Book Review: The Language of Dying – Sarah Pinborough


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Release Date: December 2013
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Pages: 144.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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A harrowingly beautiful read about the death of a loved one.

A young woman sits and watches as her father lives out the last few hours of his life. As she watches her father slip away, she is left alone with her thoughts and memories of the past, as they all come flooding back to her.

“I think about that lost dignity you must be feeling and I want to tell you it doesn’t matter. Not in the great scheme of things. This is just the end. It isn’t the everything of you. And it’s the everything we’ll remember when the memory of this fades.”

This book may be a quick read in terms of page numbers, but in terms of plot it is the opposite. I am a big fan of Sarah Pinborough, I love her Fairytale Kingdom series so when I heard about this I immediately picked it up, thinking it might be something similar. I could not have been more wrong. This isn’t really a fantasy book. It is centred on the harsh realities of death. The young woman tells her story as if she is addressing her dying father, saying all the things she cannot say out loud. She deals with watching him decline, with caring for him, with having to gather her family for his last days.

It is an incredibly emotional and powerful book. Something that really struck me about is that although it’s only 150 odd pages, Pinborough manages to pack a whole lot in, there is an intense about of characterisation, and a lot goes on in such a short number of paces. It doesn’t feel crammed in though, it flows well and altogether makes up a really special story. It has won awards for best novella, and as you can see it has one of the most beautiful book covers I have ever seen. I wish all covers were as beautiful as this one.

The book is written in a very realistic way, all the characters are written in very clear and distinct ways – all the siblings are very vivid and real. If you have ever experienced death of a loved one, this is an extremely important novel to read. I also think if you’ve never read any of Sarah Pinborough’s writing before, this is an excellent first choice. It’s hard hitting, but it will blow you away.

Looking for something similar? Try: What Lot’s Wife Saw or The Unquiet House.

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