I went into this novel cold, and I was all the better for it. So if the following short premise sounds good to you, stop reading and find this novel and go forth.
An older British woman languishing in the home of her useless son in Spain is gifted an encrusted hearing trumpet that better allows her to hear and comprehend the conversations in the world around her. Having been mistaken for senile, when her hard of hearing is the better explanation, she begins to better understand the kind of fallen nature in this world. The results are initially funny and weird, especially as she gets shipped off to a local old persons home.
Ok so stop there if you want.
Ok, so then what happens is insane. So the whole old person who is way more with it and has a whole lot more life to live is already a great trope to begin a novel and plenty of British women have written novels with this being their central conceit, often with the new addition of a reinvigorated sexual drive being in tow. This novel…well goes in a different direction. Rather than finding a young beau to sex her up, our heroine becomes enmeshed in a mythopoeic Grail quest to find the source of magic in the world and to deliver the world into a new mode of being after a new ice age that kills off all humanity and restores a balanced earth populated by magical creatures like werewolves and fairies.
So that was unexpected right?
The novel sort of takes the trope of age as uselessness and jazzes it up in a kind of supercharged way to actually say: “I’ll show YOU who’s useless!” And then all of humanity dies in a hilarious way. The novel goes in several unexpected digressions, many of which are funny and rich. But all through this, that voice, of the kind of older dowager never falters or is challenged by her new world.
(Photo by Emerico Weisz)