Florence is a courageously independent 84-year old who has fallen in her retirement home and is awaiting to be rescued. Lying prone in her front room is not a place you could imagine adventure and mystery to reveal itself, but through Florence’s memories and with the help of her two friends the past intertwines with the present in a beautifully told tale of friendship and ageing.
When a mystery man turns up at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly, Florence is sure she recognises him from her youth – a man who had died nearly sixty years ago. The mystery man, and the ramifications of his arrival are at the basis of this warm and touching novel. Elsie is Florence’s best friend from childhood and Jack is a newer friend at the retirement home – they work together to solve the mystery but in doing so, distant memories are stirred up and Elsie and Florence worry that the issues that have laid buried for years may come to light….
At times the melancholy nature of Florence’s predicament could feel depressing but there is humour and laughter to be found as well as some hard realities about loneliness and decrepitude. The author’s beautiful turn of phrase and Psychiatrist background make this a mystery with a difference. A slow read to begin with, the story gathers pace as the mystery of the new man at the retirement homes unravels and reveals.
This Richard and Judy bookclub pick from 2018 is acutely observed and explores old age and the ageing process from different angles. A great, all round read.