After living in the uk for many years, Emily Kirkland is called home to New Zealand to care for her dad, Felix who has dementia and deteriorating rapidly. Returning home also brings back painful memories of Leah Parata, friend and neighbour, who vanished without trace twenty five years ago. It’s an unsolved mystery that still lies at the core of the community.
As Emily settles back into life at home she gets to know her dad probably more than she’s ever known him before. The dementia peels away his layers and he opens up to her with an honesty and rawness that she’s never seen from him before.
This book, this book, this book! I’ve read quite a few of Charity Norman’s books already so know how talented she is, but she really has excelled herself here. The writing is exquisite; carefully, methodically the stories and secrets of this family are revealed, with breathtaking precision and dignity. I loved the relationship between Emily and her dad SO much. The way they grew closer tugged at my heartstrings. The way past wrongs were brought to the present and finally explained & justified was incredibly moving, I could see Emily’s entire history with her father being rewritten throughout the pages of the book.
It was also a poignant yet powerful depiction of the destruction dementia reaps. Seeing this intelligent man, a doctor & stalwart of the community, being unable to recognise his own daughter was brutal but unbelievably compelling.
Finally I will just say that the ending was simply magnificent. It broke my heart - let’s be honest there was never going to be a happy ending here, but this was perfect and moving and heartbreaking and glorious in equal measure.
I read this book in a day and a half because I simply couldn’t put it down. If you haven’t tried this author then you really should, she’s at the top of her game. Another 2022 favourite. 🙌