Going Gently, by David Nobbs

Kate Thomas, nearing her hundredth birdthday, lies in hospital after suffering a stroke. Apparently unconscious and unresponsive, her mind is active and she revisits memories of her long life, including the murder of one of her husbands, which she determines to solve by mental power alone. [I realised that this is the third book I've read this year which touches on "locked-in" syndrome]

This is the second time I've read this book, but on neither occasion has it grabbed me as much as I hoped: usually when I read one of his novels I end up feeling that it was my favourite, but that didn't happen here. I'm not sure if this is because it's the only one with a female protagonist (I don't think he's so good at doing women - Elizabeth in Reggie Perrin is also a bit weak I think) or perhaps that the novel is over-ambitious: it covers nearly a hundred years of life compared to the Pratt novels, where three books cover about half this time.

The fact that so much life-story has to be covered (as well as the solving of a murder) means that I didn't feel I really knew many of the characters, and even at the end of the book I was mixed up over which son was which. And I don't think I became particularly attached to any of the people - even Kate - although I did want to.

It is a good book nevertheless, and there is care and sympathy in the descriptions, especially of Kate's family in Wales with their Welsh cakes and bara brith. I just think it should have been a trilogy.

Completed : 26-Mar-2004 (audiobook)

I released a spare copy of this with BookCrossing id : 657-1614963

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