A woman sits beside her father’s bedside as the night ticks away the final hours of his life. As she watches over her father, she relives the past week and the events that brought the family together . . . and she recalls all the weeks before that served to pull it apart.
So I was lucky enough to attend the launch for “The Language of Dying” the other evening – I met a lot of lovely people, including Sarah herself, who is just as wonderfully lovely and funny in real life as she is on social media, and the beautifully mad but insanely talented writer Will Carver who you can see interviewing Sarah in the picture above. After a highly entertaining evening, I started reading the novella on the train home – then read on into the early hours, now I find myself with a Mission Impossible..HOW do I put into words the sheer emotion and heart that is in every part of this story – or how it made me feel. Don’t worry – this post will not self destruct, however I have had to take the weekend to try and make some sense of what I want to say.
There are probably two parts to this review. The personal and the professional if you like. Lets start with the personal because really, thats how I read. Every book gives me something – whether it be fantasy or crime or science fiction. Whether its a bit of time in another world, or a heart stopping rollercoaster thrill ride, every book I read adds a piece to me…no book left behind. Then occasionally,VERY occasionally, one comes along that touches my heart and soul in a way that is almost indescribable. Those books are few and far between and “The Language of Dying” is one of them.
At the launch, Sarah told us some of the background to her story – I knew at that point that this book was probably going to open up some old wounds, my experiences being strangely similar except, of course, very different in the way that loss is different for everyone. Still, as I read I was transported back to a time in my life that still often haunts me in those darker hours.
When I was a teenager I lost my Father – who at the time was the one person in my life who I felt really understood me. It wasnt quick – he suffered a second stroke and over the course of many weeks he just faded away. I can’t say much more about it, it is still not something I talk about often – but so much of what Sarah has put into this novella mirrors my own senses and emotions from that time. She has captured here those things that at the time I was unable to clarify – how all your senses open up while you are waiting for the inevitable, how the sounds and smells of the room can overwhelm you at the time and also take you back to that moment months, years, even decades later. The Language of Dying is not just made up of words, it is a language of sense and feeling. This was cathartic for me – yes I cried a million tears again but they were good tears. And the memories that came back to me were not just of those final weeks but of all the weeks, months and years that came before that, the precious memories, the ones you hold in your heart. Flashes of time spent with someone you loved who also loved you. See, now I’m crying again writing this review…So enough of that lets move on, but before I do. Thank you Sarah.
From a professional point of view there is not an awful lot I can say. If you have read any of her previous novels you will already know that Sarah Pinborough is a terrific weaver of words and magic on the page and this is no different in that respect. She has put her own twist on the tale as usual, there is a dark and magical side to the story that I will let you discover for yourselves – because of course you are all going to read this now right? The sheer power of the descriptive prose that brings the entire family and their relationships into focus is superbly done, clever and evocative writing that takes you right to the heart of the matter and keeps you there until you are through. I am absolutely in love with this one – it will stay with me forever.
I really cannot recommend this highly enough. If you have ever suffered loss this will speak to you in ways I can’t describe even though I have made my best effort above. Even if you have not, this is fantastic storytelling – one of those you wish you could just make everyone read. Just because. Short but bittersweet, it is a timeless tale…age will not diminish its power.
If you would like to get a copy for yourself clickety click here – if you are a lover of physical books this one is stunning. I mean just look at that cover! Happy Reading Folks.