|Wow, this cover is TERRIBLE. |
I'm not going to spend too much time on this post, because to be perfectly honest, I don't think anyone will read it -- it's about a book from the 1970s that no one has heard of, by an author that hardly anyone reads anymore (despite her famous name) and it has one of the WORST COVERS OF ALL TIME. Seriously, who looked at that cover and thought, "This book will sell!" Did her editors secretly hate her? It is a mystery.
Anyway. I'm sure that I would never have picked up this book in a store, but this copy somehow ended up with the donations at my library about ten years ago. As I was sorting through them I recognized Monica Dickens' name, and kept it aside for myself (these were books donated for the Friends of the Library sale, and employees got first crack at them. All books were $1 and I did pay for this). There was another Monica Dickens as well called One of the Family, whose plot I have instantly forgotten.
I finally got around to reading this last week -- I added it to my TBR Pile Challenge list so that I would be inspired to read it. As it is just over 200 pages long and I'm way behind on my reading quota for the year, I thought I'd give it a try.
Published in 1974, Last Year When I Was Young is the story of Richard, a twentysomething private nurse who is working at the home of an elderly man who is fading fast. The family are all pretty awful except for a granddaughter named Fanny who turns up from Australia, where she'd been on an assignment for the BBC. Richard had a past love that ended tragically several years before and I knew instantly that Fanny was the new love interest. I predicted that the elderly client would pass away and leave all his money to Fanny, and she and Richard would end up together. I was wrong.
|This cover is not much better|
I expected the whole story to be about this particular assignment for Richard, but it ends rather abruptly and he moves on to other jobs. But over the course of a couple of years, he and Fanny drift in and out of each other's lives as Richard takes on private nursing assignments. Some are sad, some are amusing, but overall this book is just sort of melancholy, but it didn't end at all how I was expecting. In retrospect there were hints all along that made perfect sense as I read the final paragraphs.
Like I was hoping, it was a pretty quick read, and I think I read it all one day (we had some unexpected bad weather and I was stuck inside the whole weekend). It was a fairly good read but I don't suppose this will be reprinted anytime soon -- it's very middlebrow but not really interesting enough to get picked up by Persephone or any of the other indie publishers who are reprinting unappreciated fiction right now. I don't read that many books from the 1970s and parts of it are very much of its time, i.e. a couple of pretty cringe-worthy racial slurs.
An OK read but I suspect it will end up in the Little Free Library down the street. But it's one more book knocked off my TBR pile.