Nestled among cherry trees in a picturesque country garden, the Gingerbread House resembles an illustration from an old-world storybook. But beware! For in the fairy-tale, that s where the witch lives…
Away from the city, with no distractions, the Gingerbread House seems like the perfect place to start work on a novel. That’s what former advertising copywriter Tess thinks when she goes there to live with Eleanor, her aged mother-in-law. But Eleanor is suffering from dementia, and caring for her proves tougher than Tess could ever have imagined: feeling increasingly isolated, her only comfort is wine o’clock and weekend visits from her husband. Meanwhile her teenage daughter Katia is helpless to intercede; in the end she can only watch as things fall apart and a tragedy even closer to home surfaces.
This book is beautiful, moving and one I definitely won’t forget anytime soon. I read The Gingerbread House in just a few sittings, it’s such a gripping piece of writing that I kept going back to it and reading much longer than I’d planned. It would be possible to look at the title and thing this book might be a kind of light, fun read but instead it is poignant, and heart-breaking.
The book is writing in a really interesting way, the style feels very personal, which for me made it all the more heart-wrenching. The Gingerbread house is in some ways a difficult book to read, but I also think it’s a really important one. Of all the books I’ve read, I’m not sure I can recall a single book that focuses on dementia, and the hard work and difficulties it places on the family of the person. It was really interesting to read a book with this as its focal topic, and I definitely recommend everyone read it.
The other thing I really loved about The Gingerbread house was the humour. It is painful to read, but there’s also an element of dark humour that runs the whole way though, and makes for such a fascinating narrative. Similarly the characters feel very honest and well-written. They’re all very life like and human – finding their own ways to deal with such a difficult thing like dementia.
The Gingerbread House is a very touching book. It’s charming and heart breaking at the same time and I think it’s rare you find a book that can be both things at once. If you’re looking for a quick read – but one that will really make you think – then this is definitely the book for you. I must also point out how lovely the cover is!