The Woman who Kept Everything


About the Book

The Lady in the Van meets The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in this uplifting, funny and moving debut novel about a 79-year-old hoarder who is convinced the world is against her.

79-year-old Gloria Frensham is a hoarder. She lives amongst piles of magazines, cardboard boxes and endless knick-knacks that are stacked into every room of her home, and teeter in piles along the landing and up the stairs.

She hasn’t left the house in years, but when a sudden smell of burning signifies real danger, she is forced to make a sudden departure and leave behind her beloved possessions.

Determined she’s not ready for a care home, Gloria sets out to discover what life still has to offer her. It’s time to navigate the outside world on her own, one step at a time, with just one very small suitcase in tow…

Heart-warming and poignant in equal measure, this is a story about the loneliness of life, the struggles of growing old, the power of kindness, and the bravery it takes to leave our comfort zones.

What I Thought

Ooh, what to say. This book has to be in my top best loved books of 2018. I enjoyed every single page. There was never a dull moment. This is the kind of story that although entertaining and often light-hearted still carries an underlying message, in fact quite a few messages come to think of it.

At the beginning we meet Gloria, a 79 year old lady who lives alone in her own home surrounded by stuff and lots of it. Gloria is a hoarder, rarely goes out and struggles to even move around her house to cook and wash, her house is so cluttered. Her son Clegg has all but given up on her and she hasn’t seen her grandchildren for at least 10 years.

Quite soon on in the book all that is about to change when an electrical fault in her house means she’s temporarily moved into elderly residential care and it’s here that she receives help and more importantly a listening ear. She’s given counselling which helps her to understand how her hoarding habit started.

As a result Gloria reaches a turning point in her life and the rest of the book sees her trying new things, rekindling long lost friendships and making new friends. It’s a joy to read and at times melts your heart. It also makes you realise just how vulnerable the elderly can become, often unnoticed and forgotten. A very sad sign of our times.

But it’s not a depressing story by any means, there’s lots to smile at all the way through. Whilst written in the third person it is still Gloria who tells the story and Gloria who the reader is with all the way through with lots of other memorable characters thrown into the mix.

The most striking thing I noticed was that in the beginning the narrative was quite child like but as Gloria tried out more things, developing her independence, her confidence grew and along with that the story telling seemed to become so much more confident and mature.   I just loved, loved this book it was brilliant.  If you’ve read a Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh and enjoyed it, you will adore this book.

The ending made me laugh and cry at the same time, laugh because of the image it left me with and cry because, well, I grew to love those characters like they were real people and I’ll miss reading about them.

♥ Happy Reading ♥

Thank you to Avon Books UK and Netgalley for this ARC in return for an honest review.

The book comes out on Kindle on 3 December 2018 and paperback 7 February 2019.  You can pre-order right now from Amazon here

One thought on “The Woman who Kept Everything

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