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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When a book makes me cry within the first chapter… it just… gahh… I don’t think I will be able to properly convey just how stunning A Terrible Kindness is. It only tells me you know the rest of your novel is not as strong as those banging opening chapters. When it circled back to Aberfan at the end, it didn’t have the same emotional resonance for me as at the beginning of the story.

The first part deals with the scenes straight after the event, and we see William, the main character, embalming some of the children who died (horribly). Exactly what his father had wanted for him was never stated before his premature death when William was just eight. I enjoyed the parts of this book that are set in Cambridge as much as I enjoyed the parts based around the mining disaster in Aberfan. The author’s interest in undertakers first came from her childhood where she lives in a crematorium (her father was a supervisor) and learnt to admire their respectful professionalism. Overall, I’m glad I read A Terrible Kindness and hope Jo Browning Wroe has another book in the pipeline.William also has a horror of having children – which he ascribes to his experiences at Aberfan which leads to an eventual breach with Gloria – at around the point he rediscovers the friendship of Martin. It all culminates in what I found to be a very anticlimactic-- and predictable, for that matter --scene.

For the gentlest, most kindhearted person I know, you are extraordinarily good at making a pig’s ear of things. 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. However this book isn’t just about that tragedy, huge parts of it focus on William’s earlier life as a chorister, which I found incredibly fascinating. His father died when he was eight and after being encouraged by his mother to develop his musical talents rather than go into the family business, he was accepted into a chorister school in Cambridge two years later. Jo Browning Wroe’s remarkable novel based on that awful Welsh morning is a tender yet brutal remembrance on which a young romance somehow flowers.

In 1966, a colliery spoil tip above the Welsh village of Aberfan collapsed; 116 children and 28 adults were killed when the village was buried under a wave of slurry. Time to clamp his defences back down before the flotsam and jetsam of his own life is washed up by the tidal wave of Aberfan’s grief; his father’s death, the abrupt end to his chorister days, the rift with his mother, with Martin. Instead of moving on from these lapses he severely punished himself (with flow on effects for others). Her book is steeped in a historical event: in the mid-60s, the Welsh Village of Aberfan suffered a landslide at a coal mine, killing 116 children and 28 adults. I loved following William through his life as a chorister, an embalmer and ultimately a very sad and traumatised man who spent his life trying to do what’s best while being pulled in different directions.



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  • EAN: 764486781913
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