by Frances Garrood
When Ernest dies (suddenly, of a heart attack, at age 83), his widow Annie will not agree to have the words “beloved husband” put in the advertisment.
Annie’s son Billy worries about his mother’s reactions after the death of his father. And no doubt, some of her behaviour does seem rather odd; and would probably by most people be ascribed to shock, grief or dementia (or all three).
Death, it would seem, muddled up all the rules of normal behaviour.
(quote from Ch. 1)
The two people who manage to see past the oddities and show genuine interest in Annie as a person, are the local vicar, Andrew, and Annie’s granddaughter, Ophelia. Talking to Andrew, Annie gets a chance to look back on her life and tell her story; while the arrival of Ophelia helps her not to get too stuck in the past.
The main focus of the novel is not really ageing and death, but relationships. I think that Frances Garrood manages quite well to spotlight not only the changes taken place in society over the past seventy years or so (in what we regard as “normal” when it comes to love, relationships and marriage) but also a more timeless discrepancy between romantic ideals vs real life.