Published By: Michael Joseph
Released On: 09/06/2022
Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days. But she insists she isn’t alone.
She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.
But something’s about to change.
First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life, followed by an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years, and suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.
Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door.
Thanks to NetGalley and Michael Joseph for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
I’ve never read a fictional book that handled trauma and mental illness as well as this one. It is so beautiful and sensitively conceived and executed, it made me quite emotional.
My go-to book length is no more than 300 pages, so at 400, I had my doubts. But this absolutely flew by. It sucks you in and holds you close that you can’t put it down. Everything had to go on hold – work, housework, cooking – until I’d finished it. I have since told everyone I know that, without fail, they must buy it when it comes out. I may even buy myself a physical copy of it, as gorgeous as the Kindle version was, I think it’s a book I need to physically hold in my hand.
It goes without saying there’s some difficult topics in this book; sexual abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, mental illness, divorce, domestic violence, death, agraphobia, abandonment, miscarriage. And whilst they are there for entertainment purposes – it’s a book at the end of the day, it’s meant to be entertaining – they’re not over the top or made to be gratuitous. They’re there because unfortunately that’s the reality for some people.
Meredith is a gorgeous character. She’s isolated and alone, but she’s got such a huge heart. Once she’s read to open up, she’ll hold you in an embrace that neither of you want to break. She’s possibly one of the greatest written characters I’ve read.
The collection of secondary characters – her sister Fe, her mum, her aunties, her best friend, her neighbour, her support network – are all beautifully created and reflect Meredith perfectly. No matter how big or small their part in this, they have such an impact on her life and wellbeing and future.
It’s such an accomplished piece of writing; the character exploration, the emotions, the sadness and the happiness, the optimism and the hope, it’s all just so good. I haven’t come across Claire’s writing before but I will definitely seek it out in the future. Every so often you come across an author whose work was missing from your life, and she is definitely one of them