This is the poignant story of Maisie who is suddenly left widowed after the death of her husband Clifford, in what can only be described as a freak accident.
Throughout their marriage Maisie and her children have been surrounded by Clifford’s hoarding obsession, and I must admit I started to see this as a type of abuse. In fact, right from the start where we first meet the young couple, and he’s bought this run-down, out-of-the-way house without even telling her or getting her opinion, I didn’t like him!
Cresswell writes beautifully though, and has a way of engaging her reader and almost ‘talking you round’ your dislike of a character. Through her eventual revelations as to why Clifford was the way he was, I grudgingly admitted a certain compassion towards him. I would have thought that upon his death, one of the first things Maisie would have done would have been to open those boxes that were strictly off limits for her entire marriage. I still think that the fact that it took her so long to do so was borne out of a certain measure of fear.
I loved Maisie’s practical pragmatism. Although she’s initially overwhelmed by the curveball that life has thrown at her, realising that she literally has a mammoth task to confront, she soon settles to breaking it down into small, bite-size chunks, clearing out manageable sections of the house at a time. She also teaches herself to navigate the outside world on her own, one step at a time, something that she’s not used to, as Clifford wasn’t partial to socialising (again, I interpreted this as a type of abuse and manipulation, although I may be being a bit extreme due to my initial dislike of his character).
One of my biggest shocks, quite early on, was to discover that Maisie was not the elderly widow that I had imagined her to be! I was picturing her as this sweet, rather feeble lady, possibly in her late sixties or seventies and she’s only 48 – that’s a year younger than me!!
This is a charming book that takes a sensitive look into the relationships that exist in a marriage, between both husband and wife and parents and children; between families, extended families and their social interactions. It examines what we’re willing to tolerate for our partners and what we’re able to overlook for the sake of keeping the peace in our homes.
Many thanks to the author and TBC Reviewer Request Group (on Facebook) for my copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.