Reviewer: Sheila Grant
Publisher: 2QT Limited 27th August 2021
ISBN: 978-1914083198 PB
A desperately sad and emotional read written in the first person as Emma reflects and recalls the relationship she had with Mark. The book opens as she attends his funeral, grief-stricken and bereft, while desperately trying to stay calm as few attending are aware that their friendship had been so deep.
The book moves back and forth in time showing that they did at one time share many happy times together. Once Mark revealed his cancer diagnosis these occasions became rare.
There are chapters bursting with their happiness in enjoying similar pleasure, eating together, walking in the country or travelling abroad, the latter reading like a travelogue. Sadly the good times are outstripped by the increasingly uncomfortable times when Mark becomes rude and belligerent treating Emma with disdain, contempt and generally demeaning her.
The writing is beautiful and flowing and the story is extremely moving. I can relate to the awful sense of loss that Emma endured when he died. However I cannot understand her acceptance of his treatment when the simplest thing she did to help him was condemned and ridiculed with sarcasm. His illness is too easy an excuse and his behaviour adds much discomfort to the reading of this book.
Supporting a loved one through terminal illness is a challenge and requires fortitude and understanding and many readers will find this tale distressing, awakening the sadness of loss. The power of Emma’s loyalty and devotion is central to the book and she is a wonderful character facing a challenge with fortitude and rarely retaliating.
Written from the heart and I suspect from reality, it was not an easy or even comfortable read. I felt I was invading someone’s privacy. It also begs the question. Could I be as strong as Emma?