“Frank Derrick is eighty-one. And he’s just been run over by a milk float.
It was tough enough to fill the hours of the day when he was active. But now he’s broken his arm and fractured his foot, it looks set to be a very long few weeks ahead. Frank lives with his cat Bill (which made more sense before Ben died) in the typically British town of Fullwind-on-Sea. He watches DVDs, spends his money frivolously at the local charity shop and desperately tries to avoid cold callers continually knocking on his door.
Then a breath of fresh air comes into his life in the form of Kelly Christmas, home help. With her little blue car and appalling parking, her cheerful resilience and ability to laugh at his jokes, Kelly changes Frank’s extra ordinary life. She reminds him that there is a world beyond the four walls of his flat and that adventures, however small, come to people of all ages.
Frank and Kelly’s story is sad and funny, moving, familiar, uplifting. It is a small and perfect look at a life neither remarkable nor disastrous, but completely extraordinary nonetheless. For fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry this is a quirky, life-affirming story that has enormous appeal. And it’s guaranteed to make you laugh.”
4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Frank Derrick lives a rather uneventful life, spending his days buying things he doesn’t need from the local charity shop, watching films, talking to his cat, which admittedly is a one-sided conversation and generally counting down the hours until its time to go to bed. Then on his 81st birthday he’s run over by a milk float. As a result of being incapacitated his daughter Beth, who lives in the US organises for a carer to visit. And in walks Kelly Christmas.
Frank initially has all intention of being obstinate and awkward. He goes on a dirty process for a few days before his carer is first due. Then he sees Kelly climb out of her badly parked car and immediately regrets it. He begins to look forward to Kelly’s weekly visits, and takes drastic action when he realises those visits are to soon end.
I wasn’t expecting a copy of this book so when it arrived through the post I was pleasantly surprised. I found this to be an enjoyable, funny and moving read.
Before he meets Kelly, Frank accepts his life as it is. He’s aware of his loneliness and boredom but it’s not something he really dwells on, it’s almost like it’s pushed to the back of his mind. Then he meets Kelly and is suddenly all too aware of his age and the state of his life. He has one friend, Smelly John, whom he visits. He misses his daughter who hasn’t visited for some time. He finds that the hours are longer and harder to fill. And he finds himself looking forward to Kelly’s visits more and more.
Frank finds himself dressing to impress Kelly, almost falling a little in love with her, but mainly falling for the fact she makes his life exciting, even if it is for just one hour per week. She unwittingly helps him address issues he wasn’t aware he had, issues surrounding his experiences in World War II and surrounding the death of his wife.
There are some sad and almost tragic scenes in the book. The lengths Frank feels he has to go to raise the money to pay for Kelly’s visits are particular occurrences that spring to mind.
J.B. Morrison addresses issues we all have, the fear of getting old, the loneliness and boredom we may face, and the fear that we will be forgotten before we are even gone.
This is a story that can resonate no matter what your age. We can all feel younger, or older, than we are. We are all lonely and sad at some stage and we can all spend time wishing our life away. If anything, this story can show us that it’s never too late to appreciate what we have, acknowledge that what we no longer have, or ever will, and to enjoy life as much as possible as we don’t know how long we have. And that there’s nothing wrong with living and extra ordinary life.
A funny, moving read, sad in parts, but entertaining nonetheless.
I was lucky enough to receive a second copy of The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Aged 81 so I’m giving that copy away today. I’ll be tweeting the giveaway details but for a chance to win please leave a comment on this review. Giveaway closes 6 June 2014 at 9pm and the winner will be announced on 9 June 2014.