The Nursing Home

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The Nursing Home

Last Free on: 8th Jul 18
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...Non-linear and stylishly written, this is a definite literary read, for those who like their stories character-based. Touching, sometimes sad, and grimly inevitable....

Rob is an attendant at a nursing home, hired specifically to handle patients too heavy for others to move. This is his last day in the job he loves…

My first thought, on seeing the first page of this book, was quite simply “Holy Wall of Text!” This was a little unfair, as it does have paragraphs, they just don’t appear until page two. It starts slowly, with no actual dialogue until the second chapter as it sets the scene for the nursing home, for Rob, our protagonist and care home attendant, and establishes his current predicament on what will be his last day at work. As the book goes on we see the events of the day told from various points of view and out of chronological order.

This is more a series of character studies than a traditional story, focusing on the little traditions between the carehome attendant and his charges, what goes on in the mind of someone trapped by a stroke or dementia, and the value of a little kindness. It also shows how one poorly-thought out decision can cause a tragedy.

Each chapter heading is the time of day the incidents took place, allowing the reader to assemble the timeline like a jigsaw as it goes on. The problem with one chapter is that the heading is “~10:00 a.m.” but it starts with “It was late in the evening…” I’m not sure if this is the character’s mistake or the editor’s, but it did throw me. I’d probably have re-ordered the chapters slightly, as there’s no early clue to where it is going from the first chapter, so it lacks a hook and if I wasn’t reading for a review I would probably have put it down. I don’t regret sticking with it, but at times it was a struggle.

This is not a maudlin or angsty book, and while it is sad in parts it is mainly straightforward about the progress of the situation. There is a certain sense of inevitability about it, fostered from very early on in the story where hints in the first chapter built to an insolvable problem later on. It is more challenging than the average modern read because of the structure and writing style. The author’s writing style is verbose and measured. It took me a while to get into it, and I did find myself skimming in parts. The writer this most reminds me of is Virginia Woolf and (confession time) I never got on with her work either.

Overall, The Nursing Home is not a bad book, but it simply isn’t my type of read. If you like action or adventure, this is not the book for you. People who enjoy character based stories, or non-linear storytelling (like literary readers, critics, and those who admire James Joyce) will love it.

Rating: 3
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