Grandma has rapidly progressing senile dementia. The once tough, witty and self-reliant woman has had to be moved from her home in Glasgow to be nearer her family. She has always put her menfolk first, always been the carer, but now must let them care for her.
Grandma has three children....
- Martin who thinks she should have put straight into a Home and refuses to have anything to do with her care. Nor will he allow his children to visit in case they are frightened.
- Bridget who was the least favoured child now lavishes love on her mother with the certainty that she will get better. She is single, a nurse working shifts and a lover - Bridget is not always there when needed.
- Charlie pays the bills but tries to stay emotionally detached and seems unable to make decisions as to Grandma's future.
Hannah is seventeen - beneath the cheek she gives her Grandma and the disgust she feels at her lack of table manners and her embarrassing incontinence lies a compassionate heart and she is always willing to lend a hand. She is also very observant and constantly questions what is happening around her.
"I think if Bridget brings Grandma out (of hospital) and gives up her own job, goes onto Social Security to look after her, then she is mad. The question is: is it better to be mad or is it better to be sane and cruel?"I do think this is a book that will be most appreciated by anyone whose life has been touched by the loss of a loved one to dementia.
It's brilliance lies in this being a very ordinary family and so very easy to relate to on an emotional level. The different attitudes of the characters are recognisable, as are the small, day to day happenings that create such frustration and despair. If all this sounds a bit depressing, it's not! Margaret Forster writes with insight about one of life's sad and painful experiences but she does it with a great deal of humour and I laughed a lot.
Memorable and thought-provoking!