The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

  • the-things-we-keep-pbTitle:  The Things We Keep
  • Author:  Sally Hepworth
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published: January 2017 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Anna Forster is only thirty-eight years old, but her mind is slowly slipping away from her. Armed only with her keen wit and sharp-eyed determination, she knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. But Anna has a secret: she does not plan on staying. She also knows there’s just one another resident who is her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

Eve Bennett, suddenly thrust into the role of single mother to her bright and vivacious seven-year-old daughter, 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. Eve has her own secrets, and her own desperate circumstances that raise the stakes even higher.  (publisher)

My take:  The Things We Keep is an emotional tale about people whose memories have vanished or been taken by events beyond their control. My father-in-law died from complications of Alzheimer’s several years ago so I have a basic understanding of this horrible disease. Sally Hepworth offers another facet of the disease with characters who are in their thirties and battling the loss of memory.

Anna and Luke are two people who’ve been diagnosed with different early forms of dementia. They meet at a residential care facility that is also for elderly who can’t live independently. The story is also about Eve, a recent widow and mother of a seven-year-old daughter, Clementine. Her life turned on a dime when her husband killed himself. She is the new cook at the home. There are several supporting characters – employees of Rosalind House and a few of the residents – whose presence added richness to the story.

The story is beautifully told and one I can recommend to readers – even though the topic of Alzheimer’s can be so off-putting and upsetting. It’s a compassionate novel that made me smile at times and grab for a tissue at other times. I know I’ll be thinking about The Things We Keep for a long time and I look forward to reading more from Hepworth.


Praise for THE THINGS WE KEEP – now available in paperback

“‘For better or for worse’ takes on new meaning in Hepworth’s devastatingly beautiful love story.” – People

“This book is such a page-turner! At the end, we were left full of hope and love.” – Women’s Day

“…an unconventional tearjerker of a love story… poignant and nuanced.” – Publishers Weekly

“With startling insight and intense compassion, Hepworth creates a character who watches her intellectual world implode while at the same time experiencing a new romance. The story is a rare gem.” – Columbus Dispatch


About the author:

Sally Hepworth lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and three children. She is currently working on her next novel.


 

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

  • the-echo-of-twilightTitle:  The Echo of Twilight
  • Author:  Judith Kinghorn
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  January 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.
 
As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.
 
In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 
 
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever…  (publisher)

My take:  The Echo of Twilight is the story of two women whose lives are forever changed by circumstances beyond their control – most notably World War I. Pearl, a young woman, accepts the position of Ottoline’s lady’s maid. Raised by her spinster great-aunt, Pearl never knew her parents. When her great-aunt died she had no family left and went into service. When she was hired by Lady Ottoline she found a family of sorts – with a few of the staff and the Campbell family.

The Campbells are an interesting family. The two sons are nineteen and twenty-one and ready to fight for their King and Country. When war is declared they leave the family home and go off to fight. Uncertainty and heartache will loom for those left at home in the years to follow. Ottoline, the boys’ mother, proved to be a complex woman whose character was revealed in layers throughout the novel.

The novel is divided into three parts: Before, during, and after the war. Kinghorn’s story was so addicting that I had a hard time setting it down. I’m a fan of historical fiction, especially set in the early 20th century. The Echo of Twilight is an emotional novel that I recommend to fans of the author and the genre. It was the perfect choice for my First Book of the year.


About the author:

Judith Kinghorn is the author of four novels: The Echo of Twilight, The Snow Globe, The Memory of Lost Senses, and The Last Summer. She was born in Northumberland, educated in the Lake District, and is a graduate in English and History of Art. She lives in Hampshire, England, with her husband and two children.


 

Traveling Light by Lynne Branard

  • traveling-lightTitle:  Traveling Light
  • Author:  Lynne Branard
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  January 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man’s ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn’t exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it’s exactly what she needs…
 
It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart’s remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life. 
 
She isn’t wrong. 
 
Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa’s eyes to the road in front of her—and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming…  (provided by the publisher)

My take:  After coming into possession of the remains of an unknown (to her) man, thirty-five year old Alissa feels duty-bound to return them to his last known address which is across the country from where she lives. She’ll finally use some of her numerous vacation days for the trip and take her dog with her.

Along the way she meets some interesting people: Blossom, a seventeen year old waitress from Tennessee who just happens to want a ride to Texas and Blossom’s former boyfriend who shows up a few days later. It turns into quite a unique road trip with the three making stops at tourist spots, some famous and some not so much.

Al (as she’s known to almost everyone) realizes the two teens are pretty great traveling companions. They’ll all discover things on this journey about themselves and life. I enjoyed this engaging novel about finding your place in the world.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

one-last-summer-at-hideaway-bay   a-ladys-code-of-misconduct   starlight-bridge

the-garden-of-small-beginnings   fractured-kindleaudible   what-happens-under-the-mistletoe

Last week on Bookfan:

a-perilous-undertaking   the-echo-of-twilight

Reading plan for this week:

the-things-we-keep-pb