This is a very moving story about a Shakespeare scholar who has recently moved to a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s. Your heart will break as you witness his struggle to deal with the failure of language, memory and thought process. This is a man who memorized whole Shakespeare plays and now doesn’t know where he is or what day it is. At times, he leaves the strange and unfamiliar world of the nursing home behind as he travels in his mind to events of his past and loses himself in the stories written by Shakespeare. Other times, he’ll catch a glimpse of the past but will then lose the thread of thought and memory.
The novel also explores his estranged relationship with his daughter, Miranda. A misunderstanding of many years ago still stands between them and the question throughout the book is whether there’s still time for them to make things right again. The book really brought home the truth of how finite our time on earth is.
I loved the way the author included parts of Shakespeare throughout the story. John is so entrenched in his life-long study of Shakespeare that he speaks as though he were in a Shakespeare play and he compares all that has happened to him in his life to those stories of long ago. The story shows the importance of literature in our lives and how it anchors us more firmly to the world around us.
It’s a slow moving book, yet I couldn’t tear myself away from it and was glued to its pages. The author is a master at bringing her characters to life and so realistically portraying their thoughts. It’s a heart wrenching book and it touched me deeply. This is the first book I’ve read by Jean Hegland but it certainly won’t be the last.
This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.