- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (January 17, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250051924
- ISBN-13: 978-1250051929
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (308 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Things We Keep: A Novel Paperback – January 17, 2017
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Praise for The Things We Keep
“Devastatingly beautiful.” ―People magazine
“Sure to appeal to fans of Jojo Moyes, Jodi Picoult, and Lisa Genova; book clubs will be lining up.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“An unconventional tearjerker of a love story...poignant and nuanced.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This captivating story serves as a reminder of just how important those people and moments are that keep us going when it seems like our world is falling apart.” ―RT Book Reviews on The Things We Keep
“Hepworth’s debut, The Secrets of Midwives, was critically acclaimed, and it’s always a formidable task to impress readers with a second novel. But with The Things We Keep, Hepworth proves that literary lightning can indeed strike twice.” ―BookPage
“Sally Hepworth delivers a beautiful, moving story with thoughtful grace…A lovely novel about the depth of memory, The Things We Keep may leave very few readers with dry eyes.” ―Shelf Awareness
“Stunning and beautiful, as well as heartbreaking and inspiring.” –Kirkus Reviews
“A rare gem.” –The Columbus Dispatch
“Heartwarming, fulfilling, and genuine.” –The Missourian
About the Author
Sally Hepworth is a human resource professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and two young children.
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Top Customer Reviews
She wrote: "Dear Reader, Five years ago, I watched a news segment about a woman—a newlywed—who was pregnant with her first child. She had also recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 31 years old. More recently a friend of mine, who is a nurse at a dementia facility, told me about an elderly man and woman who held hands in the communal living area of the center every day. They came into the facility as strangers. Their memories were less than five minutes long. They were both non-verbal. Yet every day, they sat next to each other. Every day he reached for her hand, and every day she allowed him to take it. And for them, every time was the first time. As I researched this book, I heard the story of a woman who didn’t remember that she was married, but who began to cry when she saw her wedding dress. The man who didn’t recognize his wife but gravitated toward her whenever she visited, often asking if she’d like to "take a walk sometime"—the very line he used when he asked her out the first time, sixty years earlier. The story of a grandfather who shielded his granddaughter from a dog, though he couldn’t have recalled who she was, let alone her terror of dogs. Dementia isn’t the only place that memories are found to be flawed—people find out they can’t rely on their memories every day. People blindsided in relationships. People who find out their truth is a lie. People pulled from trauma. People awakened. I wondered: If you can’t use memories to steer your life, what can you use? I didn’t know. It was why I had to write this book. I hope you enjoy it. Sally xox" After reading her words I immediately added this book to my list of books to read before the year was out.
The core story in this novel is about the relationship of Anna and Luke, two young people in their thirties with early on-set Alzheimer's, living in a residential assisted living facility, where they meet and fall in love. Their relationship presents some issues for their families and the staff at the facility. Eve is the cook at the home and she ends up playing a role in Anna and Luke's relationship. Eve is struggling with some hard adjustments in her life and it's very important for her to keep her job for the sake of her daughter, Clementine.
The book is narrated from three different points of view. Anna's story is shared with us starting fifteen months ago when she moved into Rosalind House. Her memories are still fairly well intact though she realizes her disease is progressing quickly. Anna's subsequent chapters move forward in time. Eve, working as a cook in the home, narrates in the present as does her daughter, the third narrator, six year old, Clementine.
There is a slightly pedantic style to the narration, frequently characters make it a point to frame a thought or feeling or ask a pointed question rather than just leaving something as an observation for the reader to contemplate. I dislike when authors do this and it always feels insulting to the reader. There's also a lack of richness to the characters and a lack of chemistry to the romantic relationships.
When I was in my twenties I worked at a residential facility that was home to Alzheimer's patients and in that context I had a hard time finding Eve's behavior realistic. She inserts herself into the lives of the residents and their personal relationships much too quickly. She violates their privacy and meddles in their personal affairs. She insults their families by acting as though she knows Anna and Luke better than they do and criticizes the way they are dealing with the challenges their relationship presents.
Eve's struggle to care for her daughter as a widow and single mother is fairly well portrayed and I found the majority of this thread of the story to be more realistic than Anna and Luke's story. Clementine is struggling with the death of her father and having difficulties at school because of things he did in his business practices. Parents are talking and children are being cruel. I thought the feelings, conflicts and relationships within Eve's family were well fleshed out. Unfortunately the school conflict escalates to a somewhat unlikely conclusion at the same time the climatic event in Anna and Luke's life is described. I felt the two events were too choreographed and would have preferred them to be revealed in a less dramatic way.
On the whole I would have preferred a less dramatic depiction to the entire story and a greater focus on the tender interactions between the characters. I often had difficulty finding the dialogue believable and frequently thought the script the characters were reading sounded like it came from a made for TV movie. It felt melodramatic rather than realistic and that was a disappointment to me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A sensitive and intelligent story of two women whose lives have been devastated, the...Read more