Troubador A Book at Bedtime

Released: 28/06/2021

ISBN: 9781800460812

eISBN: 9781800468221

Format: Paperback/eBook

Review this Book

A Book at Bedtime


On a cold December Sunday, book-seller Jack Carter struggles through the ritual of making breakfast for his wife Eva, whose dementia confines her body to her bed and her mind to a world of its own. Jack is an old man failing to cope with the modern world. He wages a constant battle with Margaret, Eva’s carer, and tries to fend off Dodie, Eva’s bossy best friend, who has decided that Jack too is losing his marbles and the time has come for the two of them to go into a home. 

Jack’s wandering mind makes frequent journeys to the past. Among the ghosts he conjures are his sexually repressed, religiously obsessed mother, and his friend and mentor, Bob Pride, whose own past is closely linked with Oscar Wilde. The gaps in Jack’s memories and day-dreams are filled by Eva, and gradually their story unfolds. It’s the love story of a couple married for nearly sixty years whose complete failure to communicate is hidden behind an apparently shared love of books. 

But there is also The Great Man, a famous local writer who chooses this day to come and call. Comical and acerbic, he pushes Jack to confront the past, until the truth finally emerges.

A Book at Bedtime is published on July 28th 2021

I really enjoyed this book, parts of it were heartbreaking but for the most parts it was really funny. It was well written with good characters and a good plot. I would definitely recommend.

Original review:

by NetGalley review

A novel that makes you stop and think about life.

Firstly, a big thank you to Matador (Troubador Publishing), for allowing me access to read and review this book. A Book At Bedtime will be released 28th July 2021.

We begin with memories that do not yet mean much. It appears to be a simple story of a husband and his wife and their journey through life, but, we are faced with many dense events that can bring emotion to the reader and an in-depth level of character development that makes you feel as if they are your relatives. There are moments of cheeky humour that hold this story together well.

An overall pleasant read that exposes some to a completely different generation.

Original review:

by NetGalley review

This book is set during different time periods, following the life of Jack Carter, the owner of a book store, that he lives above. He is doing his best to care for his wife, Eva who is in her advanced state of dementia.

As the story continues to move during the different time periods, Jack remembers incidents from his past, and we learn more about his life, and what made him the man that we are reading about. Clues to characters and the roles they’ve played in Jack’s life are peppered throughout and piecing it all together.

I found this a very pleasant read, and it is a novel that makes you think about life and the people who are going through something very similar to what Jack and Eva are going through.

Original review:

by NetGalley review

A Book at Bedtime is a great literary tale full of book references, a beautiful love story, and shocking twists. Following an elderly man caring for his ailing wife, this book is heartwarming, intelligent, and fresh, making it the perfect read for the start of the academic season.

Original review:

by NetGalley review

Set during one day in the present but also returning to the past, this delightful book covers a lot of sensitive issues. These include dementia, sexuality, infidelity, loss and a dominant religious mother. Jack and Eva’s marriage got off to a bad start and never recovered, but rightly or wrongly they stuck together with both carrying guilt. My favourite chapter was Eva’s, with the childlike speech, just showing how we go full circle. It took me a while to work out ‘The Great Man’, who I believe is Thomas Hardy, although it isn’t confirmed. This book will make you laugh and cry. Thank you to NetGalley and Matador for letting me read and review this book.

Original review:

by NetGalley review

Tenderly written and beautifully crafted. I read this slowly and thought deeply. Lives lived, deceits unfolded and compassion throughout . Beautiful.

Original review:

by NetGalley review

This is one of those quiet, but stunningly powerful books that can't help but get you emotionally involved in the lives of the characters.

This is the story of Jack and Eva, mostly told from the viewpoint of Jack as he cares for Eva who has dementia and can't speak and is bedbound. It's a look back at their lives together, interspersed with the realities of caring with a loved one with dementia and all that entails. It's heartbreaking to hear his thoughts as he just wants to be with his wife, but the carers who come in to help complicate matters with 'health and safety' issues and you really get a sense of his frustrations - at them, the illness and all that has gone on through their lives together.

This is a story where he's trying to make peace with the past as he looks back at various stages - from his childhood, when he first met Eva and to their lives together. Times have been unkind to them both and you really get a sense of that sadness. He finds solace in talking about The Great Man (Thomas Hardy, but never named!) he met, and his time working at the small bookshop where they currently live. It has become such an integral part of their life, despite the impracticality of their current situation. As he looks back, secrets of the past reveal themselves and finally get acknowledged when they didn't at the time.

My heart was breaking for Jack as he tells you his story - his life has been tough and doesn't seem to be letting up for him now in his dotage. The patience he shows for Eva is evident, but there's also that conflicting emotion in him wishing her dead as there's no dignity for her, or him, as she suffers with this illness. And having a viewpoint from Eva also allows you to see inside the world as she views it, which was really poignant and powerful. It isn't afraid to confront the important issues such as dementia, sexuality and does so in a realistic way.

An emotional and beautiful story that has plenty to make the reader both laugh and cry. Highly recommended!

Original review:

by NetGalley review

Barrie Shore

Barrie Shore spent her early career as an actor in theatre, radio and television, and was a presenter for the BBC World Service for over twenty five years. She came to writing in the 1980s, first for radio including an original drama on BBC Radio 4, and then for television, joining the script teams of Emmerdale (1986-89) and EastEnders (1989-2001). Her retelling of the Passion of Christ has been performed as street theatre by her local community every other Easter forever twenty years.

Barrie began writing A Book at Bedtime while studying for a masters degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. In the year she graduated, 2011, she was also diagnosed with macular degeneration. Her eyesight has deteriorated significantly in the last couple of years and she is no longer able to read. But she looks forward to mastering new technology so that she can continue to write.

Follow Barrie on Twitter and Instagram @barrie_shore

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