness that captured all my attention, empathy, sympathy and, most importantly, respect. Peter Van D Emerson, Harvard College, 31 August 2009

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  • 'It is one of the most intensely moving stories I have ever read, and I was gripped from the first page.'

    Barbara Taylor Bradford

    'Testament to a remarkable, benevolent soul...With this public love letter he has found a way to say goodbye’. Sunday Times

    ‘It is one of the most penetrating and humane books to have emerged from the Troubles.’

    Irish Independent

    'This amazingly clear-headed and mature book...Intelligent, honest, tender and so moving that it should come with a warning to read this in private because you're going to be in a tear-stained mess.’ Daily Mail

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