A profoundly moving story spanning three generations. Could he not put together a memory for her? Perhaps he could become her memory. To build it from fragments, or make it up. And most of all bring back Grace. Her own mother.
John visits his ageing mother, Mary, in her nursing home by the sea, and mourns the slow fading of her mind. Hoping to shore up her receding memory, he prompts her with songs, photographs, and questions from their shared past, taking her back to the 1940s, when she was a young woman and he a child in a small Cumbrian town. But as he rekindles her memories, it is her own mother she longs for - and John finds himself delving further back, into the secrets and silences of Mary's fractured childhood, and the unsung sorrows of her thwarted yet spirited mother, Grace.
In an effort to console his mother before she slips away, John sets out to re-imagine Grace's life, to honour the memory of a grandmother he barely knew.
Reaching from the late 19th century to the present, John's loving recreation of forgotten family history and unspoken maternal grief becomes a moving elegy for the long, hidden chain of love, loss, and self-sacrifice that forms each and every generation.
"Quite simply one of the best writers we have" (Sunday Telegraph)
"It's funny and sad and touching. With regular echoes of Thomas Hardy, this quiet, unshowy, book proves that novels can tell truths that are deeper and truer than the mere fact of memoir." (Alex Preston, The Observer)
"The pleasures of this elegant novel are many. Bragg's detailed evocation of the Wigton of his youth, the people that lived there, the beauty of the Cumbrian scenery, the lively sense of the region's long and varied history, is delightful. It's a novel that deserves to be read slowly, the details cherished." (Allan Massie, The Scotsman)
"The novel's multiple narratives are skilfully teased out from John's attempts to prolong meaningful life for his mother by stimulating her failing memory...For each generation, Bragg suggests, a key component of the quest is coming to terms with the past - a feat that his quietly intense novel pulls off with joy, sorrow and precision." (David Grylls, The Sunday Times)
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A tender story that's both sad and uplifting
Wonderful heartwarming story