Author: Fiona McFarlane
Published: 2013 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Read: December 2013
Categories: Fiction, contemporary, Australian authors
Why it made it to the top of the pile: I was interested in this book when it was released in August 2013, and was prompted again by its appearance in quite a few 'best-of-2013' lists
Trivia Tidbit: McFarlane is quoted in the SMH regarding this book: "Both my grandmothers suffered from dementia and I wanted to write respectfully and unsentimentally about this."
Full Disclosure: Purchased
The Night Guest is told from Ruth's perspective, and the telling becomes slightly muddled as Ruth's confidence in her recollections erodes. Throughout the story there is an undercurrent of unease, and as a reader I wanted to call to Ruth through the fog of her recollection to beware. Her story meanders and is beautifully told. There are sentences that demand to be re-read and admired, such as: "…there was another sensation, a new one, to which she attended with greater care: a sense of extravagant consequence" and "It was like night-time in their wide, hot house beside the hospital, where the moths knocked up against the windows and gardens dripped in the dark."
This is a wonderful book which plays with the unreliability and whimsical nature of memory, touches on the vulnerability of the elderly, and reminds the reader of the need for compassion and empathy. It is a stunning debut from a talented author - McFarlane has done her grandmothers proud.