#BookReview A BOOK AT BEDTIME by BARRIE SHORE



ABOUT THE BOOK


On a cold December Sunday, book-seller Jack Carter struggles to make breakfast for his wife Eva, whose dementia confines her body to her bed and her mind to a world of its own. Now memory and misremembering, invention and daydreaming combine to piece together their life story.

Jack wages a constant battle with Margaret, Eva’s carer, and tries to fend off Dodie, Eva’s bossy best friend, who thinks they’d both be better off in a home. He conjures ghosts from his past including his daunting mother and his mentor Bob Pride whose own past is linked with Oscar Wilde.

There is also The Great Man, a famous Dorset writer whom the boy Jack once met during his days as a book-seller’s assistant, and who choses this day to come and call. Comical and acerbic, he forces Jack to confront the past, until the truth finally emerges.

A moving by darkly funny story about memory, love, loss and forgiveness.

PUBLISHED BY MATADOR

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is one of those quiet, but stunningly powerful books that can’t help but get you emotionally involved in the lives of the characters.

This is the story of Jack and Eva, mostly told from the viewpoint of Jack as he cares for Eva who has dementia and can’t speak and is bedbound. It’s a look back at their lives together, interspersed with the realities of caring with a loved one with dementia and all that entails. It’s heartbreaking to hear his thoughts as he just wants to be with his wife, but the carers who come in to help complicate matters with ‘health and safety’ issues and you really get a sense of his frustrations – at them, the illness and all that has gone on through their lives together.

This is a story where he’s trying to make peace with the past as he looks back at various stages – from his childhood, when he first met Eva and to their lives together. Times have been unkind to them both and you really get a sense of that sadness. He finds solace in talking about The Great Man (Thomas Hardy, but never named!) he met, and his time working at the small bookshop where they currently live. It has become such an integral part of their life, despite the impracticality of their current situation. As he looks back, secrets of the past reveal themselves and finally get acknowledged when they didn’t at the time.

My heart was breaking for Jack as he tells you his story – his life has been tough and doesn’t seem to be letting up for him now in his dotage. The patience he shows for Eva is evident, but there’s also that conflicting emotion in him wishing her dead as there’s no dignity for her, or him, as she suffers with this illness. And having a viewpoint from Eva also allows you to see inside the world as she views it, which was really poignant and powerful. It isn’t afraid to confront the important issues such as dementia, sexuality and does so in a realistic way.

An emotional and beautiful story that has plenty to make the reader both laugh and cry. Highly recommended!

★★★★

My thanks to Netgalley for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview EDIE RICHTER IS NOT ALONE by REBECCA HANDLER #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK


Funny, acerbic Edie Richter is moving with her husband from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father. Before the move, Edie and her husband were content, if socially awkward―given her disinclination for small talk.

In Perth, Edie finds herself in a remarkably isolated yet verdant corner of the world, but Edie has a secret: she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. In some ways, the landscape mirrors her own complicated inner life, and rather than escaping her past, Edie is increasingly forced to confront what she’s done. Everybody, from the wildlife to her new neighbors, is keen to engage, and Edie does her best to start fresh. But her relationship with her husband is fraying, and the beautiful memories of her father are heartbreaking, and impossible to stop. Something, in the end, has to give.

Written in clean spare prose that is nevertheless brimming with the richness and wry humor of the protagonist’s observations and idiosyncrasies, Edie Richter is Not Alone is Rebecca Handler’s debut novel. It is both deeply shocking and entirely quotidian: a story about a woman’s visceral confrontation with the fundamental meaning of humanity.

MY REVIEW

I listened to this on audiobook.

This is one of those quiet, unassuming books that you find you can’t stop thinking about once you’ve finished the last page. It’s the story of Edie Richter who is dealing with a father who has dementia, and the stresses and strains that places on her and her family – and the feelings when he’s not around anymore and the consequences of her actions that can never leave her.

Edie is a very quiet character – seemingly just getting on with what life throws her way, while never showing what’s on the inside. We get inside her head so see the quandry and dilemmas she faces and that really comes to the fore when her and her husband move from America to Australia, and a different way of life and being so far from home allow her thoughts to fester and the strain begins to take its’ toll.

It’s a really touching book, full of humorous little sides, alongside the more heartbreaking and deeper emotional points that the reality of humanity shows us. The little observations that Edie encounters are perfectly portrayed and that inner battle with herself is just haunting to watch, as she finds it easier to open up to a stranger than her own family as she still puts on that brave face to most of the world.

The relationship with dad and daughter was extremely touching, and having had relations with dementia, I found myself totally understandin the ‘playing along’ with scenarios to keep the peace and not upset the sufferer. The unpredictability of the illness would make life very precarious for the family and watching people deal with it differently also added a different dimension.

A short read that really packs a punch!


★★★★