Paperback: 330 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Corsair 2014
Source: Supplied to me by Lovereading as a member of the Reader Reviewed Books Panel.
First Sentences: It's a Thursday afternoon and Meredith is staring at a pot of yogurt.
Favourite Quote: 'Become all touchy-feely?' To flounce through life with my arms wide open?'
Review Quote: Tom Winter delights with a deadpan turn of phrase (Daily Mail).
My Opinion: Extremely poignant read.
I had never come across Tom Winter before being offered this title to review by a readers panel that I am on. In fact I doubt I would have chosen to read this book myself so I am grateful I was given this opportunity because it is an extremely poignant read. Dementia is at the heart of this novel and it is dealt with through humour as well as sensitivity. Written in language that is clear, succinct and so expressive that even though it is a traumatic subject the author is writing about he manages to lighten the story in a humorous way. In fact this heart moving novel impacted on me so much that when shortly after finishing the novel I came across an initiative called 'Dementia Friends' I was inspired to find out more.
The protagonists of the story are forty three year old non identical twins Jack and Meredith, whose worlds are currently crumbling around them. Meredith is not coping at all well with the break up of her marriage leaving her to deal alone with teenage offspring. The children Jemima and Luke also have problems undoubtedly not helped by the fact that their father has gone off with another woman. Jemima is playing a dangerous game on-line and her brother is being bullied at school. Unfortunately Meredith is too traumatised by her failed marriage to cope with much else apart from diligently visiting her own mother in a local nursing home and her father's grave.
It is her twin Jack that shakes up life for them all somewhat when he suddenly starts to spend more time with his sister, niece and nephew when his own high flying life style starts to crumble around him. Seeking solace from each other the trauma in their lives seems to escalate as they not only discover by chance that the father they thought was dead may not be so. However with their mother sinking daily into the ever deeper depths of Dementia they do not stand much chance of finding out the truth from her.
Narrated in the present day interspersed with flashbacks from five to forty-five years the reader gradually gets a fuller picture of the twins life as they grew up. As truths are revealed the twins discover that life is not always as simple as one thinks.
Exactly what these revelations are you will have to read for yourself to find out. I can not think of anyone I would not recommend this to, certainly a good choice for book clubs as so much to discuss.
Tom Winter is a British writer living in Berlin. His début novel, Lost & Found, was published in five languages. In August 2013 it was chosen as the Book of the Month by the Mail on Sunday's You Magazine book club. That summer, the Kindle edition was also a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon UK.
Tom's second book, Arms Wide Open, will be published on 17 April 2014. He is currently working on his third novel, Days of Wonder, which will be published in August 2015.
He lives alone, with a potted plant and an assortment of noisy neighbours.