I am starting off my reviews with a book that has stayed fresh in my mind even though I read it at the end of last year. Though not in my first, go-to genre, I Ioved the way this story, set in a drab nursing home and dealing with a principal character suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, was actually about friendship and humour and a good mystery thrown in!
I wouldn’t very often put it this way but… what a joy this book is.
From the start I loved the writing style, easy and flowing and real. Basically it’s a mystery. Flo, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, is a resident at the Happy Hearts old people’s home and the name couldn’t be any further from the reality of life in this awful establishment. Brittany has just started work at Happy Hearts; she may be young and highly embarrassed at her first meeting with Flo but she’s not the shrinking violet she at first appears to be – Brittany has ambition and guts and Flo is the very person, the very reason, to finally bring her true character to the surface. With the help of her mum and friends she begins to investigate the goings-on at Happy Hearts and, as she does so, her regard and fondness for Flo grows.
There is also so much more to Flo than first meets the eye. She has led a very interesting and productive life but, we learn, she still has more to do. What I particularly liked about this story is the way Flo’s illness is represented. She seems to have moments of confusion and moments of clarity but the feisty Flo of former years is definitely still there, so much so that there were times when I questioned the real extent of her condition. Having close experience of mental illness I know that this is the true dilemma of family, friends and carers, the terrible uncertainty and the constant evaluations, never quite knowing if you have a true handle on the situation.
Having said that, there is a symbiosis between the two women, young and old. Flo is never the defensless old lady waiting for rescue; she is as determined to help her young protégé as Brittany is help her.
The relationship between Flo and Brittany is at the heart of the story and the author manages this with a humour and warmth that never detracts from the overall plot.
Very, very enjoyable!
Oh – and I loved the cover.