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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However, for me, this story lost its way in the middle, the back and forth of the storyline didn't help.

I was probably in primary school myself when we were first told of this all-to-recent local history, and so I will undoubtedly have had a different experience to a lot of my reading buddies during those chapters, the site of Pantglas Junior School just 5. For the gentlest, most kindhearted person I know, you are extraordinarily good at making a pig’s ear of things. It only tells me you know the rest of your novel is not as strong as those banging opening chapters.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. Most knew of it from a mention in The Crown on Netflix, and many went off to read more about it before beginning the novel. It was, in the relatively new media age of the 1960s, one of the first tragedies to unfold directly, hour by hour, into people’s living rooms.

Lots of things do funny things to me, including choral music and in particular, you won’t be surprised to hear, the “Miserere”. I think the story needed to commit to Aberfan, or not bother as the circling back didn't work for me with very little story in the middle. The abrupt engulfing of a Welsh mining village school under a tide of liquid black filth back in the 1960s endures as a particular piece of ghastly British heritage. I've found this a very difficult book to review because there were bits I did enjoy and bits I disliked. The story of William Lavery - from chorister to embalmer, son to husband - is almost fantastical but also sincerely realistic.

This was a story strong on friendship and family - albeit ones with issues which were sometimes left to fester. The more I think about it, the more I struggle to see any reason why Aberfan needed to be part of this story. 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. In fact, William is a very talented choirist, trained at one of the best schools in Cambridge, and singled out to sing the most prestigious solo there. I would like to thank the author, publisher and NetGalley for giving me this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

After the powerful beginning, we spend the rest of the book moving between William's past at boarding school and the present where something has happened to make him estranged from his mum. Little does he know that this decision will haunt him for a long while - and cause him to question other decisions made earlier in his life. I’m estranged from my mother, I haven’t spoken to you, my best friend, since I left here, and I won’t have children. The Aberfan disaster is hauntingly made real in the descriptions of the work of kind strangers tasked with a terrible job. This, combined with a fractious relationship with his mother, impacts greatly on William’s personal life and holds him back in relationships.To be fair, I probably should have known not to venture near A Terrible Kindness given its mawkish appearance, but I was very intrigued by the mention of Aberfan.

I would recommend this book to all - although it is historical fiction I believe it would suit those who prefer a more contemporary read too.Volunteering at such a horrendous disaster changes William and Gloria's lives, but in a bad, or good way? So all we’re left with, my precious son, is whether we can forgive, be forgiven and keep trying our best.



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

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