Catherine, a lover of social media, unemployed and drifting is finally driven to get a job as a way of avoiding another unpleasant evening meeting with her Mum where she would be presented with her failure following items for discussion, and quite possibly, a list!
The first of Catherine’s lists appeared when she was aged five:
- Make three new friends at school and ask them if they’d like to come over to play some time
- Write a story for me.
- Put your dirty clothes in the washing basket in the utility room (This, Catherine, is something I would like you to do from now on)
- Make your own breakfast – cereal and milk. (This is also something I’d like you to do from now on.)
- Do at least three kind things for others.
and they continued every Sunday until she left school.
The job Catherine managed to bag was at Dear Green nursing home where the most appealing of the residents is 82-year-old Rose. Rose has dementia and appears to be thrown back to an event that occurred when she was 10 and an evacuee with her sister at a farm. Rose is also a famous author and illustrator with a series of books to her name which features a brave little girl called Tilly, books the young Catherine had loved.
The early scenes of the book are very engaging, while Catherine is young and thoughtless she has some good qualities and the obvious mystery is what Rose is re-enacting when she is gripped by the memory from childhood, but also she is desperate to bring attention to the home, Room 7 is locked and Rose alludes to danger but is unable to articulate in words what she is so frightened of.
As more characters are introduced and then layered with individual characteristics, I was charmed by the captivating dialogue between Catherine and some of the residents, and slowly she appears to alter her opinion on her previously frivolous life and become more measured in her approach to her work, but this soon runs in tandem to something altogether darker and more disturbing.
I loved The Cry , despite the fact that it made me feel very uncomfortable, and had half-expected another scenario where all the characters had varying degrees of unpleasantness, but Helen FitzGerald is clearly not a one-trick pony. I can’t tell you any more about the plot without spoiling the story for others, but I am able to confirm that the characterisation is excellent with my opinion on some, particularly Catherine’s mother, swayed by the revelations that the author timed perfectly. Along with this the author has an expert touch cleverly building the tension while still keeping the overall feel of the story intact and the plot, well that was hole free!
In a way this story inevitably reminded me of Elizabeth is Missing , but in contrast to that book Rose retained control with less emphasis on the limitations of her illness as a whole, instead focussing in the long ago event that had such an impact on her life. However like Elizabeth she had a mystery in the past and one in the present and only at the point of revelation does it all become clear.
Another winner from this talented author and I want to say a big thank you to the publishers Faber and Faber for allowing me to read this book prior to the publication date of 5 February 2015