The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

I read this probably just over a week ago but couldn’t begin to write a review for it.  In fact even now I think this will be difficult.

This will be a short review – not as a reflection of the way I felt about the book – but simply because I’m struggling for once to put my feelings into words.

This is basically a narrative from a young woman, a sort of letter to her own father who she has been looking after during his illness.  Her father is dying of cancer and the narrator over the space of a few days, with her siblings joining her and through a number of flashbacks tells a short story of life and death.  It’s a story of family, letting go and ultimately escaping and breaking free – probably of your own inner demons.

This isn’t an easy book to read.  It’s dark and bleak without doubt.  A number of us will have experienced the death of a loved one and the writing in this book is so powerful it will recall those moments vividly.  The portrayal of the family and the petty rivalries, jealousies and allegiances are perfectly defined and it really is a book that makes you sit back and reflect on past experiences.  Basically, death, far from bringing people closer together quite often has the opposite effect and sometimes brings out the worst in people.

I think that perhaps the most significant compliment I can pay this book is that I came away from it thinking it must be true in parts – that it felt like a book that was almost cathartic for the author – that’s literally how believable the writing and emotions are!  I don’t believe that this is really the case of course but it really had me believing that as I was reading.

This is a book that may make you feel raw – but it’s still a book that I would recommend- just maybe choose your moment before picking it up.

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9 Responses to “The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough”

  1. brideofthebookgod

    That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, Lynn, waiting for the right moment. Have had this since it came out but not felt ready to pick it up yet.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know what you mean. I love the way SP weaves her stories. It’s like art. Undoubtedly the subject matter of this book is not joyous or happy. I certainly don’t think I would want to read it if I was feeling in a low place already. But she has such a knack of pinpointing the way people really behave that makes you almost recognise the characters in the book, they feel real. I almost felt like she was writing from experience! I very emotional, gritty and thought provoking read.
      Lynn:D

  2. Keri B.

    That’s a really beautiful cover.

    • lynnsbooks

      It really is a lovely cover isn’t it. I don’t tend to put a lot of book covers in here but I thought that one was so beautiful.
      Lynn 😀
      btw – just saw your interview post. Stopping by in the morning to check that out 😀

  3. Cathy746books

    That’s the kind of book you have to be ready to read I think. My parents died a few years ago and I have to be really careful what I pick up, for my emotional wellbeing! There is nothing like a book to grab your heart and squeeze….

    • lynnsbooks

      Exactly – and this book is really quite powerful!
      Sorry about your parents – that’s really hard.
      Lynn 😦

  4. Stefan's Bookshelf

    After reading your review I am adding this one to my reading list. I lost my Dad 17 years ago and while mosts of the time I am ok, there are times when the loss hits me like a freight train, even after all this time. Books like this help me deal with the whirlwind emotions.

    • lynnsbooks

      I would love to know what you think. I think it’s very well written. It’s not a book, given the subject, that you can say you enjoyed but I think it was very good. Everybody says time heals and I suppose it does in that you don’t feel as ‘raw’ but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still be overtaken by emotion at times.
      Lynn 😀

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