Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Book Review - "The Comfort Of Others" by Kay Langdale.



I received a copy of this title, from bookbridgr.com, in return for an honest review...

Friends can be found  in the strangest of circumstances.  
Elderly spinster, Minnie, lives in the family home with her sister Clara.  Their country estate, Rosemount, while once grand and vibrant with garden parties and tennis matches, has dwindled through the years and now they live a modest life with their crumbling mansion surrounded by modern houses.  
Eleven year old Max lives directly opposite the ladies and can see them through his bedroom window.  He notices that Minnie seems to be writing in a diary each evening, while he pours his heart out into a small dictaphone.  
These two may have nothing obviously in common, but sometimes the bond between the young and the old surprises even the most cynical person.

Once again, Kay Langdale has delved into the mind of a child and brought them to life with her stunning prose.  Max's story is one of change, uncertainty and coming of age.  His mother has brought him up single-handedly and he is very perturbed when she finds a new boyfriend.  It had always been just the two of them and Max is not feeling so great about the new arrival in their lives.  Meanwhile, Minnie is coming to terms with her past.  She is finally addressing long-suppressed memories and finds writing her diary has a therapeutic effect.  She watches Max from her first floor window and sees he is a troubled soul.  When she invites him into Rosemount for tea, an unlikely friendship develops between a child heading for adulthood and an adult who has hidden from the memories of  her  own childhood.  A mutual love of antiques and straight talking become a ritual that both characters begin to embrace.  Both are in pain and seem to have found their route to temporary relief.

A harrowing back story blends in with a modern tale of displacement; bringing a perfect novel of  gentle friendship and respect.  Using the polar opposite protagonists, the author shows pain from different perspectives, all the while showing how sometimes the elderly and the young have more in common than many expect.  Both are semi-dependent and reply on others honesty.  Both seem to require patience and understanding.  Both can have moments of loneliness that can be forgotten by their younger/older contemporaries.  Simply put; they have time for each other.  No jobs, no dependents, no time-watching or responsibilities.  Minnie may have her sister under the same roof, and Max has his mother, but neither feel relaxed enough to speak their minds in their home environments.  Their unlikely friendship unfolds with mutual respect and they find out more about themselves than they ever anticipated.  A wonderful array of minor characters bring added humour to the novel, with Max's friend Eddie hopping off the page with his quirky ways and Clara silently rambling through the corridors of Rosemount.  The antiques that fascinate Max are enchanting and the reader can almost smell their history and see their dusty surroundings.  

Don't be fooled by the cover of this novel, which implies a light, fluffy read. It is delightful and heartbreaking in equal measures.  It shows how secrets can eat up a persons soul, yet the right friendship can free their spirit.  If you are a fan of  Maggie O'Farrell or enjoyed the wonderful Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey, this is the perfect read for you.  It is a book written with beautiful words, endearing characters and is a tale of trust and mutual respect, no matter what your age...
Highly Recommended.

The Comfort Of Others in published by Hodder Books and is available in HB and ebook format.


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