..and so it seemed a rather apt idea to take a look at books about people in the autumn of their lives. The three books I’ve chosen I think give a real sense of what life’s like for the elderly and where they fit in, or rather don’t fit in, in our society. And since I’m in charge here, I’ll start with one of my all time favourites, just because I can:
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Jumped out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Ok, firstly what’s not to love about this title ? Anyone who calls their book something like this has got to be a wee bit different right? And perhaps it’s due to the fact that Jonasson is Swedish that this story is so unlike anything I’ve read before. It reminds me a lot of Forrest Gump in that the main character, Allan Karlsson seems so innocent at the outset despite the extraordinary events of his life but as we delve a little deeper into his backstory we see that there’s also a harder side to Allan too,unsurprising when you take a look at his formative years. Allan’s story is so fantastical that you could almost believe it’s real and this is one of those rare treats of a book that you can go back to time and again without ever getting bored of it because there’s so much going on it it. In short it’s a great adventure story that you just won’t want to end,
Been made into a film? Yes, here’s the link to the trailer:
Marks out of ten: 10…and that’s all I have to say about that.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
More of a slow burner this one, though the mystery inherant in the story keeps you hooked right through until the end. I was kind of disappointed by the ending however as it seemed a bit of an anticlimax to me, it’s probably what would have happened in real life but hell, I read to get away from real life! Harold is another great character here, not entirely likeable but very real and in the latter stages of the book, we get to learn about the reasons for his failings. I’d describe this maybe as an OAP road trip during which Harold finds himself, a very very slow road trip as he is travelling on foot. Rachel Joyce has written a companion novel for this book written from the perspective of Harold’s friend, called “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” which I have yet to read. Has anyone given this one a go yet?
Marks out of ten: 7, although I was dithering between a 7 and an 8, so let’s call it a 7 1/2. I couldn’t second guess this book at all which appealed to me and I do love a good road trip but I did feel kind of a bit deflated by the end.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Out of the three books that I’ve reviewed here, this was the one that touched me the most for it’s telling of Maud’s story in the first person. Maud has lived with dementia for a while now and the world has become a bewildering place but despite all this Maud has retained her tenacity and determination to find out what has happened to her good friend, Elizabeth. But as we join Maud on her quest to decipher the notes she leaves for herself in an attempt to unravel the mystery, we journey back into her past and discover that there is another secret, lurking in the fog of her brain and threatening to break her heart all over again. Healy’s moving debut novel is not only heart breakingly moving but is also punctuated with moments of humour that had me laughing out loud. An excellent read that kept me guessing right up until the end.
Marks out of ten: 9