Every year I make sure I receive some books for Christmas, and if I don't get any, I buy them for myself in the Twixmas time.
This year I received three - I gave the boys a list so I knew I would get want I wanted, and so far I have already read two of them.
The first book was Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
I heard about this on the Richard and Judy book club and put it straight on my To Be Read list.
The story is told from the point of view of Maud, who is an elderly lady suffering from memory loss. Throughout the book we see what's its like to be unable to remember where you put things, what you are doing half way through doing it, and sometimes even recognising family. A consistent thread in the book is that Maud is troubled that her friend Elizabeth is missing, despite the fact that everyone around her tells her she is not. Whilst Maud is trying to find her friend, the narrative dips back into Maud's past when her own sister disappeared as a young wife.
The two mysteries, interspersed with Maud's problems, are cleverly told and leads to a satisfying and surprising ending. I wouldn't say this was an easy read, as inside Maud's mind was often a terrifying place to be, especially when you relate it to your own parents or indeed the prospect of your own future. It also gives a great insight into the frustrations experienced by the carers of those suffering from dementia.
Like I say, not an easy read, but a worthwhile one.
The second book I read over the Christmas period was The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews.
As ever, Carole provides a delightful read with characters you instantly fall in love with.
The main character is Fay who has given up her job to look after her mother who a while ago took to her bed and now refuses to get out of it. Although there was nothing much wrong with her mother when she first "became ill", years of being in bed have taken their toll on her health and she depends on Fay to provide her with her every need.
The house they live in is by a canal and Fay's dad, who died, loved his narrow boat. Fay would like to be able to restore it to its former glory but having given up her job to look after her mother, she can't afford to. Instead she sells cakes from her garden to make ends meet. In addition, she supports her sister who lives in New York and is involved in a disastrous relationship with a married man, and quite often ends up giving her money that she can barely afford.
As ever in Carole's books there is a love interest in the form of Danny. Of course the path to true love never runs smooth and this is particularly so for Fay and Danny. There are many believable twists and turns through the course of the book and certain heartbreak for Fay. But will Fay and Danny ever get together? You'll have to read it to find out.
Another beautiful read from Carole with the bonus feature of lots of cake!
What good books have you read recently?