This takes place in England and the style of writing seems to reflect that in some of its writing style and a serious tone/ perspective on a family dealing with Alzheimer’s. Hanna returns home and has opposing ideas how to deal with her Mother’s decline. She prefers distraction and varied experiences vs. Dad who is very much into protective mode and daily routine. Each member chooses how they wish to deal with the reality of the disease, none of which change the decline of Biddy, the wife/mother. The toll of everyone ‘s health and mental well being becomes a heavy burden and responsibility.
Lately, I’ve been reading several novels dealing with Alzheimer’s to help with my friend’s family who is dealing with this. It is devastating and affects everyone in the family differently. It has been researched and the insight to be gained by reading these novels is a learning experience for anyone, whether or not touched by Alzheimer’s.
This book had an extremely relevant topic, which will touch many people who read the novel. I have very little first hand knowledge of Alzheimers but the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with a sufferer came across loud and clear in the storyline. Biddy’s family are divided about the kind of care that she should receive and each deals with her condition in very different ways. Some are hands-on, some challenge poor Walter, Biddy’s husband about the style of care he has opted for and some just stay away. It’s a very sad novel and probably a real reflection of what it’s like to watch a loved one slip away at the hands of such a disease.
Of all the characters, I felt that Biddy herself was the most well drawn. I wanted to like Hanna but for that, she needed much more depth. There was an unrealism about the airline thread and I think much more could have been made of that, to stop it just being a book about the disease with more action played out on the journalist issue. It felt as though there were threads in the novel which weren’t grasped hold of, as though the characters wanted to have a mind of their own and were denied it. Without giving spoilers, there were possible relationships that could have been exploited to add another angle and a bit more interest. I felt like the epilogue was a bit of a slap in the face. It was a diary of events that told me more than I got throughout the whole novel. One thing I really struggled with was the lack of contractions in speech. It felt really wooden because real people don’t speak like that.
It has the potential to be a great story, but needs a tidy up with stronger plot lines outside of what Biddy does each day and how Walter does or doesn’t cope with it. The research about Alzheimers is faultless. The reader is left in no doubt how cruel the disease is or the conflicts which rage for carers, not to mention the outside pressures and physical realities for them. With a bit more umph, this novel can be something a carer picks up and finds light relief in, whilst understanding that the author knew exactly how they were feeling.