Tuesday, 2 October 2018

All Things Consoled: A Daughter's Memoir

Author: Elizabeth Hay
Genre: Memoir, Canadian
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 260
Source: Publisher
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart (Random House Canada)

First Published: September 18, 2018
First Line: "Their lives came tumbling down during that Indian summer in 2008 when Obama won for the first time and the world seemed bright with second chances".

Book Description from GoodReadsElizabeth Hay, one of Canada's most beloved novelists has written a poignant, complex, and hugely resonant memoir about the shift she experienced between being her parents' daughter to their guardian and caregiver.

As the daughter takes charge, and the writer takes notes, her mother and father are like two legendary icebergs floating south. They melt into the ocean of partial, painful, inconsistent, and funny stories that a family makes over time. Hay's eloquent memoir distills these stories into basic truths about parents and children and their efforts of understanding.

With her uncommon sharpness and wit, Elizabeth Hay offers her insights into the peculiarities of her family's dynamics--her parents' marriage, sibling rivalries, miscommunications that spur decades of resentment all matched by true and genuine love and devotion. Her parents are each startling characters in their own right--her mother is a true skinflint who would rather serve up wormy soup (twice) than throw away an ancient packet of "perfectly good" mix; her father is a proud and well-mannered man with a temper that can be explosive.

When Icebergs Melt is a startlingly beautiful memoir that addresses the exquisite agony of family, the unstoppable force of dementia, and the inevitability of aging.

My Rating: 3.5 stars (a good read)

This was the first time I had read a book by Canadian author Elizabeth Hay. In All Things Consoled, she writes about her complicated relationship with her parents growing up as well as the changing dynamic between herself and her parents as they aged. 

Hay's writing is frank, especially when she discusses her turbulent childhood and the complicated relationship she had with her parents. Through the ups and downs, her love for her parents is the focus of the book and there are some emotional scenes. There were some issues which were hard to read, and others were emotional so readers who can relate to dealing with aging parents may want to keep the Kleenex handy. 

I couldn't relate as much to Hay's experiences and that may have influenced my feelings for the book. The vast majority of reviewers have raved about this book and while I feel odd rating someone's life experiences, I didn't feel as connected to the book as I had hoped.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher for my complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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