A Terrible Kindness: The Bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club Pick

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A Terrible Kindness: The Bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club Pick

A Terrible Kindness: The Bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club Pick

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There are some special bonds like the one with his school friend Martin and his uncle Robert and his partner Howard. For those familiar or unfamiliar – this documentary I found extremely moving, very well made and also very pertinent to the novel. William is a character the reader will come to care for, while also being very involved in his life and relationships. A Terrible Kindness had caught my eye before that, reminding me of the episode of The Crown (on Netflix) that describes the terrible events surrounding the Aberfan disaster. There is no question that Jo Browning Wroe who, at age 58, has written her first novel (as a woman of a certain age, I love when that happens!

It all culminates in what I found to be a very anticlimactic-- and predictable, for that matter --scene. However, his musical career came to an abrupt and traumatic end, causing William to sever ties with his best friend Martin as well as with his mother, Evelyn and to later train as an embalmer and join Robert and Howard in the family business he has come to love.More troubling still is the use of Aberfan, which is presented as an instigating incident, but by the end of the novel has been acknowledged to be actually quite incidental. Thank you so much Tandem and Faber and most importantly, Jo, the author for allowing me to be one of the first to read this amazing book - it broke me and put me back together again all at once. Just hours after the multiple waves of black sludge engulf Aberfan’s primary school, 19-year-old William Lavery is enjoying his first proper grown-up night out. So all we’re left with, my precious son, is whether we can forgive, be forgiven, and keep trying our best. How marvellous it is when a book broadens your horizons, takes you to places you would never envisage yourself going, and provides you with an enjoyable reading experience all at the same time.

As an aside I initially felt this was an authorial misstep to withold the information about what happened in the incident from the reader when it is known to all of the book’s characters even those not there like William’s later wife Gloria (the daughter of another undertaking/embalming dynasty) – but I think this is so that we can first of all understand its consequences and judge for ourselves if it fits the incident (which while not doubt hugely mortifying should not have lead to a lifetime of damage). In 1966, a colliery spoil tip above the Welsh village of Aberfan collapsed; 116 children and 28 adults were killed when the village was buried under a wave of slurry.I remember the Aberfan Disaster as my first introduction into the bleak awfulness of fate and happenstance. As a reading experience, I felt I disengaged a little – you can get a little frustrated with William – and the story lags a little. William has the most amazing singing voice, and as a child is offered a place to be trained as a choir boy where he will board with other boys like himself. This book featured in the 2022 version of the influential annual Observer Best Debut Novelist feature (past years have included Natasha Brown, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Douglas Stuart, Sally Rooney and Gail Honeyman among many others) and was also picked out by the New Statesman (and others) as one of the most anticipated debuts of 2022.

Wroe’s prose (in the present tense) is poised and unobtrusively brilliant, I think, so that everything from the strongest emotions to the feel of Cambridge in the early 70s (and I was there, so I know) is excellently but quietly done. The way this was written had me hooked from the 1st page and just knew it was going to be a 5 star read. This is by no means a bad book and I feel I am in the minority here as a lot of people have raved about it, even named it their book of 2022!It's the Midlands Chapter of the Institute of Embalmers Ladies' Night Dinner Dance, and William is taking Gloria in her sequined evening gown. Throughout the story I regularly thought of William as a kind hearted and genuinely good boy who developed into a man with these same traits.

For William his resentment is focused on his mother due to a traumatic event which occurred in the College Chapel culmination of his Cantabrigian choral career – a solo performance of Miserere. Some episodes from his time as a chorister resulted in major upheaval and to some extent altered the course of his adult life and indirectly led to his becoming an embalmer. Even though William is only a young man when we meet him, the story goes back to when he was at school and what life was like for him growing up. His father died when he was eight and after being encouraged by his mother to develop his musical talents rather than go into the family business, he was accepted into a chorister school in Cambridge two years later. Wroe’s depiction of William is quite brilliant and utterly believable, and her evocation of his work as an embalmer is engrossing, moving – and fascinating, too.What exactly happens is only revealed towards the book’s end, but it leads to William breaking all ties with his mother to the despair even of those more directly impacted by the incident (William’s Uncle Robert and William's closest Cambridge friend Martin). I actually found the first section about Aberfan was so compelling that the rest of the book suffered somewhat by comparison - I found the next part, about William’s choir school experiences, rather slow. However, for me, the story lost itself by then skipping backwards and forwards to the main character, William's former events in his life. The opening section at Aberfan brought me to tears more than once with its delicate humanity and compassion, and I was close to tears at other times in the book, too.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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