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Poignant novel set mainly in South East LONDON

5th March 2021

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons, poignant novel set mainly in South East London.

Poignant novel set mainly in South East LONDON

Eudora is now in her 80s and has tired of life, a life of care for others. She is curmudgeonly, she suffers from the aches and pains that often accompany older age and she has made her decision. She is off on a one way ticket to Switzerland so that at least she has control over how her life might end. To date she has largely had to accommodate the needs of others and now that she is alone in her later years, it is is the one aspect over which she has any power.

There are flashbacks to periods of her life that explain why she has now come to this point. Her father departed as part of the war effort and never returned, leaving her to ensure that her mother and her sister would be cared for. Her sister was quite a wayward little girl, full of life and fury and Eudora often had to referee heated exchanges between mother and sister. Her mother became reliant on Eudora’s presence and support and the roles over time gradually reversed, Eudora caring for her mother in an almost maternal capacity.

Could one say that Eudora has become embittered in the twilight years? I think so. New neighbours move in next door and little Rose exuberantly makes overtures to befriend Eudora. At first you can feel Eudora’s reticence but as Rose and her rambunctious nature assail Eudora’s defences, she begins to buckle and allows herself to engage with life. She takes to Richard Osman and watches the old favourite “Pointless” which he hosts. She reluctantly agrees to try her first pizza, enjoys it and rather revels in the banter that naturally happens when you are out and about in good company. Not, of course, forgetting her feline companion, Montgomery, who is grumpy as the book opens but soon finds his more relaxed side as Rose bounces in and out.

Eudora has had terrible disappointments, heartache and trauma in her life. Will Rose’s charm and bubbly nature be enough to encourage Eudora to want to continue living?

This is a poignant novel that comfortably flips between Eudora’s life now and her past experiences. It was perhaps a little slow to get going – the author goes to great lengths to set the scene of Eudora’s life now – but once the narrative found its rhythm, it bowled along and it will tug at your heart strings. Guaranteed!

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator – Nicolette McKenzie – had quite a tall order, needing to differentiate between multiple characters, young, old, past, present, male, female. Her voice for Eudora now, later 2010s, is rich and crusty, with well-rounded vowels and, oh dear, I couldn’t get the ‘dulcet’ tones of Ann Widdecombe out my head. Sorry. That’s probably a terrible thought to leave you with.

Setting isn’t particularly strong.

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