With honesty and true understanding, Sally Hepworth pens this poignant story of one of today's nightmares: early-onset Alzheimer's.
Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.
Fifteen months ago
No one trusts anything I say. If I point out, for example, that the toast is burning or that it's time for the six o'clock news, people marvel. How about that? It is time for the six o'clock news. Well done, Anna. Maybe if I were eighty-eight instead of thirty-eight, I wouldn't care. Then again, maybe I would. As a new resident of Rosalind House, an assisted-living facility for senior citizens, I'm having a new appreciation for the hardships of the elderly.
"Anna, this is Bert," someone says as a man slopes by on his walker. I've been introduced to half a dozen people who look more or less like Bert: old, ashen, hunched-over. We're on wicker lawn chairs in the streaming sunshine, and I know Jack brought me out here to make us both feel better. Yes, you're checking into an old folks' home, but look, it has a garden!
I wave to Bert, but my gaze is fixed across the lawn, where my five-year-old nephew, Ethan, is ...
Some of the recent comments posted about The Things We Keep. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Did you find any incidents in this book unbelievable or confusing?
I wonder if Eve decided that she would throw caution to the wind. She had lived her life by the rules and it availed her nothing. Her husband was a criminal and a suicide, she had no friends, her daughter was bullied. Being "good" did not serve her ... - Frances
Did you learn anything you didn't previously know about dementia while reading this novel?
I also didn't know that dementia could start at such a young age, the type of dementia that Luke had, and that some people with dementia had a problem with depth perception. My dad had dementia but he was in his early 70's and didn't have the depth ... - louisee
Eve is unsettled when Rosie lies to Anna. Rosie replies, "We can make each moment frightening for her with the truth. Or we can lie...and make each moment happy..." What would you do? What would you want someone to do if you were Anna?
I understand how Eve could be upset about lying to Anna, but Rosie makes a good point. So much of an Alzheimer's sufferer's days are fraught with confusion and despair - why not give them comforting words when you can, since they won't remember them ... - susank
How do the multiple points of view enhance your experience as a reader? How would the novel have been different if some parts had been omitted or told from a different point of view?
I am finding that I often enjoy books with multiple points of views. It seems to allow me to get deeper into the landscape and emotions of the novel. In this book, I only wish that the author had allowed us into Luke's mindset a little, but, perhaps ... - susank
Is Anna's character believable? Did you feel sympathetic toward her?
It's nice when a book makes us feel better or confirms our experience. When a novel expands our experience and takes us into new places and new understanding, that is of deep value. Reading novels is said to be of great value in connecting us with ... - Frances
It's been a while since I've read something that I don't want to end. Great story about love, grief, and what we are willing to risk for others (Michele N.) Hepworth writes with compassion and understanding of the impact of this cruel disease on all who know and love the patients (Helen S.)
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (817 words).
"Dementia in its varied forms is not like cancer, [which is] an invader. But Alzheimer's is me, unwinding, losing trust in myself, a butt of my own jokes and on bad days capable of playing hunt the slipper by myself and losing. You can't battle it, you can't be a plucky "survivor". It steals you from yourself."
This is author Terry Prachett, in a 2008 article for the Alzheimer's Society (reprinted by The Guardian in 2015). Pratchett wrote this shortly after he was diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy or PCA (which depending on which specialist you talk to is either a form of Alzheimer's or closely related to it). It causes a deterioration of memory, plus a loss of visual acuity, but allows for retention of fluency and...
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