I read As You Were by Elaine Feeney last May, just as summer began. Time has passed but this book’s power remains with me. There is so much realism at play in this text that the tragedy underlying the plot doesn’t make the reader convulse into tears repeatedly as you think it might it should.
When you are at the bedside of a very ill person, you don’t spend all of your time crying. You still need to make money, brush teeth, organise your life. I can imagine for a terminally ill person, this is the same. Minutiae occurs. I do not claim to understand the thoughts that must go through your head facing your own mortality, but from the outside I can definitely speak truthfully. Life goes on all around, regardless of whether someone’s world is crumbling or not. Banality is what life is made of.
The protagonist in the novel tries to protect loved ones from her sick bed, even down to controlling her family’s knowledge of the extent of her illness. She is not a martyr figure, she is imperfect. You may not even like her but I defy you not to respect her. The other people in her ward are an eclectic mix of personalities and lifestyles that only extreme life circumstances bring together. There are wonderful characters depicted here, particularly a strong maternal figure (Margaret Rose Sherlock) who manages to run her entire homelife from her hospital bed with the aid of a rose-gold Nokia.
This novel has a beauty of all its own making. The universal theme of life and death from a wry viewpoint, without frills and soap opera makes an excellent book.
Today, I would encourage anyone reading to create their own #OneBookOnePost too!