Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Although, in most cases you normally can, it would be a real shame to go past this absolute gem because of it’s dressing.
The book is an exquisite examination of family, grief, dying and the father-daughter relationship, as well as an exploration of place and family anecdote in shaping meaning in life.
The narrator is a writer who lost her father, and through her travels with grief and letting go, as well as her exploration of her past and her sense of place, she finds herself again. I guess that sounds kind of dry and potentially depressing, but it’s really not. Jennings writes with humour about her family, their eccentricities and her own, and the places that she travels both physically and emotionally. She writes about her relationship, and how it evolves and grows deeper. And I loved her exploration of the father-daughter relationship, how they hadn’t always gotten along, that she had hated her father at times, and how other people knew different sides of him than she did.
I loved it. I loved all of it. It’s largely an anecdotal story. As she talks about her father, she talks about her past, little stories, or exploring places, rediscovering them, her need to hoard things that belonged to him. It’s very simple, slipping between her past and her present, her father as he was at different times, and herself as she was when she was younger, and her travels to different places around the world, often places her father had been.
I think perhaps there are not enough books about the father-daughter relationship. There are also not many books that explore grief and death in ways that are mundane rather than dramatic, that are both insightful and uplifting. This is just such a book.