Thank you to Netgalley and One More Chapter for a copy of the digital and audio versions of this book in exchange for an honest review. Also, thank you to One More Chapter for organising the readalong for this novel.
If I can choose how to live my own life, why can’t I choose how to die my own death?
Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.
But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?
A heartfelt story of life, death, friendship and family perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman
Wow! I’ve really struggles to bring myself to write this review for several reasons; my review will not do it justice in any way, and I have no idea where to begin.
Once in a while, a book comes along that knock me off my feet. It has the ability to both break my heart and repair it again, to make me fall in love with the characters and to spend weeks not being able to move on. This is one of those books and I urge you to read it. I flitted between the audio and digital version of this novel and can highly recommend either.
Eudora is done! She’s 85 and she’s had enough. A feisty lady, Eudora becomes set on the idea of ending her life her own way and with dignity. The date is in the calendar, there’s nobody to tell and she’s all set to go. But then new neighbours move in and Eudora becomes unwillingly caught up in the lives of others. But is it enough?
It took me a few chapters to get used to the narration. The present is told in the present tense and the past in the past which I often a little different than my usual genres however I soon became used to it and the more I read, the more natural it became. Told from a third person perspective but focussed on Eudora, the story has two timelines. We see the present world through Eudora’s eyes and also relive the past from her childhood into her older age.
Annie Lyons cleverly presents a character who is not completely likable and has an air of aloofness about her in the beginning. Eudora presents as a difficult old lady and the reader isn’t instantly drawn to her. Slowly revealing her past timeline in small pieces takes the reader on a journey of discovery and it becomes clear why Eudora is the way she is in later life. From these glimpses into her past, it wasn’t long before I began to develop empathy and more understanding around her. She is one of the most well developed characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about.
One of the main themes of the novel is relationships and their impact on others. It would have been easy for Eudora to have found a romantic interest for a happy ending however I don’t feel that would have done this story justice. Lyons builds a world of differing relationships around Eudora and these are all thought provoking and moving in their own ways. Rose just brings abundant youthfulness, wise thoughts and a relentless drive to make a connection with Eudora whilst Stan offers friendship and understanding but also really needs a friend too.
Annie Lyons tackles death with sensitivity but honesty throughout this novel and it’s refreshing. It should and needs to be talked about and I love the idea that’s introduced by the doula – a good death.
Finally, I couldn’t finish the review without mentioning the narration. The vocal performance was perfectly matched to Eudora’s prim and proper manners but also reflected rose’s exuberance beautifully too. A range of accents, tones and timbre of voice added depth to the characters and made the audio a dream to listen to.
This is a devastating, heart-warming beautiful novel of friendship and enjoying life to it’s full, no matter how old you are. I’m so grateful that I got to read it.
Author Bio – Annie Lyons
After a career in bookselling and publishing, Annie Lyons published five books including the best-selling, Not Quite Perfect. When not working on her novels, she teaches creative writing. She lives in south-east London with her husband and two children.