Thursday 14 February 2019

Review ~ The Smallest Things : On the Enduring Power of Family by Nick Duerden

 πŸ’–πŸ’– Happy Publication Day πŸ’–πŸ’–

14 February 2019

My thanks to the publishers and to Alison Menzies PR for my copy of this book
and the kind permission to share this extract from the book.

Nick Duerden’s grandparents were always just . . . there. A mysterious yet unchanging presence, a source of dutiful visits, birthday cards and carefully preserved rituals: lunches, dinners and endless card games.

But, as he enters midlife, and his 98-year-old grandmother enters a care home, he realises that, like so many of us, he should perhaps have paid more attention to her true worth years before.

As Nick goes in search of the secrets his late mother took to the grave, he finds it can be the smallest things that keep us together when so much is left unspoken. This is a memoir of the tiny dramas that fill all our lives, and a celebration of the special ties that can bind two intimately connected strangers. Tender and poignant, it captures the richness, and also the complexity, of family life.


How to remember us

Before you go, I want to give you something to remember us by. It’s clear to me you need some clothes, because why else would you have worn the same pair of jeans all week, with the rips at the knees? You really should have let me fix them for you. It wouldn’t have been any trouble. Anyway, your grandfather has many trousers here, and he doesn’t wear most of them. Look at these ones. Corduroys! And brown is always fashionable. No matter if they are too long and too wide, I can take them up, and in. Try them on, let me see you in them.

For consecutive birthdays, we will buy you a wallet made from real Italian leather. You may well let them pile up in a drawer at home, each unused and still in their presentation boxes, but eventually you will use every one of them. Life is long. You will always need to keep your money somewhere.

Here, take these cups. They are made from china. For coffee. Every time you have your morning espresso, think of us. No, no. I will wrap them up so they won’t break in your luggage. You can have the saucers, too. Do you have spoons in London?

For your wife, this scarf. A coat, perhaps? The collar is real fur. Or these lace doilies, beautiful for decoration. This umbrella? For the plane, some sandwiches. Four, so you won’t go hungry. Ham, cheese, tomatoes. And for the fridge at home: tortellini, ravioli. Gnocchi. Do you know gnocchi? You do? Some sweets for the plane, so your ears won’t pop.

Take the sweets. Remember us, yes? Don’t forget.

My Thoughts..

Love comes in many guises and on ♡Valentine's Day♡ it is all too easy to focus on the romantic love between couples but as this lovely book reminds us, love is all around us, and it's often the smallest things which make all the difference.

In this memoir of tiny dramas the author focuses on the strength of family, of the need to belong, and of the values instilled into us by our relationships with our significant others, and not just in a romantic way but also in a familial way. And by using the example of his grand-parents, the author takes us through the recollections he has of staying with them, and how these visits affected his upbringing and yet, what really shines throughout the book is the the love he had for his grandparents, and of the gradual realisation that they wouldn't be around forever.

This is a beautifully written memoir, which struck quite a few chords with me as my own mother is  97 and in a nursing home. Some days she doesn't know who I am or of my association with her and  this really hurts as I feel like I have lost the person she once was, and yet, there are still lovely moments when she surprises me and I can see that beneath the mask of dementia, she loves and remembers who I am and what I mean to her.

We take for granted those who mean the most to us and yet as this book so beautifully describes they really do 'hold the keys to who we really are'...

Nick lives in London with his Spanish wife and children. History is repeating itself as his two daughters have a Spanish grandmother. He is an experienced broadcaster appearing on national TV and radio, and writes regularly for the national press.

Twitter @Nick_Duerden



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