Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemaking for the Down-at-Heart

There’s something really comfortable about reading a book that’s set in your home town. Finuala Dowling’s Homemaking for the Down-at-Heart is exactly that – comfortable. I read it in a day, and was sad when it was finished because I really liked the characters and I wanted to interact with them more.

You see, they’re real and believable and imperfect, like us all. And they’re living in my world, well, just down the road from my world, but in places that are familiar and doing things that are equally as familiar and flowing between happy and sad and disinterested and guilty-for-being-disinterested and tired and productive and just-bloody-getting-on-with-it, determinedly.

It’s essentially a book about a late-night radio presenter who is an ex-wife to a serial-cheating, unhappy and unfulfilled, pseudo-comedian; a mother to a daughter entering adolescence with an imagination that’ll save her (my favourite character); a daughter to her mother who’s falling into the heart-breaking clutches of dementia; a girlfriend to a guy with a surprising character not shown by his shell; and a landlady to an alcoholic friend who’s a psychic and a dreamer.

It’s written from all of their perspectives, with snippets from her mother’s guide to living, which includes the philosophy that a house must have dirt and mess to be lived in and loved. It also documents her mother’s decline into dementia and the messiness and disappointment and frustration that this devastating disease causes. But it’s not a depressing book about dementia, its real and raw and honest and about life and living it, mainly from the lead character’s perspective.

What I’d really love to do is invite all the characters over to my messy house and drink wine with them and discuss, honestly, the messiness of life as we know it.


Angela said...

Oh, life IS messy, in many respects. No order in it, no clue. Just the explanations we give it, and never far from total chaos. But you`ve got to lean back and clean up, at least mentally, once in a while. And also not let the mess on your floor and in your kitchen take over.
But on the whole I love a little untidyness, too.

Shiny said...

Me too Geli! There's nothing like a good clean-up in between though xx

Kristin said...

A house must have dirt, indeed; though, I hope to clean mine this weekend just to reclaim a little of it for myself... Dementia frightens me with very good reason as I see a second grandmother suffering. She can no longer communicate, my beautiful, witty grandmother. It's a hard topic but one well worth discussing.