The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough – review

Published by Jo Fletcher Books

Publication date – 1 December 2016

Source – review copy

isbn9781786480927-detail

“Tonight is a special terrible night.

A woman sits at her father’s bedside, watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters – all broken, their bonds fragile – have been there for the past week, but now she is alone.

And that’s when it always comes.

The clock ticks, the darkness beckons.

If it comes at all.

This is a short yet powerful novella that follows a woman as she sits by her dying father. As she narratives his final days we find out more about the man and his family, how each of his children have deal with their grief and how death can both unite and divide them.

There is a skill to writing a good novella. The prose has to be fluid yet tightly held together, providing a myriad of information in a succinct but entertaining way. This is such a novella. The unnamed narrator guides us through parts of her life, filling the pages with details of her dysfunctional and broken family history, introducing us to siblings and giving a glimpse into the life of the man that lays close to death upstairs.

It is hard to provide a lengthy review for such a short novella for fear of revealing too much and spoiling the story. That said, every reader will take away something different from the book. It may be for some that the book resonates too close to experiences they have been through, though that may provide comfort to others. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and that is what this book discusses.

This book is an essay on grief, on how we can grieve for something that has not yet gone, that we can mourn the loss of an idea, a feeling, a certainty just as much as the loss of a person. Although written from one person’s view this book can resonate with anyone, for grief is a universal emotion, though it may manifest itself in a myriad of ways, the underlying feelings are expertly expressed in The Language of Dying.

Whilst not an easy read this is a moving, thought-provoking look into loss.

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