30 Jul Here and Now By Santa Montefiore
A surprisingly uplifting account of a family facing the challenges of dementia
Sixty-six year old Marigold Fane and her husband Dennis lead an idyllic life in their close-knit village community, where Marigold is the local postmistress. Mum Nan, an active 86-year-old, lives with them. They might wish their daughter Suze was more settled in a career, and they’re concerned at the break-up of elder daughter Daisy’s long-term relationship with her Italian boyfriend, but they’re happy to have her back home, and very proud of both their daughters.
But concerns start to creep in when Marigold begins to forget things. She leaves her handbag in the church pew. She forgets to post customers’ parcels. She points painter Daisy in the direction of an artshop that has been shut down for over twenty years …
At first Marigold tries to hide her memory lapses from friends, neighbours and family. Maybe she just needs to do some Sudoku puzzles? Perhaps a holiday will help? But as it becomes clear that her forgetfulness is down to more than “just her age”, it’s time for them to face the truth and rally round to help her. They can’t stop her decline – but can they help her live in the here and now, and preserve her golden memories for as long as possible?
What a wonderfully warm, uplifting read! Author Santa Montefiore doesn’t shirk from the realities of the fear and helplessness that the gradual onset of dementia brings, but never does she lose sight of the fact that a person is more than her condition.
Kind, happy, warm-hearted Marigold captured my heart from the outset – no-one could help from loving her. Her family are equally engaging – none of them perfect (except perhaps the delightful Dennis) but all strong and resourceful in their own way. Acerbic-tongued Nan struggles most to accept her daughter’s condition, but is always supportive and dizzy Suze rises to the challenge. But it’s Daisy, perhaps, who is affected most. With Luca in the past, and her mother’s needs filling the present and future, it seems her dreams of marriage and a family are in tatters. Her determination to put family responsibility first is admirable.
There’s so much to enjoy in this book beside the immediate story. Marigold’s memories may be fading, but village life goes on in a series of often-funny cameos involving nonagenarian gossips, retired commodores, camp cat owners and the arrival of local squire Taran from Canada. He’s intrigued by Daisy … but she suspects he may want to develop the land around the village, interfering with her mother’s happiness. As the seasons turn, we see how much balm the beauty of nature offers Marigold, never happier than when she is walking the hills or feeding her beloved birds. Surely this won’t be taken from her, too?
Multi-stranded with atmospheric descriptions and great characters, the enduring message of this story is that love is all that matters: love of family – those still here and those who have passed on – love of friends and love of life in all its imperfections.
As Marigold learns to live in the now, we are privileged to share her journey, and her precious memories. She may forget, but we’ll never forget her.
Though no-one, least of all the author, would try to deny dementia is a terrible condition, ultimately I found this story hopeful and happy, and I’m so glad to have met Marigold.
Here and Now is published by Simon & Schuster in paperback on April 15, RRP £8.99. Also available as an ebook.
About the author
Santa Montefiore writes warm, engaging contemporary novels. Visit her website santamontefiore.co.uk to sign up to her newsletter and follow her on Twitter @santamontefiore, on Instagram @santamontefioreofficial and on Facebook @SantaMontefioreBooks