Title: The Carer
Author: Deborah Moggach
Published: 9th July 2019 / 14th of May 2020 (Paperback)
Format: Ebook – 272 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
I don’t know about you, but this week seems to be ever so long, I seem to have no time at all but also too much time on my hands at the same time. It’s very strange.
Today I’m bringing you another wonderful #RandomThingsTours organised by Anne Cater for Deborah Moggach’s new book, The Carer. When Anne sent me the email about this one I was instantly intrigued, it’s definitely not the kind of book I usually go for, but I’m glad I decided to pick it up. I also had no idea that Deborah Moggach was the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I remember watching the film quite a few years ago and it was such a great film, so now I know that I want to pick the book up too!
Thank you to Anne for letting me take part in this blog tour and for sending me the book, all opinions are my own.
From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns.
James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centers, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?
Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane – changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.
The Carer by Deborah Moggach is a contemporary novel about an old man who needs a carer and his middle-aged children and their very ordinary lives until something happens to tip their already unstable lives.
I have to admit that this isn’t the type of book that I usually pick up, I don’t really do run-of-the-mill type books, but I’m really glad I picked this up because it totally surprised me. The first impression I got of this book was that it was very witty, not just the characters who are all really bold and stand out from one another, but the writing style in itself and the tone of the book was witty and funny. It didn’t make me laugh out loud but it did make me smile quite a lot.
I have a very weird relationship with books where I either have all the feels and end up sobbing my heart out or laughing my head off, or nothing at all, and for once, this book was somewhere in between, so I was quite impressed.
The story is more of a mundane one, James who is Phoebe and Robert’s father is getting old and his health is failing, so they end up seeking the services of a carer called Mandy. As soon as she arrives, they witness a progressive change in their father’s demeanour and personality until the truth is revealed halfway through the book. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I was absolutely not expecting what happened in this book. Before I picked the book up, I had some expectations of what it would be, and it started out in that vein, but it quickly turned into something completely different and my brain started doing some Sherlock Holmes imitation trying to work out everything, but the actual thing that happened totally surprised me, I had absolutely no idea! So just for that, I reckon Deborah deserves a pat on the back.
This book is set in present-day England in the first part of the story, mostly in Wales, London, and around Oxford. We don’t get much of an insight into more of this setting because the story is very character-driven and concentrates mostly on the family and their own lives. Most of the books I read are set in the U.S., or in an imaginary setting so it’s a lovely change to have a book set in the UK. I’ve been reading quite a few books set in my birth country and it’s really nostalgic, to say the least.
I’m not entirely sure, but from what I grasped, the second part of the story is set in the 1960s. The first half of the book concentrates on Phoebe and Robert’s side of the story, with their feelings, their daily lives and their individual experiences with their dad, but the second half of the story is from their father’s point of view as well as a few other characters who don’t appear in the start of the novel but who are instrumental to the present-day events.
Phoebe: She is Robert’s daughter. We get a lot of insight into her character and personality. She is in her 60s but still harbours pain and regret that her father was very absent when she was growing up and unlike her brother, she is alone, struggling to come to terms with her life and rather sad about the whole affair. I have to say that neither Phoebe or Robert sound like 60-year-old people, they acted and spoke a lot younger than their age, but I did really enjoy reading characters who were a lot older because I usually only read about people in their teens or 20s at the oldest.
Robert: Much like his sister, Robert is fairly sad about his life. His wife is a famous news presenter on morning TV, their children have left home and they live in a swanky house in Wimbledon. However, every day he walks down to his hut in the garden and endeavours to write a novel. I sort of felt more for Robert because he seems to have everything a person would want but ends up sad anyway. A lot of the time in books there is a happily ever after, but what I like about The Carer is how realistic it is and it shows what happens in real life.
James: I suppose James is the main focus of the novel because he is the one being cared for and the other characters’ lives revolve around him, but we don’t get much of an insight into his personality in the first half of the book because we only see him through his children’s eyes. However, in the second part of the book with the points of view by him and various other characters, I think that we can really get a feel of who he is and see that he too is sad and lonely.
Mandy: I was not a great fan of this character in the book because I always expected the worst from her. I’m sure this was because of the expectations I had of this book and where I thought it was going, but even at the end of this book, I still didn’t like her very much, although I will say that her character was very distinct and well-written.
I don’t really know how much I can say about the themes in this book without giving away what actually happens so I’m just going to touch on the basic ones and let you figure out the rest if you decide to pick it up.
Old age/needing a carer: As I don’t read many books where the characters are over the age of 30, I don’t have much experience reading about old age and the need for a carer at the end of your life. I do think that the author did a really good job of showing the truth of what this entails and enough for it to matter, without it being too much. I suppose that you would want to stay away from this book if you know someone who is terminally ill or nearing the end, but it wasn’t written in a sad or pitying way.
Family: Family is a very important part of this book and it encompasses everything, even though both Phoebe and Robert are still suffering from their dad’s absence when they were children, and sometimes struggle to find the time to go to visit him. But I did really like how this book portrays what family means and what that can entail, be it the good, the bad or the ugly.
Sadness/loneliness: Throughout the whole book, I got the impression that the characters were very sad and very lonely despite being surrounded by their family. It was really interesting reading about this and especially the different types of sadness and loneliness every different character was feeling. It’s not a sad book, but the characters do give off “sad vibes” because of their lives and their experiences.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
I was already expecting to like this book with my first expectations, and as the book kept progressing and changing into something I was really not expecting, I was quickly engrossed, but even more so when the story changed again and became itself. I don’t know if that makes sense but I was really surprised about the whole trajectory of this book and wasn’t expecting any of it, I don’t think I could have guessed what was going to happen.
It’s not a thriller or a mystery, it’s not something sad, it’s not a whodunnit, but it is a very unique and very well executed portrayal of a family tale, what family means, what growing old means, the experiences one lives throughout their lives and what they take from life at the end. It’s definitely not the type of book that I would associate with myself, but I think I enjoyed it even more because it managed to really engross me when it wasn’t even my type of book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, I gave it 4 stars because although I did really enjoy it and can’t find anything wrong about it, it just didn’t have that 5-star spark, but that’s because it’s not my kind of book. I’m sure if you like more mundane plots and not epic fantasies like me, you’ll definitely love it and give it 5 stars. Now that I’ve experienced Deborah Moggach, I’m definitely going to keep a lookout for more, starting with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Thank you once again to Anne and Deborah for letting me take part in this tour and for sending me the book, but also for making me discover this great author. I highly recommend!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post! See you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – DEBORAH MOGGACH
Deborah Moggach, OBE is an English novelist and an award-winning screenwriter. She has written nineteen novels, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, These Foolish Things, also known as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Heartbreak Hotel, and Something to Hide. She lives in London.
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Audible UK – Kobo