- Book: Meredith, Alone
- Location: Glasgow
- Author: Claire Alexander
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step..” (Lao Tzu)
The novel is set in the late 2010s and focusses on Meredith Maggs, a woman who hasn’t left her home for well over 1200 days. Within the confines of her dwelling she has the comfort of her cat, Fred, and her friend Sadie, who pops in now and then with her two children, and then Tom, who comes as a member of the support and befriending charity Holding Hands. She has no contact with her sister Fiona.
She writes and earns a living by doing so, she is au fait with modern technology and entertains herself with cooking, baking and above all doing jigsaws, a therapeutic and engrossing use of time. Doing jigsaws also feels like a metaphor for the pieces of her life which don’t comfortably slot together.
Her life to date has not been without its issues and difficulties (obviously, given her circumstances) and they have significantly contributed to her lifestyle situation. Her mother has been abusive, her father absent and her estrangement from her sister has its reasons, which become all too clear as the narrative unfolds. So, here she is, at home, leading a life that suits her emotional condition but could be so much more. Her friends subtly tempt her to spread her wings, her therapist supports her going forward. Can she find the strength and determination to re-enter life with all its challenges?
Sound like a familiar story? In many ways it is, thinking, for example, of novels like Elinor Oliphant is completely Fine (which also happens to be set in Glasgow) – the story of a woman battling with inner angst and sharing a slightly quirky exterior.
The author lays out the pieces of Meredith’s life in a coherent and very readable way. She is clearly very fond of her character, as is the reader but he end. It has sadness and humour and above all it is a heart warming and charming read. Recommended.
The setting of Glasgow is not particularly strong.