Cover Image: The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I requested this book because I loved the cover so much...the story sounded like it could be a good one that might make me feel something...and boy was I right. I LOVED this book so much... You have Arthur as one of the main characters...he lives with one of his granddaughters so he won't have to go to a home since his memory is mostly gone...suddenly she decides she is done with him and his OTHER granddaughter comes to stay with him, along with her daughter. This is the good granddaughter and he gets along so well with her daughter...she loves to look through his old photo albums and sometimes he can get a memory or two to come back by doing that. Esther becomes so interested in his old life that she uses her vlog to try to get people in the World to help find his old love...all he wants is some kind of closure and she wants to be able to give it to him. Suddenly Maddie's phone is blowing up with reporters and people trying to get in on the action and that includes an ex boyfriend Esther had written to...From this point, we have great happening right now and Maddie and Joe try to find Maryse and one that happened during the war between Maryse and Arthur...I stayed connected to this book from the very beginning to the very end...Like I said, I loved this one :)
Was this review helpful?
An engrossing and poignant family saga that kept me hooked.
Great characters, an emotionally charged plot and a well researched historical part.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Was this review helpful?
This book came after some disappointing reads. When I started this one I figured I was going to be let down again by my recent book choices.  But by the time Arthur and Esther see each other my heart was hopeful. Arthur's body is failing but his mind is already gone and his family takes turns caring for him but it is little Esther and Maddy that turn his life upside down and take us back seventy years to when he was in his prime and being an old man relying on others was never a thought he had. 
Author Fortin does an amazing job at making sure every character has some depth even those who only waltz through a few pages at the most. And you will love Arthur, feel for him, want to take care of him, but you won't have pity for him, he has lived his life and now that life is coming back in full-color glory.
Read knowing it isn't a commonplace WWII romance, it's a little different, a little more precious, a fantastic 5 star read.
Was this review helpful?
From the outset I loved the character of Arthur Pettinger. He struggles to remember which slipper goes on which foot, he forgets names, he gets muddled and yet some things are remembered so clearly. The author does a really nice job of portraying with sensitivity this elderly gentlemans confused mind.

Grandaughter Hazel is at the end of her tether and needs to get away for a while so half sister Maddy and her daughter Esther come to stay. 

Great grandaughter Esther is intrigued by Arthurs old scrapbook and in particular a photo of a woman called Maryse. Who was Maryse and what was her connection with Arthur? Esther wants to find out and it is through her the family begin to unravel Arthurs wartime past.

I found this an engaging read from the opening chapters, the author perfectly portrayed how dementia affects not just those suffering and also those who caring for the sufferer. This isn't a sad book, its an inspiring one,  the dual timeline worked well taking the reader into a past that Arthurs family had no idea about. Totally recommended. 

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy, I was under no obligation and all opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A lovely timeslip book that really tugs at the heartstrings. A great debut and I hope there is more to come
Was this review helpful?
Suzanne Fortin will tug at the heartstrings with her haunting, poignant and atmospheric historical novel, The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger.

Arthur Pettinger’s memory isn’t what it once was. Things that he used to take for granted no longer come easy to him. He struggles to remember the names of his beloved grandchildren and he gets confused about which way round his slippers go or where he lives. Arthur’s short-term memory might be getting progressively worse, but the one thing that is as clear as day in his mind is Maryse. He remembers every single detail about this mysterious woman he might not have seen for decades, but who still lives on in his mind and heart. Not even old age can diminish the love he has for Maryse leaving his relatives to wonder just who was this woman? Is she still alive? And more to the point can they reunite her with Arthur before it’s too late?

Arthur’s granddaughter Maddy has not had the easiest of times lately, but moving in with her daughter Esther is the first positive step towards rebuilding her life and putting it back together. When they hear about Maryse, the two of them decide to do something about it, but they never imagined that the video they made for the mysterious woman would end up going viral and capture the attention of the world. Everyone wants to help Arthur find his missing Maryse, however, the one person who can truly help them in their quest is a face from Maddy’s past: Joe, the one who got away.

Fate has brought the two of them together again in the most unlikely of circumstances and as their mission to track down Arthur’s enigmatic Maryse takes them all the way to France and the French Resistance, will Maddy not only manage to find the missing pieces of this puzzle, but also mend her own broken heart and restore her shattered spirit?

Suzanne Fortin’s The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger is a superbly written tale that is so beautifully told that it will transport the reader to a world of danger, courage, hope and despair that will keep them completely and utterly transfixed from beginning to end. Suzanne Fortin writes with great warmth and compassion and plumbs the depths of the human heart with flair and sensitivity leaving readers reaching for their tissues on plenty of occasions.

An engrossing tale that is impossible to forget, The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger is a compulsively readable novel I thoroughly enjoyed.
Was this review helpful?
This is such a glorious multi-generational tale. You end up caring about the current generation as much as those in the earlier part of the story, all connected to Arthur. It made me sob, but I recommend this story wholeheartedly. Everyone needs to meet Arthur Pettinger.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley, Aria & Aries, and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.

I really enjoyed this book, and from my own (albeit limited) experiences interacting with people with dementia, I think that very large plot point was handled with sensitivity and grace. I genuinely enjoyed the characters and absolutely loved the relationship between Arthur and his great granddaughter Esther - it was the highlight of the novel for me.

The past story line was interesting and carried the novel well, but in a weirdly perfect way, it was also kind of underwhelming. I know it sounds like that wouldn't be a good thing, but it really was. It's probably one of the most realistic ways that the story could have gone and I appreciated the book all the more for that.

I definitely recommend this book to fans of WWII Historical Fiction! I loved the writing and was totally engaged throughout the entire novel - I finished it in less than 24 hours!
Was this review helpful?
This is a story that grabs you from the outset and keeps you entranced throughout. Told in a dual timeline between the present day and the events of World War II, we learn of the life of Arthur Pettinger, now in his late 90s and suffering from Alzheimer’s and struggling to piece together memories both in the present day and from the past.

When granddaughter Maddy and great-granddaughter Esther move in to help with his care, the bonds they develop help Arthur to begin to recall memories that have long-since been locked away.

The beauty of this story is undoubtedly the theme of relationships which runs throughout, but mostly in the genuine, touching bond between grandfather and great-granddaughter. Esther seems to instinctively know how to interact with Arthur and, through sharing his scrapbook, sets off a chain of events which delve into the past not just for Arthur, but for granddaughter Maddy too.

The difficult subject matter of dementia is incredibly sensitively handled and the writing style makes you continually want to keep reading ‘just one more chapter’ to find out what happens next.

A wonderful book that is highly recommended!
Was this review helpful?
The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger by Suzanne Fortin
Publication Date: March 4, 2021
Description from NetGalley..
Sometimes the past won't stay hidden, it demands to be uncovered...
Arthur Pettinger's memory isn't what it used to be. He can't always remember the names of his grandchildren, where he lives or which way round his slippers go. He does remember Maryse though, a woman he hasn't seen for decades, but whose face he will never forget.

When Arthur's granddaughter, Maddy moves in along with her daughter Esther, it's her first step towards pulling her life back together. But when Esther makes a video with Arthur, the hunt for the mysterious Maryse goes viral.

There's only one person who can help Maddy track down this woman – the one that got away, Joe. Their quest takes them to France, and into the heart of the French Resistance.

When the only way to move forwards is to look back, will this family finally be able to?
Thank you to @headofzeus @sue_fortin for inviting me to their book tour. 
Thank you to @NetGalley @ariabooks for the digital ARC in return for my honest review.
My thoughts...
Great read. In this story you read more details on what it was like to be Arthur, an English soldier hiding in France. Fortin gave a detailed account of being in a SOE mission: expecting and facing danger everyday. It truly was survival. There was a story of blossoming love for Arthur amidst the dangers of war. This was also a story of family and loyalty between Arthur, Mandy and Esther. Esther’s character was just adorable. Fortin also did a great job describing what was required in finding people. There were many who looked for lost loves from the war. But, what I truly appreciated was how Fortin sensitively described Arthur’s dementia: how it affected him and his family. It was so heartwarming to read about the secondary characters who were there for Arthur, as we should be for our elders. 
Was this review helpful?
Arthur Pettinger is a man who has lived a long and eventful life, but at the age of ninety-six dementia now clouds his mind and he has forgotten rather a lot of it. However, some things are very clear to Arthur especially his memories of serving in France during WWII and the woman he met during his time there - his first love, Maryse.

When Arthur's granddaughter Maddy comes to look after him with her daughter Esther, his penchant for sharing glimpses of his scrapbook and tales of the old days sets off a chain of events that finds them joining forces with Maddy's ex Joe to try to find out what happened to Maryse - and it's a trail that leads them all the way back to Arthur's wartime exploits working with the French Resistance behind enemy lines. This is a quest that will not only help Arthur come to terms with his past, but will also help his nearest and dearest decide the course of their future.

The story plays out in a dual timeline following the search for Maryse in the present, and the history of Arthur's wartime experiences, moving back and forth in time until all the little pieces fall into place to reveal the truth. This serves nicely to combine elements of wartime thriller with historical love story, rich in period detail that holds nothing back about the horrors of occupied France, and a delightful modern mystery story that encompasses a gorgeous contemporary romance to boot. Suzanne Fortin handles the myriad threads in both timelines with skill, bringing in shades of meaning that work beautifully in both the past and the present, and ties everything up in one of the most moving endings I have read in a very long time - whilst keeping Arthur central to the whole story in a way that sensitively portrays him as a real person, despite the ravages of his dementia.

Reading this was an incredibly emotional experience and lots of tears were shed along the way - both of joy and sadness. Love shines out of these pages, whether it be romantic or otherwise, and the way Fortin explores the capacity to love through both of the timelines in this book is enchanting.  I adored every little thing about this tale of friendship, family ties and devotion: the characters and the beautifully drawn relationships between them, the backdrops, the nostalgia, the compelling storylines... I could go on and on, but instead I will just say that this is one of my absolute favourite reads of 2021.
Was this review helpful?
I have been a fan of Suzanne’s work for a while now.  I haven’t caught up with everything that she has written but I am getting there.  I read the synopsis for ‘The Forgotten Life Of Arthur Pettinger’ and it certainly appealed to me.  Without further ado I grabbed a cup of tea, grabbed my Kindle down and settled down for what I hoped would be an amazing read.  I was spot on too because ‘The Forgotten Life Of Arthur Pettinger’ really is a fantastic read and I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it but more about that in a bit.
I have to say that I liked the character of Arthur Pettinger from the start and he brought back so many memories.  I don’t mean that my family were in the ‘Special Operations Executive’ because as far as I know they weren’t but one of my great aunts suffered with dementia and so much of how Arthur behaves in the present day was reminiscent of my great aunt.  Arthur (& my great aunt) have definite short term memory loss but their memories of times gone by could be quite detailed when they had a lucid moment.  I really felt for Arthur and I kept wanting to jump inside the pages of the book to give him a hug.  Arthur is a fascinating character, who has led a fascinating life and now finds himself living with his granddaughter and great granddaughter.  I loved the way in which his great granddaughter interacted with Arthur.  She and her mother are so kind, caring and compassionate.
It took me no time at all to get into this book.  I am a huge history nerd as well as being a book geek and I have a specific interest in the Second World War so you can probably understand why this book appealed to me so much.  I think a lot of that has got to do with the fact that I didn’t know my grandparents as they all died before I was born and I couldn’t talk to them about the war, so reading books such as this one give me a better appreciation of the circumstances in which they found themselves.  One I got into the story, there was absolutely no chance whatsoever that I would be putting this book down any time soon.  In fact I didn’t put the book down at all.  I was blown away by the story and by the characters.  I found ‘The Forgotten Life Of Arthur Pettinger’ to be a gripping and emotional read that kept my attention from start to finish and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
‘The Forgotten Life Of Arthur Pettinger’ is superbly written.  Suzanne has certainly tackled some difficult subjects but she writes about them in a compassionate and sensitive manner.  Suzanne has one of those writing styles that is easy to get used to and easy to get along with.  I love the way in which she drew me into the story from the start.  The book is written in a dual timeline.  We have the timeline of events as they happen in the present day and we see how dementia affects Arthur now and the other timeline is an illustration of Arthur’s exploits during the Second World War.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Forgotten Life Of Arthur Pettinger’ and I would recommend it to other readers.  I will certainly be reading more of Suzanne’s work in the future.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board can only be 5* out of 5*.
Was this review helpful?
Early dementia is taking the memories of Arthur Pettinger. Maddy, his granddaughter is at a crossroads in her life and needs a stability fir her daughter Esther. Esther and Arthur seem to have this connection without words.  Esther is able to figure out little clues of her great-grandfathers past and begs her mcthers old boyfriend, Joe to help locate someone  from his past that he needs to find. 

Joe & Maddy have unresolved questions and emotions about their relationship which could affect this situation.

The author does such a remarkable job in keeping my interest going with the intrigue and the development of the characters emotional growth. 

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read.

I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.
Was this review helpful?
The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger is one of those books that offers something for just about every reader:  there are elements of domestic drama, such as the family tensions caused by caring responsibilities; scenes of wartime adventure and romance; and a search for a long lost love.

I loved the touching and very natural relationship that develops between Maddy’s daughter, Esther, and her great-grandfather, even if Arthur does occasionally struggle to recall Esther’s name (although he never seems to forget that his favourite biscuits are digestives).  It’s a neat echo of the close relationship Maddy remembers having with Arthur herself when she was younger.  As it turns out, affection for Arthur is not the only thing Esther has inherited.  She also has the same inquisitive nature and independent instincts as her mother.

The book eloquently conveys the challenges of caring for someone with dementia, although Maddy’s sympathetic response and greater understanding of Arthur’s need for routine proves much more successful than that of her half-sister, Hazel, who previously cared for him.  (Arthur privately christened Hazel ‘Moaning Minnie’). Although Maddy recognises the role photographs and music can play in provoking what memories are left, she knows it’s only a matter of time before Alzheimer’s claims Arthur completely. I’m sure many readers can empathize with Maddy when she thinks, “It was so cruel, so painful this long goodbye, watching her grandfather slowly disappear in front of her…”.

The author finds imaginative ways to allow the reader inside the mind of Arthur and witness his own frustration at his declining memory. “It was all muddled up in his mind like a heap of spaghetti and he didn’t know where the strands of thought started.  They were a jumbled mess of words and images, fragments of memory and snatches of thought – all knotted up together.”

The details of Maddy’s search for Maryse, assisted by investigator and ex-boyfriend, Joe, and the difficult moral dilemmas thrown up along the way, will be familiar to fans of TV programmes such as Heir Hunters or Long Lost Family. Trust me, as the book nears its conclusion, you’ll find yourself in complete agreement with Arthur as he thinks, “He wished he knew how his story ended and what happened to those he loved”.

For me, the ending, although bittersweet, was the perfect conclusion to the story. After all, there’s more than one way to be reunited.
Was this review helpful?
This was an ok read. I never really connected with the characters but it’s still a sweet story of love, family and second chances.  Sensitive topics were handled well.
Was this review helpful?
This novel is a poignant tale of lost love and forgotten moments, which will touch your heart. It is a dual timeline book set in 1940s France and the present day. and told from the perspective of Arthur in the 1940s after he is parachuted into occupied France to assist the resistance, Arthur in the present, struggling to put his fragmented memory in place due to his dementia, and Maddy, Arthur’s granddaughter who moves in with him together with her young daughter Esther to help him remain in his home and to provide some stability for him.

I completely fell for Arthur and Maryse in the events that took place in the 1940s. The scene was set so perfectly that I felt completely immersed in the tense position that they were living in.

I found the scenes with Maddy and Arthur in the present very accurate and moving, having personally experienced close relatives with dementia. I loved the patience that both Maddy and Esther had with their ‘Gramps’ but empathised completely with the struggles they had too.

The mystery surrounding the relationship that Arthur had with Maryse was a gently flowing theme throughout the story and I enjoyed the way in which the mystery was unravelled to reach a conclusion that was both joyful and poignant.

This was such a special book in which love is shown in many forms, from the love for parents and grandparents to the love that can be experienced out of the need to be responsible for the protection of others, to the love between couples however smooth or complicated that may be. The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger is a beautiful story that I will not forget.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

WOW. WOW! WOW!! This book totally took control of my heart from the first chapter. Arthur is in his nineties, and is a WW2 veteran. His current caregiver, who is also his granddaughter,  cannot handle taking care of him due to the frustrations of his dementia. Soon, Maddie, Arthur's other granddaughter, and Esther, his great granddaughter arrive to start taking over the role of his care. The relationship between Esther and Arthur just took me back to my grandfather and myself. Arthur can remember a girl named Maryse, when snippets of the past seem to sneak their way back in through the dementia. What unfolds is a beautiful love story. This book is on the top of my all time favorite reads. The Nightingale is one that is at the top, but I believe that this may even top that. This book just shows how precious our elderly war veterans are, and just the elderly in general. They have something to give us if we only take the time to receive it. 5++++++ stars! I want more books by this author! I just loved it SO VERY much!!
Was this review helpful?
A really special book that absolutely captivated me. 

This is historical romance at its best. It perfectly captures the terrors of the war and doesn't brush over these, whilst also celebrating the small joys that love can bring. Arthur and Maryse are so lovely together, but it is tinged in sorrow as you know that they don't see out their days together. They are going to be torn apart, and you're unsure if they ever re-unite, and this had me crying throughout the book waiting to find out what happened. 

Suzanne writes in such a beautiful and poignant way about dementia, about the slipping away of memories and the lost spaces that are created by the disease; it was incredibly sad and moving to read. There is also genuine interest and passion for history and uncovering facts, shown through Joe that made this a really interesting and gripping read. 

Full review to appear on my blog soon.
Was this review helpful?
Arthur Pettinger has Alzheimer's. His memory is not what it used to be much of the time and he requires care. 

Maddie, his daughter, is summoned by her sister to care for him. As a person who receives care myself, I was very taken aback and quite sad at the blunt email between the sisters concerning Arthur. But I am also a firm believer that only certain types of people can be good family caregivers. This side of the story was realistic though. 

Maddie is the best empath of the two sisters, and she has her eleven year old daughter Esther in tow when she goes to Arthur's house. 

Esther is worried about her transition to secondary school and is helped by the fact that Maddie leaves the dog with her. 

Esther and Arthur get talking and Esther has a LOT of things she wants to know about Arthur an his life. 

Author Suzanne Fortin seamlessly blends the "then" and "now" plots of Arthur's present and his past. I found both plots fascinating and learnt a lot about Alzheimer's along the way. 

I was really glad that Arthur had Freddie during his war years. 

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger is a novel of friendship, loss regret happiness sadness and is just so beautiful and raw at the same time. 

Arthur is the kind of grandfather who is proud of his past and is vulnerable yet loveable. 

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger will pull at the heartstrings of anyone who ever loved visiting their grandfather. Although my grandfather did not have Alzheimer's, this novel made me relive life with him. 

The novel is heartfelt yet feel-good despite the sad parts and it is one that I wanted to start again immediately after having finished. I could not help but have empathy for Arthur and I liked Esther a lot. I felt Maddie's regret at not having been there for Arthur as much as she would have liked. 

It was a joy to be swept along on this emotional cultural journey through pain and a harsh reality in the quest to find lost love split between the present day and wartime France. The French phrases in the book made it all the more authentic. 

I was smiling at some parts and holding back the tears in others. Be prepared to really feel when you have this book! 

Thanks to Suzanne Fortin and Aria & Aries for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book from the beginning. I immediately felt such empathy for Arthur, struggling with dementia and living with his granddaughter, Hazel, who seems to have reached the end of her patience in her caring role. Arthur is the very picture of a benign old gentleman, a bit confused and totally dependent on the help of others. When I worked in a residential home for the elderly, I easily grew attached to elderly residents like this. However, even in that act of enjoying caring for these men, we’re dismissing so many things about them. We’re almost seeing them like a cute, but battered old teddy bear. I would forget that they were once young like me (I was 20) and that they’d had aspirations for their lives: careers to embark on, love affairs to pursue, and the world to see. That is until war came along and those plans were ripped up to be replaced with roles in the forces, defending Europe against the steady rise of Hitler and his Nazi party. The sacrifices made by men and women at this time shouldn’t be underestimated. They gave up that time where I had the luxury of starting to know myself, to forge an adult identity. I soon realised that the people I was caring for had once been young like I was with all of the same experiences and feelings I did. They’d felt passion, excitement, love, and all the things that bring enjoyment to life. Their old, often broken body, was merely a shell and once I understood this proper connections started to form with residents. I would encourage memory boxes, and displays up around the home showing the resident’s lives so that all carer’s could see and start relating as one human to another instead of carer and patient.

I felt the author captured the confusion and distress of dementia incredibly well. Once his other granddaughter Maddy moves in to look after him along with her daughter, Esther, life does settle into a better pattern for Arthur and he is more relaxed. In the chapters told from Arthur’s point of view, the way he relates to the world is so moving. The author describes the sensation of knowing something, such as his great-granddaughter’s name, but being unable to reach it. Arthur knows the knowledge is there, he just can’t remember where he put it. The frustration of this must be enormous, but with the love and understanding he receives from Maddy and Esther, these absences of knowledge don’t bother him so much. He can let them go in the knowledge the information will return, possibly because he’s being treated with patience and respect. The description of ‘sundowning’ was brilliant, referring to the distressing symptom of increased confusion towards nightfall with insomnia and often pacing up and down as the differences between night and day seem to disappear. The symptom Arthur is finding most distressing is the loss of distinction between different times:

‘He knew his name was Arthur Pettinger and he was ninety-six years old. He also knew he was in his bedroom because on the door was a picture of himself with his name written underneath. Tomorrow, he might not know any of this. Yesterday, he was twenty years old and loading bales of hay onto the back of his father’s tractor.’

Often he’s unsure about who is looking after him, but he knows they do it with such love. Just as he experiences stages of his own life simultaneously, he can experience people in the same way:

‘Maddy Pettinger. Of course, dear, sweet Maddy – his granddaughter. He could see her when she was a small child, maybe about five or six. She was wearing a blue pinafore dress and her hair was in bunches with blue ribbon. A warmth filled his heart’.

The distress seems to come as he remembers a particular woman called Maryse who he met in France when in a mission with Special Operations. There is something about this mission that will not leave his memory and since it must have been very traumatic and emotional that’s not surprising, what is surprising to Maddy is that a woman she has never heard of holds such a huge part of her grandfather’s heart and memory. However, for Arthur, Maryse might have been with him just yesterday and all the feelings still remain, as strong as they were fifty or sixty years before. He can simultaneously be deep in conversation with Maryse only to find her disappeared, and this is the cause of his distress. He is losing her and experiencing deep grief. Over and over again. His way of describing his illness is one of the most apt I’ve ever read. Here he describes how memories and ideas become difficult to extract from the mess in his head. It’s all:

‘muddled up in his mind like a heap of spaghetti and he didn’t know where the strands of thought started. They were a jumbled mess of words and images, fragments of memory and snatches of thought – all knotted up together’.

The sections where we travel back and see the full account of Arthur’s mission into France during WW2 are powerful and moving. It’s not hard to see how feelings were amplified, by the danger they were facing on a daily basis. If you don’t know whether you’ll be alive tomorrow, you want to be sure those you love know you love them. The growing feelings between Maryse and Arthur are plain to see and I was devastated by the scenes where they ended up separated. It’s hard to know whether Arthur’s dementia is stirring up emotions for a love affair unfinished, whether Maryse was left in danger, or if things were finished and he doesn’t remember. This is the worry that granddaughter Maddy has. Her daughter Esther’s normal cooking channel goes viral when she asks for help finding Maryse, but Maddy is struggling over how to handle it. She’s even more cross when Esther approaches her ex-boyfriend Joe to do the investigation. Joe works as an historical investigator so in Esther’s mind he’s the right man to call, but she doesn’t understand the emotions involved. Maddy was broken hearted when their relationship ended, will she be able to lean on him now to help her grandfather? Even if she does, will she be making things worse for Arthur - what if they are too late and Maryse has already passed away?

The resolution, when it came, was not what I expected and actually made me cry. Not just for these two lovers, but for the many individual losses that happen during wartime as people become scattered from those they love. Often making huge sacrifices to keep them safe, such as those made by parents in the novel. It showed me how hard it can be to fully understand what a person with dementia is going through and the significance of what they are saying. Are they distressed because they’ve left something unresolved, or because it’s unresolved in that moment and later they’ll remember again. There is a comfort for family members in realising deep down there’s recognition; they may not be experiencing you in the now, but they might be with your four year old self instead. My grandma, who had dementia for the last two years of her life, once said to me: ‘I can’t go to bed there’s a little girl hanging on my legs’. In the next second she looked at me quite sharply and added: ‘is it you?’ I think it probably was, but a toddler me, back in the early 1970s. She’d made the connection in that moment and in a way knew exactly who I was. For Arthur there are moments when he’s still there, at the farmhouse with Maryse, sitting and talking in the woods, slowly falling in love. I hoped that when he did pass away, that he could live in those moments forever.

This review has been on the blog tour this weekend,
Was this review helpful?