Review of Bookends by Jane Green @JaneGreen @PenguinUKBooks #uplit #chiclit #review #UK #US #bookshops #books #friendship #kindness #food

Bookends
By Jane Green
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author

JANE GREEN IS THE AUTHOR OF TWENTY NOVELS, INCLUDING SEVENTEEN NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS, ONE COOKBOOK, AND VARIOUS SHORT STORIES.

She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide. She has been part of the ABC News team, has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and has made regular appearances on TV and radio.
She contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.
A graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York, Green is an avid cook, amateur decorator, and passionate gardener. She is also a regular storyteller for The Moth.
A resident of Westport, Connecticut, she lives there with her husband, a small menagerie of animals, and (too) many children.

Blurb

On the shelf, but still best friends . . .

Bookends CoverCath is scatty, messy and guarded. While Si is impossibly tidy, bitchy and desperate for a man of his own. They are total opposites – but equally unlucky in love. And they’ve stuck together through thick and thin. Because that’s what best friends do.

So when their beautiful friend Portia – the undisputed queen of their group of friends at university – steps back into their lives, after a ten year gap, her reappearance tests both Cath and Si’s friendship to the limit.

What does Portia want? Will she be a force for good in their lives, or something darker? And will Cath and Si ever get lucky in love?

 

Review

This isn’t a brand new book, it is one I have read a few times and felt like reviewing as I raided my shelves in my book cupboard. Being published in 2000, it has topical themes and all the themes of life don’t really change and it still feels as fresh and relevant as it did then. It can still be bought and may be on some library shelves. It is interesting that the cover has changed a few times over the years. Below are some of the UK (top 3) and US (bottom 2) cover versions.

This story takes readers on life’s journey with main character Cath along with Si – her great friend, Josh – her transient friend and Portia – her soulmate. This at the beginning is how she saw these main people who are in her social circle at university.

Portia is the first character to be really introduced. She comes from a rich background and Cath had assumed all was perfect when they were students, except its readers will soon learn that was perhaps not quite so. Cath, Si and Josh drift away from her as she hurt other friends of theres.

Si is a film editor in Soho and wants to find his Mr Right. Whether there is the perfect romance for him or not, you’ll just have to find out by reading the book. He certainly looks for it and I always find myself rooting for him.

Josh works within mergers and acquisitions and within this circle of friends. He is also married to Lucy, but is suspected of having an affair.

Cath is single after a 2 year distasterous relationship where she decides not to open herself up to love ever again, although whether she sticks to that vow she makes to herself or not remains to be seen.

Si is like a great best friend, he is written a bit like on a wish list of friends. He is written as caring for Cath and a lover of fashion and tries to perk her up on Bond Street, London. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. He can be moody at times and that would be frustrating. The characterisation of Si is excellent.

Lucy and Cath set up a bookshop together that’s made of so many people’s dreams. Lots of lovely books and a cafe area with the most scrumptious sounding cakes and pastries. What’s not to like? A book about frienship and how everyone interacts with each other and their lives and this lovely bookshop. The book is simply so wonderful and that is why I wanted to re-read it.

There’s romance and twists and this book is compelling. It’s one to devour and is so hard to put down once started, everything about it is so divine. The more the book goes on the more the characters almost enthrall and then there’s Portia who is mysterious and the question of what she really wants builds. She has some sort of effect on everyone’s lives one way or another.

There’s really shockingly sad heartbreak that is handled so sensitively and so believable. I won’t say to whom or what it is as it would spoil the story.

This book has everything in it. I enjoy Jane Green’s books but thus far this is my favourite of hers and one I am certain to return to again.

Uplit is the latest buzz word in literature and this book has kindness, friendship and although there is heartbreak, there are enough elements that will lift people’s spirits too.

Jane’s latest book is called The Friends We Keep and was published on June 4th 2019.

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Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls @DavidNWriter @HodderBooks #SweetSorrow #SummerReads #Summer #ComingofAge #NewBook #Review #Fiction

Sweet Sorrow
By David Nicholls
Rated: 4 stars ****

About the Author

David Nicholls is the bestselling author of USONE DAYSTARTER FOR TEN and THE UNDERSTUDY. His novels have sold over 8 million copies worldwide and are published in forty languages. David’s fifth novel, SWEET SORROW, was published by Hodder in July 2019. 

David trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is an award-winning screenwriter, with TV credits including the third series of Cold Feet, a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About NothingThe 7.39 and an adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. David wrote the screenplays for Great Expectations (2012) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015, starring Carey Mulligan). He has twice been BAFTA nominated and his recent adaptation of Patrick Melrose from the novels by Edward St Aubyn won him an Emmy nomination. 

His bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and in 2006 David went on to write the screenplay of the film version.

His third novel, ONE DAY, was published in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award.

David’s fourth novel, US, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 and was another no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. In 2014, he was named Author of the Year 

Blurb

One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

Sweet Sorrow DN cover

Review

Sweet Sorrow – part of a quote of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Sweet Sorrow is one of the themes that runs throughout the book and one that David Nicholls deals with great skill to create a story of a man in his thirties looking back at life when he was 16 in 1997.

The beginning is dramatic to say the least: The world would end on Thursday at 3:55pm after the disco. That is what is decided in the world of school leavers on their last day of school. I must say, it certainly grabs attention. The graffiti and the scrawled messages on shirts friends messages is something many will be able to relate to. The last day of term is perfectly described with an almost tangible atmosphere and one which so many people would remember from their school days. There’s the usual teacher and lovers dancing to the slow music. There’s the awkwardness of people too such as between Charlie and Helen and when Charlie Lewis danced with Emily, who has more feelings for him that he does for her, which is such sweet sorrow. There’s also the worrying of exam results and the thoughts of completely failing.

There is some really touching writing when Charlie wishes he spoke to his school friends more. This in itself is thought-provoking about the way society can be now and back then and made me wonder how many people wish they just made that little bit more effort to keep in touch with others, and how in the future, even with all the technology to hand, there may be people who wish they had kept in touch with others more and differently. David Nicholls in his writing just seems so insightful.

Charlie’s life is not an easy one. His mum started a new life and job. This means a lot of caring for his dad, where there is a plenty of worrying times. The book highlights that sometimes life is unfair at times and can be really tough.

David Nicholls does give his main character – Charlie Lewis some hope when he meets Fran Fisher and his life changes. She belongs to the Full Fathom Five Theatre Co-operative, who are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. He ended up joining the group, not that he really wanted to, he only wanted Fran’s phone number. David Nicholls shows great understanding and observation of young love and writes it characteristically of that age.

Later in the book there’s a party that is attended by Charlie. It is illustrated through the wonderful descriptions. Fran and Charlie do have their first kiss and it is a really lovely , tender romantic scene is painted. The writing is evocative and is so beautifully and tastefully written. As the book moves on readers will find out about what happens within this relationship.

The story twists and turns in the most unexpected ways as incidents happen and the book gathers a bit more pace as the tone changes.

There’s sweet sorrow again, like there was on that last day of school, but this time on the performance days of Romeo and Juliet through the description of mixed feelings of sadness it will be over with, but also glad. There are some heartwarming moments of his dad and what he thinks of his son acting his part out.

The book has a great ending and in its closing pages, it takes readers to years later and it makes for some very interesting reading to see what happened to the characters, now they have grown up.

Ultimately, David Nicholls captures adolescence very well. It is moving, holds some humour within it, amongst some sadness, bittersweetness, sweet sorrow within the big themes of life, which are written exquisitely. It is a vivid book. It is so picturesque in some of the descriptions and yet nothing is over described.  It is written exceptionally well and whether you have read a book by David Nicholls before or not, I recommend you give this perceptive book a read.

A Book for Each Day of the Week #TheStrawberryThief @Joannechocolat #SummerattheKindnessCafe @Vicky_Walters #TheHangryHamster #SealedWithADeath @JamesSilvester1 #TheLongestFarewell @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 #summer #bookish #crime #kidslit #romance #France #UK #Thriller #summerreads #review Resume of Reviews of 7 Great Books for Summer and Beyond

A resume of 7 great books I have read over the summer and beyond.

I have read and reviewed a number of books this summer. I thought I would give a quick resume of 7 of them. Full reviews are also in my blog. I have also provided individual links to the full reviews. Please do take a look, you may be inspired or reminded of a good book.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – Fiction

Strawberry thief

The Strawberry Thief is the latest part of the Chocolat series, written by Joanne Harris

This book sees Vianne Rocher back in Lansquenette-Sous Tannes during Easter with strawberries and chocolate filling the senses. There’s also a change in the wind as there is excellent writing, truth and emotion in the writing as Anouk has grown up and flown the nest. This is in contrast to Rosette who cannot do this part of life.
Roux still lives on the boat, preferring his own company and there is a new character called Morgane Dubois.
The writing of the wind is beautifully descriptive and tells the reader there’s much more than just the wind to come and that it is meaningful. The growing up of children who fly the nest and set up their own lives is relatable. The book will arouse anyone’s senses and emotions. It is just as good as the previous 3 books within this series. The descriptive writing is atmospheric and adds to the intrigue as to how this book will end.

Note, there is also an added afterward about Joanne’s own experience of her daughter leaving home and there is a poignant, well-written short story in print copies only of this book that are well-worth reading.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/06/02/the-strawberry-thief-by-joanne-harris-an-exquisite-atmospheric-and-poignant-book-5-stars-joannechocolat-orionbooks-gigicroft-thestrawberrythief-review-newbook-waterstones

 

Summer at the Kindness Cafe by Victoria Walters – Fiction

Summer at Kindess Cover (1)

Enter Brew – Kindness Cafe this summer and you won’t be disappointed. Enter Brew and be inspired to do your own random acts of kindness this summer, like the three women within this story.

Abbie Morgan is the main protagonist and is forced to leave London after being made redundant, something so relatable to many people.
Within the book there are sections called “Notes from the Brew Kindness Board”. This may inspire some people to follow-suit and do random acts of kindness. Get to know the characters and their personalities and see if Acts of Kindness transforms their lives or not.
Once the story has ended, turn the page for a lovely note by the author.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/06/18/summer-at-the-kindness-cafe-by-victoria-walters-this-summer-be-encapsulated-in-warmth-kindness-and-life-vicky_walters-teambatc-summeratthekindnesscafe-randomthingstours-annecater-randomactof

The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey – Fiction

hangry hamster

Have fun with this children’s book. Billy gets a hamster and takes him everywhere, until the hamster isn’t allowed on the plane when Billy is going abroad. The hamster gets left behind and becomes hangry and goes on an adventure through London. Take a read of this adventurous, exciting, humorous, well illustrated book, written by a child for children.

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/07/14/the-hangry-hamster-by-grace-mccluskey-a-short-action-packed-book-to-engage-and-excite

Sealed with a Death – Fiction

Sealed with a Death Book Cover

Would you like a great political thriller? Give Sealed with a Death by James Silvester a try.

This book has got to be placed up there in one of the most current book in fiction there currently is. James Silvester writes very well and at excellent pace, in conveying what is happening and mixing it with his fictional. Meet Lucie Musilova – an assassin working as part of the Overlappers Intelligence Team. Women across many countries in Europe start to disappear, Kasper Algers, an Independent MP disappears and there’s still the case as to what happened to Ines Aubel. Readers are also taken into the world of brothels and further into the world of espionage and fake passports.

The book takes us to the far right of British politics and also to France where there’s the Gilet Jaune movement and the author takes this element into Britain. There’s also a focus on the everyday prejudices, pay as well as the cuts to police resources.

I have to say, I was impressed by not just how current this book is, but also the calibre of writing, considering the time it takes to write a book, especially well and how politics moves along at the moment. The language and tone of all the characters is believable, there’s no holding back!

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/07/15/sealed-with-a-death-by-james-silvester-jamessilvester1-urbanebooks-lovebookstours-politicalthriller-thriller-espionage-newreview-newbook

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft – Fiction

A Summer to Remember Cover

Clancy Moss is the main character, leaving her old life to start a new one. There’s romance, there’s social, tourism and education issues that are dealt with. From beginning to end this book has so much of human life and yet it feels as light as summer, and still it skillfully has meaningful substance. It is a most enjoyable and absorbing read of break-up, romance and life’s trials and tribulations and escapism. A Summer to Remember is a book to remember this summer and for more summers to come.

Please note, there is also an added short story in physical print copies of this book that is worth reading.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/07/24/a-summer-to-remember-by-sue-moorcroft-a-delightful-summer-read-suemoorcroft-avonbooksuk-summer-summerreads-heatwave-review-newbooks-ebookpromo-norfolk-romance

 

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew – Non-Fiction

zippy cover

Ronnie Le Drew is best known as being the puppeteer for Zippy in children’s TV show – Rainbow. It is a well written autobiography about becoming a puppeteer, his starting out at the The Little Angel Theatre. Some of the hard time he had to go through (not a sob-story though, it is better than that). and the people he worked with such as Jim Henson and David Bowie. Ronnie comes across as being down-to-earth as he never forgets his roots. This book is also about a bit of Rainbow scandal and what happened to the people working in it afterwards. It is nostalgic to say the least. Readers will get a look of behind the scenes of Ronnie’s puppeteer work, which makes it a fascinating read.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/08/02/zippy-and-me-by-ronnie-le-drew-with-duncan-barrett-and-nuala-calvi-re-visit-your-childhood-with-this-enlightening-book-about-rainbow-zippyandme-punchand-unbounders-duncanbarrett-nualacalvi-rai

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet – Non-Fiction

The Longest Farewell book pic

 Condensing my review down, only goes a little into what is really within the pages of this book. I will say it is a very worthy book to read, so please do take a look at the full review of it. I will also say it is the most emotional book of the summer. Nula Suchet’s husband James who, at the age of 57 had Picks disease – a form of dementia and this is chronicled very well in this book, with every heart-felt sentence. John Suchet’s wife – Bonnie also had dementia. It is heartbreaking and there is also so much love as Nula cares for James, who does go into a care home, but that is also where she meets John, who is there visiting his Bonnie. It is also about the relationship that develops between John and Nula and their travels together, that at first don’t exactly go smoothly. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all-consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. It is telling that it is all written from the heart and this part of both John and Nula’s life was not easy. It does however have the most happy of endings or rather shows the happiness of a continuation of their lives. 

Please do look at my full review for this book, if you haven’t done so already because just a few words only really highlights the book’s existence and a little of what it is about.

Link below:

https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/2019/08/07/the-longest-farewell-james-dementia-and-me-by-nula-suchet-nulasuchet-johnsuchet1-serenbooks-david_suchet-vicky_mcclure-the_writereads-dementia-nonfiction-review-newbook

Geronimo Stilton – Stop Acting Around by Geronimo Stilton @PaperCutzGN #Kidslit #GraphicNovels #Review #Newbook #Humour #Adventure Take a look at the latest in the series of this fun novel

Geronimo Stilton –
Reporter #3
Stop Acting Around
By Geronimo Stilton

Rated: ****

About the Author

Born in New Mouse City, Mouse Island, Geronimo Stilton is Rattus Emeritus of Mousomorphic Literature and of Neo-Ratonic Comparative Philosophy. He is the director of The Rodent’s Gazette,New Mouse City’s most widely read daily newspaper. Stilton was awarded the Ratitzer Prize for his scoops on The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid and The Search for Sunken Treasure. One of his bestsellers won the 2002 eBook Award for world’s best-selling electronic book. In 2006 he won a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award and in 2008 he won the Cartoomics prize “Beyond Comics.” His works have been published all over the globe. In his spare time, Mr. Stilton collects antique cheese rinds.

About the Book

Geronimo Stilton is Getting into the movies when he is invited by an old filmmaker friend, director E.J. Sprocket, to visit the set Block Cheddar 4, starring Jack Vole. Convinced that this could make for an interesting article, he brings Thea, Benjamin, and Pandora along. But soon they discover that it’s not all glitz and glamour as strange happenings have been plaguing production, causing the film to go off course. Will Geronimo’s acting career be over before it starts? Is there a MOLE on the set? As E.J. would say, “That’s show business for ya baby!”

Review

Geronimo Stilton stop acting aroundGeronimo Stilton books have been around awhile in libraries and book shops and they are nicely still going strong. They are graphic novels, with the story told in a well layed-out and illustrated form and often depict an eye-catching cover, with a good paced plot. Stop Acting Around takes Geronimo (a mouse) on-set of a big movie to meet his favourite actor – Jack Vole and reckons this would make for a great article. The book starts with some on set action. I thought this worked well to draw young readers in and it starts to set the scene. All is well until disaster strikes when 10 cans of film are mysteriously destroyed. The book has plenty of action and there is mild trepidation when there’s a rickety bridge to get across a ravine and down an old mine as the mystery continues as to what happened to the film reels. Further down the mines, Geronimo and his friends come across something quite unexpected in the darkness. There’s enough to keep children entertained throughout. There is a good,  solid ending.
It is, like other books in this series, all very well designed and the way language is used is great! Children can find lots of fun within the way the characters speak.
All in all, right from the start to the end of the book. there is enough mystery and excitement for children aged 7 plus. Children who are already fans of the series will enjoy it and those who have not yet tried the series yet, it is worth giving it a go and trying something new. The books have a great energy to them and would appeal to boys and girls alike and they can unleash the mysterious adventure within their imaginations and within the pages and perhaps be inspired to be news reporters themselves too.

*This book has a release date for the 3rd September 2019.

* Thanks to publishers PaperCutz for accepting my request from NetGalley and giving me the great opportunity to review this book, which hopefully will inspire more people to try this series or to continue to follow it.

________________________________________

Book: Geronimo Stilton
Author: Geronimo Stilton
ISBN: 9781545803325
Pub Date: 03/09/2019
Publisher: MacMillan imprint 
Papercutz
Pages: 56

A Day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Short Reviews of 3 shows @mattforde @DaveBibby @russellhoward @edfringe #Edinburgh #Scotland

An Evening at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

There is always fun to be had at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, from street performers to full shows performed by comedians, actors, musicians starting out their careers to those who are more established and some household names and some return having starting their careers at what is the largest arts festival in the world. There really is something for everyone. Yes it is busy as the world descends on the Scottish capital over August, but the atmosphere is amazing and everything from pubs to theatres and everything inbetween is a venue. There are plenty of places to eat too in the majority of the streets with various cuisines. This is one of many trips into Edinburgh over the years.

Fringe sign
SIGN SHOWING THE WAY TO SOME OF THE VENUES


I present to you a short reviews on these 3 shows I saw with a Fringe going friend.

Dave Bibby – Crazy Cat LAD-y
Globe Bar
On until 25th August at 4:45pm

Dave loves cats. Sit and enjoy random pics of his cats, which are cute and fun. The show isn’t all about his cats. The pictures are interspersed throughout witty banter throughout the show.
Take a journey with Dave through his favourite 1990’s childhood film of Hook. Please note this is very much an adult show. He takes the audience through Hook with a bit of funny acting and songs set to well known music. There’s a bit of audience participation, but in the main it is the audience as a whole.
The show is also about growing up as a man when the age 30+ hits.
In the main it is hilarious and worth taking a chance on.
He also encourages audiences to send him pics of their cute cats.

Where will you have seen him before? In the main in various adverts on tv but also Netfix, Comedy Central, Channel 4 and others, plus radio.

Tips: It is a small venue and because it is free and non-ticketed, it is worth joining the queue early. The area of the pub he used filled pretty quickly.

Russell Howard – A Working Progress
Assembly Hall – Main Hall
6:30pm

My friend and I saw Russell Howard last year and had lots of fun, so decided, since we knew the content was going to be different, to see him again. We were not disappointed. His show is called Working Progress because he is trying out different jokes and anecdotes to work out what works and what doesn’t so well for his arena tours and tv shows. He also tells some anecdotes that are only for a Fringe audience too.
His anecdotes covered family, school days, social media trends and influences, politics and a safari trip. Some worked better than others of course, but that’s the purpose of the show, but on the main his stories were very funny. He has some serious points to get across but does this well, in a comical way.
So was it worth seeing him a second year running? Yes it absolutely was.

Where you have seen him before? Various stages, Tv panel shows such as Mock the Week, Good News and Live at the Apollo etc.

Tips: It was a sell-out performance when I was there. If he is all sold-out, it is worth looking for returned tickets. You just never know your luck.
The venue is very hot, so take water with you.

Matt Forde – Brexit, Pursued by a Bear
Pleasance Forth 
8:30pm, various dates until 25th August.

Matt Forde gave a show of satire that was polished and full of humour, which was brilliant. He seamlessly balances the fun with the serious messages he was trying to get across. He has satirical fun with all the main parties with aplomb. His impersonations of politicians were great. His comic timing is excellent.
My friend and I decided to see him because we had seen him around a lot in the grounds of the Pleasance and decided we really ought to see one of his shows. We were very pleased we saw his show, we were not disappointed.

Where you have seen him before: Around the Fringe, On Tv shows as Matt Forde Unspun and is on radio.

Tips: Wear good shoes as there’s a number of stairs to this part of the Pleasance. Queues also build fast. He has announced a couple of other show slots on Friday 16th and Friday 23rd August

Scot Monument  SCOTT MONUMENT AT NIGHT

Review of The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me by Nula Suchet @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 @SerenBooks @David_Suchet @Vicky_McClure @The_WriteReads #dementia #nonfiction #review #newbook

The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me
By Nula Suchet
Rated: 5 stars *****

About the Author

Nula Suchet was born and raised in Ireland, part of a large family. She studied Art and Design at Chelsea College of Art and became an interior designer, working internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. Now retired, she lives in London, with her husband, the broadcaster John Suchet.

About the Book

Dementia crept early into the life of James Black, insidious and unannounced. The result was a long farewell to him as he changed from a happy, successful film maker into a completely dependent care home resident, and a stranger to his wife, Nula.

Yet after seven stressful years, Nula’s life unexpectedly changed when she met a man whose wife was also a dementia patient in the home. Her friendship with John Suchet became a relationship, but theirs is a difficult road. There is joy, but also despair and guilt. Is even a moment of happiness allowed when their loved ones are in slow decline towards death? Theirs is a story that plumbs the depths but also reaches a happiness that they thought they would never experience.

The Longest Farewell book pic

Review

Brave, devastatingly emotional, moving, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and yet there’s so much love in the Longest Farewell and ultimately, such a special kind of happiness.

I am pleased and privileged to review The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet. It is with great thanks to her for agreeing to allow me to review her book. I also thank her for arranging with her publisher to send me a hardback copy.

Nula Suchet chronicled her life in the hope that anyone whose life is blighted with dementia can know that the tunnel they feel enclosed by need never be totally closed. The book is 182 pages and every word is evidently written from the heart. There is so much in this book to capture, so please bear with me.

At only fifty-seven years old, Nula’s husband was diagnosed with Picks disease – a rare form of dementia. This is an important book. It really shows that dementia really does not choose age or class or creed. It is a cruel disease at any age, but particularly to someone who was in his prime to then suddenly not be. There’s so much heartbreak when reading this book. Any reader, I am sure would feel it. This book is brave and must have taken a lot of courage to write as memories of a life since past, come to the fore once more in such a way, in order to write this brilliant book. The book begins with there just not being something quite right about James. The worry is there in the writing as is the fact that it perhaps makes more sense to put the new behaviours James is expressing, down to stress.

There is a strong glimpse into what life for James used to be like pre-dementia. I like that we are treated to the type of man he was and what he did. He had a strong place in the world, he created scripts for documentaries and wrote screenplays and worked very hard and over many hours. There seems to be a real sense of vibrancy and intelligence about James, even when there’s a bit about him meeting with a producer and normally he talks a lot about various ideas, when instead, there is a silence, that would by now, seem, to any reader as being unusual for James. There was an energy and enthusiasm in his work that was all of a sudden whisked away, leaving the love of his life wondering what to do. Nula writes unambiguously, throughout, including the emotions, the striking behaviours in James and Nula’s understandable initial denial that it could be anything other than stress or lots of time writing alone. There is a deep sense that every single sentence written is incredibly heart-felt and I believe other readers will feel this in their hearts too as I do in mine. There’s the feeling of anger too about what the Picks disease is doing to James. Everyone reacts differently and until dementia happens, you cannot fully really know how you will react, let’s just say, it is a familiar reaction. In amongst all of the different emotions and the having to deal with it, I like that Nula Suchet shows an air of determination to still to try to live life to the fullest with James, doing the things they used to enjoy together. There is however, such a bitter-sweetness. Nula Suchet writes about some wonderful memories, that seem so happy and full of love. There is such a determination to care for James. How hard this is isn’t sugar-coated as bit by bit it is there for all readers to see, but ultimately dementia is sadly taking over and behaviours, caused by Picks. Even before the chapter called Isolation, there’s a sense of it creeping stealthily and unwelcomingly in and life as they once knew it coming to a halt. Nula also has to give up working on her interior design business too. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. I know this is a book that I will read more than once. I realised that before I even reached the end.

When Nula Suchet says about their being a comfort that she finally found a “good home” that did activities with their residents, even I feel gladness of that, because very unfortunately that isn’t always the case, as is pointed out in the book. Not that this makes anything any easier, not really, as travelling to the care home also is another emotional challenge of sadness as that feeling of guilt takes hold and lingers. The phrases used could not be put any better to describe that situation of struggle, anguish and the sheer depths of despair she goes to. Not one bit of it could be easy to have re-lived at all.

It is so interesting and thoughtful that other residents are remembered from Nula’s visits to see James and what I think readers, who perhaps don’t need to make visits to a care home will find is how different the residents all behave that she describes, as well as the feelings and vocal demands of James too.

The book then naturally merges into John Suchet’s life too as he and Nula meet and it is touching as she also gets to know Bonnie in the care home.
John Suchet is a broadcaster, currently on  the radio channel Classic FM.
It reads a little bit differently from what went prior. There are correspondences between Nula and John, which contain warmth, care and attention.

There are similarities in emotions felt and the emotionally charged writing, for he too is losing Bonnie – the love of his life all too early with the cruelty of dementia.  There are some parallels between their lives as a strong connection starts to build between them, such as John and Bonnie also travelled together whilst he worked – researching for his books. The connection builds into friendship and more and this is beautiful to read about as there is a clear hope and glimmer of happiness and being able to re-discover all the things they both enjoy and together. There are however a few times of understandable tentativeness at first and a challenging holiday in Greece together, which is written so well and with also recalling her own upbringing, which was so different from John’s. Hers, one of more turmoil and heartbreak, compared to John’s seemingly more perfect life. There is some comfort to be found in her insecurities as she asks calls “girly questions” due to insecurities. It is something many females will relate to, I am sure, but also the self-protection both males and females I am sure will relate to some degree. There are other trips where there are memories of James and the sadness that comes with it. There’s also more feelings of guilt and the pain of not being able to have a  coherent discussion with James about what she had been doing.

The further deterioration in both Bonnie and James and the medical issues and palliative care is not shied away from. It is told how it was for them. Poignantly there is a shared “list of nevers”, which is things they will never be able to do again.  It is by this time at its starkest yet as is the fact that dementia never leaves those who actually have it, but also others, like John and Nula, no matter what else is done in life.

Nula goes into some detail about the further deterioration of James and how it affects her relationship with John, who is also seeing this in Bonnie and is trying to cope with his own emotions, has to be given credit for being so incredibly patient and for showing such care and realising they need each other, even when emotion is trying to get the better of Nula and is trying to pull the relationship apart and almost forever, even after the funerals of James and Bonnie, which is chronicled with such respect. I found myself thinking thank goodness that Nula’s computer needed fixed and they were going to an expert together and she still agreed. Through all the devastation Nula and John lived through together, there is so much love and the ending is one that nearly was not, but my goodness I am glad it is just the best ending or perhaps best ever continuation of their lives may be more appropriate, for two people who have lived through so much and now bravely shared so much to the world.

There’s so much pain and guilt that is so understandable and deserves compassion. What is perhaps not actually said, is still there in-between the lines because this is actually an incredibly well-written book and written from the heart.

There are two sections of wonderful, meaningful photos that are excellently placed within the book. The first section, depicting happier times of James and Nula and they are so full of joy and life and yet there is a sadness because these are memories now of his work and of other life’s adventures they did together.  There’s also some other family photos too that are interesting to see. The second set shows James and Bonnie years into dementia and what it was doing to them, and yet they are so poignantly remembered through these photos. They are so tastefully done and with sensitivity. There are also photos of happier times again of Nula and John together, which are so heartwarming and they really do look so happy together. Each photo has its place. They seem so carefully chosen and go with the text before and after them. Every single expression looks so genuine.

I do also recommend reading the very important postscript. It highlights further the need for greater awareness and compassion for those with dementia. It isn’t just those who actually have this devastating disease that has still no cure to, it is everyone around that person. It highlights that care needs to be better and more research and more expertise needs to be put into it and that care, although can be good in some places of the UK, it isn’t always good around the UK. There’s acknowledgement of the greatest campaign’s so far, such as Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure’s Dementia Choir, hosted in Nottingham and Formula One champion Jackie Stewart launching a fund for research.

I have never read a book quite like The Longest Farewell before. The Longest Farewell is an important and timeless book in raising awareness of what Dementia can do and how it affects everyone’s lives and not just the person who is suffering from it. It also raises awareness of the inequalities in the care for dementia patients. There also is a need for more compassion towards people with dementia and their affected families around them.
For some, perhaps the book may also provide comfort and hope for those who are carers or are visiting their loved ones in a care-home that they aren’t alone.

It is also kind that Nula mentions that John also has a book called My Bonnie, documenting his dispair and loneliness about losing Bonnie to dementia. He also writes books about different classical composers in his fascinating Man Revealed series.

James Longest Farewell

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Title: The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me
Author: Nula Suchet
Publisher: Seren
ISBN: 9781781725184