Non fiction

Staunch by Eleanor Wood


About the Book

A late 30s The Wrong Knickers meets Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Eleanor finds herself in her late 30s on a beach in India with three old ladies, trying to ‘find herself’ and ‘discover her family history’ like some sad middle-class crisis cliché. How did she get here?

Truthfully, it could be for any one of the below reasons, if not all combined:

• Stepmum dying/Stepdad leaving – family falling apart, subsequent psychotic break; both parents now on third marriage
• Breaking up with J after 12 years – breaking up a whole life, a whole fucking universe – for reasons that may have been… misguided?
• New boyfriend moving in immediately, me insisting ‘it’s not a rebound!’ even after everyone has stopped listening, being cited in his messy divorce, him being sectioned, then breaking up with me
• Going into therapy after dating a potentially violent, certainly threatening, narcissist (the most pertinent point of which should be noted: I did not break up with him – he ghosted me)

How to address this situation? Take a trip to India with your octogenarian nan and two great aunts of course. The perfect, if somewhat unusual, distraction from Eleanor’s ongoing crisis.

But the trip offers so much more than Eleanor could ever have hoped for.

Through the vivid and worldly older women in her life, she learns what it means to be staunch in the face of true adversity.

What I thought

I knew after the first couple of pages that I was going to like this book. Told in the first person, Eleanor’s personality jumps off the pages and quickly draws in the reader.  What I didn’t realise until way through the book is that this isn’t fiction, it’s a memoir of the authors life so far.  This made it even more fascinating and a lot more meaningful.

After first setting the present day scene on a beach in Goa, India, you’re then taken back in time through all the trauma and upset set out in the blurb for the book.

The narrative is captivating, well I thought so. It’s like sitting down with someone you’ve just met while they pour out their life story so far. You wouldn’t think someone in their 30’s could have a particularly huge life story but so much has happened in Eleanor’s life not of her making, that you can’t help but feel huge empathy for her.

To quote the book description “A late 30s The Wrong Knickers meets Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, having read neither I couldn’t comment on whether that is a true description or not. The writing style is chatty and fast paced, never dwelling for too long on each of the heartaches and heartbreaks in Eleanors life and there’s been a lot of heartache, not just with previous partners and boyfriends but the loss of her step-dad was a crushing blow to Eleanor who had a wonderful relationship with him.

It’s not just about Eleanor and her troubles, she describes the very close relationship she has with her nan.  Her family – her grandmother and her grandmothers sisters were born in India and grew up there until India was given it’s independence from British rule in 1947.  I learned so much about what happened in India and the partition when India was split up, with part of it becoming Pakistan.  I didn’t know any of the history until reading this book.

The story isn’t told in any particular chronological order.  It really is like sitting chatting to a friend who divulges their deepest thoughts.  Always told with humour and kept light but then that is a part of who Eleanor is.

She shares the love and fondness she has for her family and what it is about her grandmother and her aunts that makes them, in the authors eyes, staunch.  Throughout the book, most of which is set in India you get to meet the many different people they encounter on their holiday there, you get a deep insight into Eleanor’s thoughts and life so far and you meet her lovely Nan and great aunts and learn about their lives both in India and here in England.  A riveting read which I enjoyed very much.

♥ Happy Reading ♥

The book is published in e-book and Hardback on 19 March 2020.  Link to Amazon

Thank you to the publisher HQ for an ARC of the book via Netgalley

3 thoughts on “Staunch by Eleanor Wood

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