Yeesh, this book depressed the crap outta me. After finishing it, I turned on Netflix and watched a few episodes of the Danish comedy Rita so I could feel better about life and humanity again. Then when the mail came I had a box stuffed full of Jim Butcher’s Dresden novels waiting for me. Saved!
Caroline “Caro” Spencer is a former teacher in her 70’s. After a heart attack, she is no longer able to care for herself and her home. She moves in with her brother and his much younger wife but that doesn’t work out. Before long, they are moving her into a home out in the country. It is a ramshackle old farmhouse, run by a supremely unpleasant couple of women. It has got to be one of the most depressing and dispiriting places on earth. The story is told through Caro’s notebooks, a kind of journal she is keeping to get her mind and heart in order, preparing for death. It is a grim detail of the indignities, big and small, of aging and of elder care. Written in the early 70’s, I have to wonder of things really have changed all that much.
Sarton’s writing is clear and moving. While I didn’t always like Caro, I could really see and feel her pain and loss. What a powerful book.