Publisher: Boldwood Books
Format: Ebook, Audio, Paperback (4 August 2023)
Source: Review copy via Netgalley
The list he left had just one item on it. Or, at least, it did at first…
Mabel Beaumont’s husband Arthur loved lists. He’d leave them for her everywhere. ‘Remember: eggs, butter, sugar’. ‘I love you: today, tomorrow, always’.
But now Arthur is gone. He died: softly, gently, not making a fuss. But he’s still left her a list. This one has just one item on it though: ‘Find D’.
Mabel feels sure she knows what it means. She must track down her best friend Dot, who she hasn’t seen since the fateful day she left more than sixty years ago.
It seems impossible. She doesn’t even know if Dot’s still alive. Also, every person Mabel talks to seems to need help first, with missing husbands, daughters, parents. Mabel finds her list is just getting longer, and she’s still no closer to finding Dot.
What she doesn’t know is that her list isn’t just about finding her old friend. And that if she can admit the secrets of the past, maybe she could even find happiness again…
My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite and to the publisher for the copy to review via Netgalley. This appealed immediately and I’m delighted to share my thoughts as part of the tour.
Mabel (86) and Arthur (89) have been married for over 60 years and when Arthur dies suddenly, Mabel is left completely alone. They never had children and Mabel’s only companion is Olly, an anti-social dog who only really bonded with Arthur. When Mabel finds a note written by Arthur, simply saying ‘Find D’ she is confused but then realises that the note must refer to her best friend Dot; someone she suddenly lost touch with 60 years ago and who she has never forgotten.
This book was a joy to read and Mabel was a force to be reckoned with. The emotions she experiences after the loss of her husband are dealt with sympathetically as are her feelings about her marriage. Arthur was devoted to her and yet Mabel’s apparent discontentment came through the pages.
Mabel’s story highlights that it is never too late for friendship and the diverse supporting characters are so very different to each other in ages and background but their kindness and compassion are in no doubt. They each had their own backstory and ongoing problems but were superbly crafted and an integral part of the story. Who would have thought that a jar of piccalilli would lead to such a strong friendship bond being formed.
Arthur was always the list maker but Mabel made her own task list to accomplish. Despite her age, her judgement seemed rather questionable at times although the decisions were made with good intent and I did worry at what the outcomes would be.
I wasn’t sure about Mabel at first, she seemed rather cold and a little uncaring but with unexpected support she blossomed and emerged from her previously constricting life into one of self discovery. I loved the element of intrigue surrounding her friend Dot; as the former fiancee of Mabel’s beloved late brother Bill, she would always be in her thoughts and Mabel’s quest for news of her friend kept me hooked. Why did she disappear so suddenly?
This character driven novel is beautifully written with observations that I found thoughtful and poignant. Its background themes of loss, grief and loneliness could have made for a very different read but actually it was uplifting and hopeful with many moments of humour. I loved following Mabel’s journey and this will be a favourite read this year.
Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She lives in Leicestershire with her husband, their two children and a much-cuddled cat.
PURCHASE LINK https://mybook.to/mabelbeaumontsocial