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Review: Here & Now

May 6th 2021

A stunning story of a mind failing and a community coming together to save it.

A small English village. Marigold has looked after her family and the village shop all her life. But when her mind starts to fade, it’s time for the community to step in and do the remembering for her.

LMR review:

When Santa Montefiore sat down to write this book, she said she wanted to create a story of love in the face of tragedy – and she’s certainly achieved that in this beautiful, heart-wrenching novel.

The book tackles the difficult subject of dementia through the story of Marigold – the owner of the village shop who has served her community her entire life. She’s a selfless kind of woman, normally so on it – making sure every family has their Christmas pudding ready for a perfect festive get-together, and gently berating the village gossip for her prying ways. Everyone expects everything of her because she’s always there for them. So when her memory starts to fail her and little things start to slip, she’s worried about letting everyone down – and letting them see that perhaps she needs help for a change. What she couldn’t have imagined was that the village would rally together to do the remembering for her.

Gentle, charming and definitely tear-jerking, this is a story of the many ways we can support each other that we never knew possible. The village is peopled with beautiful characters who show us what’s possible and what can be achieved when we look out for one another. Another novel that feels incredibly timely in a year where circumstances have brought out the very best in people.

There’s definitely an obligatory mascara warning with this one. The way that Montefiore gently draws out Marigold’s story and delicately observes her fears and humility makes for a really heart-rending read. Anyone who has ever watched a loved-one fade will recognise the extraordinary empathy of this book.

While heart-breaking and deeply moving, it’s also an upbeat and positive story about community and coming together, so resonate and timely right now. Readers shouldn’t be put off by the heavy subject because it’s dealt with a grace and tenderness that’s really beautiful to witness. Marigold and her husband Dennis are such a lovely couple and the breadth of their hearts is drawn so beautifully by the writer. The romantic sub-plot is perfectly balanced in the book. Anyone who loves a good book about people and how we relate to one another in a community, will absolutely fall in love with this one.


Style guide:

A gentle, descriptive, evocative of place and time. A tender read to be enjoyed at one’s leisure.

Extract:

It was snowing. Fat, fluffy flakes, as large as cotton balls, tumbled from the sky, while dawn struggled valiantly to herald the day through the canopy of dense cloud. Marigold stood by the kitchen window with her cup of tea. A stout figure in a babypink dressing gown and matching fluffy slippers, she watched with delight as the landscape was slowly revealed to her in all its glorious softness. Little by little the garden emerged out of the night: the yew hedge, the borders and the shrubs, the trees with their gnarled and twisted branches, all hunched and still, sleeping deeply beneath a luxurious quilt. It was hard to imagine life there in the frozen soil. Almost impossible to picture the viburnum and syringa flowering in the spring. Impossible to think of spring at all in this dead of winter.

At the bottom of the garden, beside her husband Dennis’s shed, the apple tree was materializing through the falling snow. With its thick trunk and knobbly branches it resembled a mythical creature caught in suspended animation by an ancient spell, or simply petrified by the cold, for it really was very cold. Marigold’s eyes caught sight of the feeder hanging forlornly from one of the branches. It was still attracting the odd intrepid bird which fluttered around it in the hope of finding an overlooked seed. Marigold had filled it the day before but now it was empty. Her heart went out to the hungry birds who survived the winter on account of her feeder. As soon as she’d finished her tea, she would put on her boots and go out to refill it.




Media reviews

Nobody does epic romance like Santa Montefiore' JOJO MOYES
'An enchanting read, overflowing with deliciously poignant moments' -
DINAH JEFFRIES

'Santa Montefiore hits the spot for me like few other writers' - SARRA MANNING
'One of our personal favourites' - The Times


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