This Much is True by Jane Sanderson
Published by Orion Books
But as the family gathers to see out his final days, Vince utters a single word that will change everyone's lives completely:
Who is Martha? And why is Annie so quick to dismiss the mention of her name? As Annie's long-held secrets start to emerge, the lives of everyone she holds dear will be changed forever...
This is the latest novel written by Jane Sanderson and takes on a different slant from her earlier, historical novels. This is part memoir, part mystery and features Annie a 73 year old woman, living with her eldest son Michael and dog Finn in Coventry. Her husband Vince is in a nursing home having been there for decades following his diagnosis with dementia. We soon learn that her marriage has not been a happy one and that Vince only married Annie because he thought he would get a substantial allowance from her husband, his then boss. When this fails to materialise, Vince decides to work away from home, only returning to his wife and child when absolutely necessary. It is on one of these visits that Vince arrives home with a gift for Annie that will ultimately change all of their lives forever, and it is because of this, that Annie has a secret she has been forced to hide for most of her adult life.
On a routine walk with her friends Josie and Sandra, Finn attacks a local farmer's sheep and Annie is forced to make some difficult decisions surrounding his well-being. She meets Mr Dinmore ("call me Alf"), a friend of Josie's and he introduces her to his sister who rescues dogs. As she learns more about Alf she discovers that he is a former policeman and this brings to the forefront of her mind the secret that she has been hiding for so long.
With Vince on his deathbed at last, younger son Andrew returns home from Australia and it is the mention of the name "Martha" by Vince that starts everything unravelling. A box discovered in the attic by Andrew only proceeds to make everything worse. What should Annie do?
This is a book about families and the secrets that some of them hide because they ultimately believe this to be for the best. There are also some interesting characters in the book. Michael is not a pleasant person, towards the end of the book it is explained why this might be, but that is not why this made me dislike him so much, though by the end he does seem to redeem himself somewhat. He is the polar-opposite of his brother Andrew, who I must admit comes across as quite smug at times with his magnificent life in Byron Bay. Vince is a not a nice man throughout and I felt no sympathy for him during the course of the book. I did like Josie though her friendship with Annie seems somewhat unexpected but she was a nice addition to the story and it was interesting to have an older central character who as the book progresses, begins to live more in her later years than she has done during the preceding decades.
Miss Chapters x