24 June 2021
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
When Xanthi Barker's father died when she was in her mid twenties, she could make no sense of her grief for a man who had been absent for most of her life. Her father, poet Sebastian Barker, had left Xanthi, her mother and her brother to pursue writing and a new relationship, when Xanthi was a baby. Growing up she had always struggled to reconcile his extravagant affection - a rocking horse crafted from scavenged wood, the endless stream of poems and drawings and letters, conversations that spiralled from the structure of starlight to philosophy to Bruce Springsteen - with the fact that he could not be depended upon for more everyday things. Though theirs was a relationship defined by departures, he always returned, so why should this farewell be any different, or more final?
Will This House Last Forever? is a heartfelt and wholly original memoir about the pain of having to come to terms with a parent's mortality, the way grief so utterly defies logic, and about learning to see the flaws in those that we love, and let them go.
📖 My thoughts..
In this expressive memoir, Xanthi Barker explores her thoughts and feelings after the death of her father, Sebastian Barker, in 2014. That her poet father was such an important figure in her life is obvious and though she never doubted his love for her there's also a sense of disappointment as by her own admission he was something of an absent father.
From the beginning of the book, Xanthi is filled with a longing for father not to be dead and yet it is very much about the effect that his death has had on her, not only in coming to terms with the complexity of the grieving process, but also in the rawness and immediacy of her loss.
Will this House Last Forever? is a very personal account of the author's search for meaning, her yearning to understand more about the complex nature of her relationship with her father, and of her devastation when he was no longer present in her life.
I found Will This House Last Forever? to be a poignant, and very honest look at a complex father-daughter relationship especially when that relationship has been flawed by disappointments and indifference. However, for all its strong message that loss endures, by the end of the book, there is also a sense of love, and the life-affirming hope that Xanthi's future, without her father, and regardless of his faults and failings, is undeniably intact.
About the Author
Xanthi Barker was born in London where she lives, and works in education. Her stories have been published in magazines including Litro and Mslexia, have been performed at Liar’s League, and have been shortlisted for the Fish Prize. She won the 2017 The Short Story Prize and her piece ‘Paradoxical’ was highly commended in the 2018 Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. Her novelette One Thing was published by Open Pen.
Twitter @xanthibarker #WillThisHouse