The Gingerbread House by Kate Beaufoy
|The Gingerbread House by Kate Beaufoy|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: If you don't laugh you'll cry, so you might as well laugh is the premise for this story about debilitating dementia and the impact it has on families|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: March 2017|
|Publisher: Black and White Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
The Gingerbread House is not a cottage from a fairytale where a wicked old witch lives but it is in a wonderful rural setting, perfect for getting away from it all. Or it would be, if it weren't for the lady who lives there who, while far from a witch, can be a bit of a b*tch. It's not entirely her fault. Eleanor has dementia and her fading mind makes her confused, angry and quite hard work to care for. With her current carer off to attend her daughter's wedding, Eleanor's daughter in law Tess steps up to assume this role in the interim, bringing her precocious daughter Katia with her.
It's Katia, perhaps surprisingly, who narrates this story and this is a lovely touch. She is marginally removed from the battles between Tess and Eleanor, and can therefore observe and report on these with her own perspective. This is important more so towards the end, but even from the first page you realise there's something special about a teenage girl volunteering to go and help mind her grandmother in the middle of nowhere for a few weeks.
This is a family drama, largely female, and the intergenerational differences shine through, underpinned throughout by an unrelenting love. You can't choose your family, but you can choose how you deal with them and their challenges, and Tess must be admired for this. It is a story about relationships as much as it is about dementia, though with Eleanor you can feel like your relationship is with two different women, depending on how she is feeling.
The writing is both fun and funny, but for every entertaining page there is also a tender one. It can get quite dark at times but then the comedy will end and you'll be back in the present where old ladies wet themselves and then lie about it, either through shame or forgetfulness. There are a few quirks too, like Katia being a scuba diver, and Eleanor liking an afternoon snack of a pancake. Little things that are not unfathomable but are also not too common, so you feel like you're meeting real characters rather than just cookie cutter ones.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. It's honest and thought-provoking, and a fresh, unique read. Readers might also enjoy The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Gingerbread House by Kate Beaufoy at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Gingerbread House by Kate Beaufoy at Amazon.com.
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