Bridgetown College is a Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board School
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Book Reviews

Elizabeth is Missing

Maud spends a great deal of her time trapped in her house, which she is dissuaded from leaving for her own safety. Although often she forgets this and goes to the corner shop to buy peach slices – again. (Not that that was what she went in for.) On a daily basis Maud’s long-suffering daughter Helen and various carers pop into the house. Maud has very little idea where they came from, when they arrived or how long they have been there. She writes herself notes: “No more peach slices.” “Elizabeth is missing.” However, the notes seem to make things worse not better.

The narrative flits between the present day and Maud’s digressions into the post-war period, when her newly married sister, Sukey, went missing. These passages come alive with detail and life: Maud does not struggle to remember anything when she is transported back in time in her own mind.

It is incredibly well written, you really feel like you are in the room with Maud.

Not a particularly easy read, but it really gives an insight into coping with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.  I began to feel addled myself after a couple of chapters.

Alison Coard-Guthrie

Elizabeth is Missing

I found this book to be a profound commentary on a woman’s descent into oblivion through Alzheimer’s Her attempts to make sense of past events were disturbing as it reveals her struggle through the fog of her illness to piece together the elements of her life. The book was thought provoking on the toll illness could take on the family members who are carers.

Mary Fitzgerald

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Victoria Hislop weaves a moving tale of heartbreak and love. Set on the Island of Crete and on Spinalonga a leper colony, it tells the story of one family through several generations. This novel examines the devastating effects of leprosy on ordinary people, and how it affected their lives. I was hooked from the beginning and loved the characters and the way the story unfolded. It is a brilliant read a mixture of fact and fiction something to make you want to pack up and explore Crete and its colourful history.

Siobhan Doyle

Book Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife

Newly married nineteen-year-old Gwen leaves her family in Gloucester to join her much older previously widowed husband Laurence, owner of a tea plantation in Ceylon, (now Sri-Lanka). The story starts with Gwen arriving alone in her new surroundings at the harbour and meeting a Sinhalese artist, Savi Ravasinghe who will prove to be a key character throughout the novel. On meeting up with her husband, it is obvious that Laurence does not like Savi. The novel is set in the 20’s and is filled with beautiful imagery of the sights and smells of life in Ceylon, the parties, the class structure within the household, racial tension, servants in vast contrast to the workers on the plantation who are living practically destitute with the undercurrent rumblings of independence and uncertainty and with the collapse in the stock market the chance that life could suddenly change.
Gwen is soon pregnant but it is in the delivery room where Gwen is faced with a huge dilemma and must bear the weight of an enormous secret that could destroy her life if it were to be revealed.
Laurence too has his own family secrets that Gwen will stumble upon through the story. Gwen does her best to carry on as normal despite her interfering sister in law and with support from her loyal servant Naveena and her cousin Fran. Will the secrets and lies be the undoing of this family? Can they survive the damage?
I enjoyed the book to a certain extent but found myself hovering between empathy and frustration with the main character Gwen. Her situation was certainly heart breaking and the decisions she made most probably were right for the era. It did have me thinking what I would have done if I were in her shoes. I read on eagerly as I was keen to found out what happened next but was left disappointed with the ending. I did not warm to any of the characters.

Gayle Daly

Bridgetown College,
Co. Wexford.
Y35 R628

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