Tina Foster reviews good reads for this season
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor
This lovely heartwarming book introduces us to Milo who is nine years old and suffers from retinitis pigmentosa: his eyes are slowly failing, and he will eventually go blind. But for now, he sees the world through a pin hole and notices things other people don’t.
Milo lives with his mum, Sandy who is struggling to cope as a single mother after her husband ran off to Saudi with his “tart”.
As the book opens his great grandmother Lou, who has not spoken for many years, lives with them but she is 92 and slowly slipping into dementia. Milo tries to be her carer, but it is too much for him and she is moved to a home.
The boy with his quaint perception realises that all is not right at the nursing home,
With its sinister Nurse Thornhill in charge. The grown-ups won’t listen when he tries to tell them something’s wrong so with just Tripi, the nursing home’s cook, and Hamlet, his pet pig, to help, Milo sets out on a mission to expose the nursing home and the ill treatment of his beloved Gran and other residents.
Most of the book is narrated by Milo and we see the world through his tunnel vision but the odd chapters are given over to Lou the grandmother, Tripi the illegal immigrant fleeing from war torn Syria, and Sandy, Milo’s mum.
This multi-narrative trick gives a breadth to the book that highlights the lack to peripheral vision of little Milo.
Through other eyes we have an understanding of many topical social issues: the plights of Syrian refugees, the dilemma of dementia care and the struggle of poverty restricted single parenthood.
This is so cleverly done that the book is a delight and deserves to be read by all ages. It may help us to understand modern social problems through other significant eyes.
I felt inspired, saddened and confused all together but more fulfilled by seeing what Milo saw. Thank you Virginia Macgregor for this experience.
The book was published by Little Brown Book Group on 13th August in paperback RRP £7.99
Moving by Jenny Eclair
Edwina Spinner has lived in the same house for over fifty years. It used to be a busy, crowded family home, but now Edwina lives alone and it has grown too big for her. She has decided to sell it.
The young estate agent who comes to value the house sees potential. Knock down a few walls, add a wet room. ‘People like a project.’ But as Edwina takes him from room to room, she is transported back to her old life as a young mother. Back to her first husband Ollie and their twins, James and Rowena. Back to lies and dark secrets and to a stepson whose name Edwina cannot even bear to speak aloud.
As Edwina’s story unravels she is revealed as a complex and intriguing person. Not just the ‘frail old lady’ trapped in her dated house, but a woman who has lived an extraordinary life, full of love and tragedy. Why is she now so alone? What happened to Edwina’s family all those years ago?
Moving is Jenny Eclair’s fourth novel – reveals a writer at the height of her powers. Gripping, heart-breaking and laced with black humour, it is a novel of family secrets, shocking betrayals and most of all, of home.
Published in July in paperback by Sphere books RRP is £13.99