The opening of this tale by Sarah Pinborough is very simple and powerful. A woman is watching her father dying. Over the course of the book she is visited by her elder sister, her two younger brothers (twins) and her older brother. The house she is in is now owned by her but was their family home in the past. Her story reflects not only on the current situation but also on incidents in the past.
The family is/was somewhat more dysfunctional than most. The funny, moving, family foibles are gradually revealed. The reflections are interspersed with current time. The title of the book is accurate – much of the story uses the words connected with the “language of dying”. The discomfort of society in dealing with this language is very clear in places. Into this mix is thrown a touch of madness maybe and a little fantasy. Even if this is not absolutely clear I did find it worked well for me.
I read this book in under 24 hours and will remember it for far longer than that. It is one of the best books I’ve read in the last year. And yet I find it hard to work out exactly why. The writing is the key I guess. I found it wonderful and ethereal. The woman’s dialogue – internal and external – caught hold of me completely. It covers a subject which many of us will have been through ourselves in some way (if not the dysfunctional family aspect!). The fantasy and edginess of the book appealed a lot. The ending while not unexpected left me satisfied. Ultimately the simplicity of this tale coupled with the power of the writing made for a beautiful read for me.
Note – I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review