I have never really appreciated what it is like to 'grow old', or even put that much thought towards the subject but I have to admit the reality of this book awakened a whole era I had dismissed as way off in my future (the foolishness of youth right?) This book captured old age in a way that I have never read before, or even seen in film.
The book depicts the life of Maud, narrated by herself in present day in which she is an old lady with a grown up daughter and grandchildren, as well as narrating past events from her childhood when her sister disappeared. The writing style is lovely, if not a little sad due to the nature of Maud having memory difficulties which gradually get worse throughout the book, and refreshingly told through the eyes of someone (due to age/ ability) who is often overlooked as narrator. From the very first page the reader is struck by how obviously Maud's opinions and voice are over looked and ignored and dismissed as foolish/irrelevant due to her condition and age- its shocking to see how frustrated family, friends and carers get with her and yet she has no way of explaining how frustrated she is that she can't explain herself properly or simply forgets the thread of her thoughts. I made an active note to try and be more patient with my own family and others.
I also loved the parallels that are subtly drawn between the past and the present story lines- in particular the similarities between present day Maud as an elderly lady and the 'mad women' she remembers from her childhood; this is clever writing at its best. These similarities are so subtle they would be easily missed but they add so much depth to the book and I imagine if I re-read it in a few months I would be able to spot many more parallels. Another thing I love about the writing is the beautiful imagery created, in particular when characters are alone with their thoughts, and the complexity of the description elevates the story and characters to whole new level.
The story is cleverly crafted, if the tiniest bit slow, and because of Maud's memory issues you get a very unique but captivating crime mystery story although I think avid crime readers might be a little frustrated with the story and would probably guess the ending easily. That is not to say that crime fans should stay clear its just something to bear in mind- those that are new to crime would most likely find this a fantastic storyline. And yes part of the reason I bought the book was because it has a stunning hardback cover but life is too short to deny oneself beautiful books.