I am thrilled to be sharing my review of Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler with you today.
My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and to Picador for sending me a copy of the book in return for my honest review.
Before I share my review with you, here is what Jack & Bet is about.
~ Publisher’s Description ~
Even the longest marriages have their secrets . . .
Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.
All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.
When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.
Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.
~ My thoughts ~
I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from Jack & Bet but I didn’t anticipate it being so emotional. I feel like I should have realised it could be with two 90 year olds as the main characters but this one caught me. I really enjoyed it though.
Jack and Bet Chalmers are celebrating 70 years together. Their son, Tommy, wants them to move into a home but they want to stay in their flat in Elephant & Castle, London. When they meet Marinella, a student from Romania, Bet thinks they have found the perfect solution. However, for Bet, this means unearthing a secret that has long been buried.
The story is told from 3 points of view: Jack, Bet and Marinella. I liked how this gave the perspective of the past and the future. For a shorter novel, 256 pages, the depth of detail into each character’s story is impressive. It would have been good to have had some of the story from Tommy’s point of view though as I found it hard to warm to him.
Sarah Butler explores many themes in Jack & Bet including: long-term marriages, past lives, how we don’t always communicate with those we love when we have been with them for a long time, jealousy, society’s view of old people, how old people view the world, grief, loss, love, role reversal between parents and children, the relationship that we have with properties. The later one is an interesting one. Jack and Bet moved into their current flat after the block of flats they were in previously is being knocked down. They haven’t really settled into the new one, even though they have been there for a few years. Their old flat holds so many memories for them and both Jack and Bet are naturally reflective about it.
Jack & Bet is a heartwarming story with kindness at it’s core and I am glad that I got a chance to read it.
~ Where to find Jack & Bet ~
~ About Sarah Butler ~
Sarah Butler is the acclaimed author of two previous novels, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and Before the Fire. Her writing has been translated into fourteen languages. She is also the author of a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation. Sarah is a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and lives in Manchester with her family.
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