EXCERPT: When Eudora Honeysett hears the flip-clunk of her letterbox on this particular Thursday morning, her heart skips before she pulls it back down to earth like a rapidly descending hot air balloon. It will be junk mail as usual. Unsolicited junk. As she struggles to a standing position, retrieves her stick and anchors herself to gravity, Eudora marvels, not for the first time, at humanity’s ability to fill the world with unwanted junk. The oceans are stuffed with plastic, the landfills with broken three-year-old fridges, and her doormat with an endless littering of pizza leaflets, advertisements for retirement homes, and flyers from individuals offering to re-pave a driveway she doesn’t have. Occasionally, she casts a critical eye over the expensively produced retirement home brochures filled with photographs of smiling elderly couples toasting their successful move to the old person’s equivalent of a Premier Inn. Eudora can’t imagine anything worse. She was born in this house, and intends to die in this house, hopefully sooner rather than later.
ABOUT ‘EUDORA HONEYSETT IS QUITE WELL, THANK YOU’: Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.
But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?
MY THOUGHTS: Initially I didn’t particularly like Eudora Honeysett. We’ve all known an elderly woman like her, self-contained, forever correcting grammar and pronunciation, and complaining about everything. She doesn’t join in with anything, doesn’t associate with anyone. Her routine is rigid. She is lonely, but would never admit it. But as her life story was revealed, I began to understand her. By the end of the audiobook, I admired her.
This is the story of an elderly woman facing death, on her terms. This is not a depressing story. It is a story of hope. It is confirmation that it is never too late to start living, or to make friends.
It would have been easy to over-sentimentalise this tale, but Annie Lyons has adroitly avoided this trap. Instead it is poignant and touching, honest and realistic.
The character of Rose, the child next door, who inveigles herself into Eudora’s life, is a breath of fresh air. Rose is full of life, of joy de vivre. She is a force to be reckoned with, impossible to resist. She is a child who prefers the company of adults after being bullied at school. Her family adopts Eudora, and Rose and Stan, the man who rescues Eudora after a fall, slowly broaden Eudora’s horizons.
We all think about death and, naturally at her age, so does Eudora. Annie Lyons uses Eudora’s story to introduce us to the concept of the death doula, and the option of the arranged death. There is a lot of information contained in this story, unbiased and unemotionally presented.
Narrator Nicolette McKenzie does a wonderful job of the many different voices and I will be watching for her name on other recordings.
THE AUTHOR: After a career in bookselling and publishing, Annie Lyons published five books including the best-selling, Not Quite Perfect. When not working on her novels, she teaches creative writing. She lives in south-east London with her husband and two children.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Audio UK, One More Chapter via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You, written by Annie Lyons and narrated by Nicolette McKenzie. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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