Hello and happy Tuesday! It’s my stop on the blogtour for Jack and Bet by Sarah Butler and I’m delighted to share my thoughts with you on it✨
Even the longest marriages have their secrets . . .
Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.
All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.
When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.
Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.
I was so intrigued by the premise of this novel; I spent ten years living and working in central London so am a total sucker for almost any book that is set there!
Right from the first page, Butler had me sitting in a cafe in Elephant and Castle, Zone 1, Central London. And I could feel the familiarity of it all; the sights, the smells, the tastes; it was all there. There was a particular scene in Claridges that really took me back; I could taste the sandwiches and smell the herbal tea. I fell in love with Butler’s writing style and could only hope to write half as well as her.
The depth of the characters for what is essentially a short novel, is truly astonishing; I loved Jack, I loved Bet, I loved Marinela. They became as familiar and likeable as old chums.
Whilst Butler sympathetically deals with some difficult themes in this book, the overriding theme is kindness. She carefully dissects marriage and it’s evolution over a period of time, unfaithfulness, society’s view of old people, old peoples’ view of society, loneliness, jealousy, and tenuous relationships.
The aspect that I found most interesting was her examination of the relationship between people and property. Butler conjured up some deep seated afflictions in both Jack and Bet that came directly from their attachment to property; specifically a tower block that had recently been brought down for gentrification. In Jack and Bet, Butler puts the microscope squarely on the human effects and consequences relating directly to property, and I found this fascinating.
Things do all come to a head when catastrophe strikes in a multitude of differing ways, and along the way there is role reversal between children and adults, loss of independence, family drama, romance, grief and the blossoming of a new and somewhat unusual friendship. This book has it all.
Warm, moving, and life affirming, Jack and Bet is a searingly relevant snapshot of what it’s like to grow old in London, but also so much more. I loved it.
Jack and Bet is out in beautiful hardcover now and you can buy it here✨
My thanks go to Picador my finished copy and to Anne Cater for the invitation to the blogtour.
If you liked my post, please do check out my others and also the other stops on the blogtour (see below) ♥️
Until next time! Have a wonderful day!