Sunday 5 November 2023

Strange book on a long-ish weekend...

We turned the clocks back this morning, so today is an extra hour longer, which is wonderful - I wish I could figure out how to manage this every weekend!!

I spent part of that extra hour finishing a very strange book by Canadian author Iain Reid called We Spread, which is a finalist for this year’s Governor General’s Award.  This story, set in Six Cedars, a small long-term-care residence in the midst of a forest, follows Penny, an elderly woman and artist who, after a fall in her apartment, is moved to Six Cedars, which she supposedly picked out with her recently deceased partner years before in case of such a crisis situation.  She doesn’t want to be there, but finds that, although she hasn’t painted in years, she suddenly feels inspired to start working again.  This, along with her increased appetite and her restful sleeps, lulls her into believing that this place really is good for her, that she’s benefiting from it in more ways than one.  She also enjoys the company of the other three residents, particularly Hilbert, a mathematician with whom she forms a bond, as well as that of Jack, a handyman and aide, a jack-of-all-trades who seems to like her and to want to help.  But when she starts experiencing confusion and loses track of time, she begins to suspect that all is not what it seems at this supposedly safe place, and she must do everything in her power to find out what’s really going on and try to save herself and the others before it’s too late.  This was a very short, very strange book, but I’ve read I’m Thinking of Ending Things by this same author (which has recently been made into a Netflix movie!) and thinking back, that, too, was quite creepy.  I think what Reid was addressing in this novel was the ways in which the elderly are marginalized in today’s society, stripped of their unique personalities, life experiences, skills and desires - he just goes about it in an interesting way.  It was certainly worth reading, and definitely sucked me in so that I wanted to find out what happened next and how it would all end.  I took out my Scrabble tiles to see if there was a hidden puzzle based on what I thought might be a clue at the end, but I gave up after only a few minutes, as I wanted to write this post before it got too late (I always forget that it gets dark so early when we change the clocks).  

That’s all for tonight.  Take care and keep reading!

Bye for now…

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