Sometimes getting it wrong is the only way to get it right . . .
Frances Pilgrim’s father went missing when she was five, and ever since all sorts of things have been going astray: car keys, promotions, a series of underwhelming and unsuitable boyfriends . . . Now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine, teaching Shakespeare to rowdy sixth formers and still losing things.
But she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in. Frances could really do with someone to talk to. Ideally Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer when things got complicated . . .
As the new school year begins, and her mother’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, Frances realises that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?
The general theme of this book is one of self-reflection and loss. Francis at thirty-nine is dissatisfied with her life, things never work out. Still, tormented by her father’s departure from her life at age five she is faced with another family crisis as her mother succumbs to Alzheimer’s. Jackson’s hedonist tendencies lead him into conflict. Drawn together by mutual self-destruction, but as Frances’life implodes Jackson withdraws, and she has to face her past and uncertain future alone.
The excellent writing style elevates this story, it’s easy to read with characters that resonate, the storyline is sombre, no escapist reading here but the plot’s authenticity makes it memorable. I loved Frances’ interaction with ‘Dog’, this speaks volumes about the comfort she’s received from animal friends, and they never let her down like the humans in her life. If you like something different, this is worthwhile, but don’t expect to get a feel-good hug from reading this.
I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.