Looking for something to read over the weekend?
Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?
Then take a look at my Five Star Friday pick. It may be old. It may be new. But it is a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.
The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth came to mind today for a couple of reasons. I was looking through the books I have coming up to read and review, and noticed that Sally has a new book out next month, The Mother-in-Law, which made me think of The Things We Keep and of how much I loved it. The second reason is that it is almost the anniversary of the passing of a good friend of mine who was afflicted by this terrible disease. We shared not only our name, but a love of laughter, wine and gardening, often all at the same time! Sandra, I miss you, and this post is for you.
EXCERPT: Fifteen months ago. . .
No one trusts anything I say. If I point out, for example, that the toast is burning or that it’s time for the six o’clock news, people marvel. How about that? It is time for the six o’clock news. Well done, Anna. Maybe if I were eighty-eight instead of thirty-eight I wouldn’t care. Then again, maybe I would. As a new resident of Rosalind House, an assisted living facility for senior citizens, I’m having a new appreciation for the hardships of the elderly.
‘Anna, this is Bert,’ someone says as a man slopes by on his walker. I’ve been introduced to half a dozen people who look more or less like Bert: old, ashen, hunched over. We’re on wicker lawn chairs in the streaming sunshine, and I know Jack brought me out here to make us both feel better. Yes, you’re checking into an old folks home, but look, it has a garden!’
ABOUT THIS BOOK: With honesty and true understanding, Sally Hepworth pens this poignant story of one of today’s nightmares: early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.
MY THOUGHTS: I have to say – I Loved this book.
Sally Hepworth has done a wonderful job of humanising Alzheimer’s patients and the elderly in general. I have read and enjoyed other books about people with Alzheimer’s, most noticeably Still Alice by Lisa Genova, which was extremely informative about Alzheimer’s, but I learnt a more humanitarian lesson from The Things We Keep.
Anna Forster is only 38 years old and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She has elected to be placed in a care facility following an accident which could have claimed the life of her favourite nephew Ethan. There is one other resident of a similar age in Rosalind House, Luke, who suffers from a different variation of dementia. Anna has gone there to die, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with ‘young guy’ (Luke, Luke, Luke – if she says his name three times she night just remember it). As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
Sally Hepworth’s writing is beautiful, lyrical, never soppy, never sentimental. She shows great perception, great empathy, great understanding.
‘ If I don’t remember, will I have been here at all? ……Maybe it doesn’t matter what you remember. Maybe if someone else remembers and speaks your name, you were here.’
‘I might not remember this, but I’m glad I got to live it.’
Her characters are complex human beings. They have problems of their own; their own back stories, their own triumphs and tragedies. Hepworth reminds us that elderly people have lived and loved, that they deserve our time, our respect, our affection.
The Things We Keep is a keeper for me. It is on a very short list of ‘Never delete this book from my Kindle’.
THE AUTHOR: Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) and The Mother’s Promise (2017), and The Family Next Door (Feb 2018). Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.
Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.
Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan MacMillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1455296642