A Long Goodbye is contemporary romance novel set in the somewhat unusual setting of a care home in Cambridge.
Simon is an accountant, a successful one. He’s sporty with a love of running, not just the taking part but watching other athletes and reading the magazines as well as challenging himself to beat his personal best. He’s funny, good-looking and he has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease. He is just forty years old and faces the challenges ahead with fortitude and a sense of humour.
Emma works at Orchard Care Home, a residential home that usually houses the elderly who need to have the love and support of their professional team. Emma is married to a man she met earlier in her caring career, she’s now managing the home but keeps her hand in with the patients. Her husband Michael has meanwhile risen through the ranks and now works away for much of the time which combined with the lack of a much-wanted baby has left their marriage much in need of some tender care.
Readers of my blog will know that romance, unless combined with history, is not my usual genre but underneath it all, I do have a soul. I chose to read this book after being contacted by the author who is a local man and alighted on the fact that sales of A Long Goodbye are raising funds for funds raised for both the Jersey Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Society. So many of us will have experienced the hard realities of dementia, it is indeed often a long goodbye, one where both the sufferer and those that love them lose pieces of the very essence of the person bit by bit. And unless you’ve been on a tour of care homes as I had to do for my mother, you might have a preconceived idea of what they have to offer. I’m not going to lie, I did visit one or two that smelled of wee and had a bunch of women parked in chairs in front of a TV, but there were far more who had put a real effort into providing a homely atmosphere whilst providing the facilities required for those who are sadly beyond the outings and fun and I could recognise aspects of this in Orchard Care Home. It is a positive shout-out too for those who staff these homes and provide all manner of support to their patients and their families alike.
Anthony Le Moignan’s book is based on facts, his father suffered with Alzheimer’s, and so while he creates a story that pulls at those heart-strings, he doesn’t use his fiction to create either a totally unrealistic portrayal of this cruel disease but nor is it in any way sensationalist. The story is lovely, the characters a wide variety from the obviously kind and caring Emma to a real doozy of a money-grabbing woman who makes an unwelcome appearance during the story. I was worried that A Long Goodbye would be too saccharine sweet for my tastes, but it wasn’t, far from it, I actually found it to be a thoughtful novel, with many of those truths that I suspect we all look for within the books we read and no, these are not all specifically related to the Alzheimer angle. The story moves along at a pace with some tender moments that bought a tear to my eye so have the hankies at the ready!
A well-written novel that explores love from a variety of perspectives and yet balances this with some genuinely funny moments with a real feel for the characters. A great debut and I for one will be looking to see what the author comes up with next.