This is a weighty tome!
I am so glad that I got the Kindle version, as when I saw the size of the actual book itself last night (when I met up with the E17 Book Club at The Nags Head in Walthamstow Village), I probably would have felt a little overawed by it.
When I first started to read the book, i felt a bit lost. i felt like I had joined a story halfway through the telling, and I couldn’t quite grasp the characters, what they were doing, what the hell was going on – and if I hadn’t been reading it as part of a book club, I may well have given up.
However, I am really glad that I didn’t as within the first 100 pages, I realised that I was actually enjoying the story.
Albert & Enid are a couple in their twilight years. Albert is suffering from the onset of senile dementia (or similar) and Enid is fussing about him and desperate to get her three grown children back to the family for one last Christmas following a special holiday on a cruise ship for the two of them.
The book follows each child in turn – Chip, a failed academic who gets caught up in dodgy dealings in Lithuania; Denise, a talented chef with a weakness for older and married men; Gary, seemingly ‘settled’ with a wife and three boys of his own – but is he really the happy family man?
Denise’s story was definitely my favourite, and I really felt for her. Her full hostory also brings to light why Albert may have made the decisions that he has over the years.
The characters were really well written, although most of them weren’t very nice. And the one who was supposedly meant to be the nicest (Enid), I hated with a vengeance, and just wanted to slap her about a bit, all truth be told. My mate said last night that she couldn’t stand Albert and though he was nasty, but I think I hated Enid so much, that Albert’s bad temper seemed justified to me. i think I would’ve been nasty if I’d been stuck living with her for so many years! it’s funny how people perceive characters in different ways!
All in all, I really well written, entertaining and believable book with great characters, a lot of humour and a lot of depression – sounds like life, doesn’t it!?
I’d definitely read another of his books – but not for a while. It was long!