Friday, March 1, 2013

Readalong with Rosie, February: 'The 100 Year Old Man...'and Memories of my Nan.

Before we start this month's book review, I'd really like to introduce you to my Nanna: the late (great) Olive.
At aged 97, when she died, my nanna was a shadow of her former self. She despised being old: not being able to feed herself, bathe herself and move around. She was a hardy sort, used to a country life in the north of England. When her town flooded at the age of 96, we telephoned to check she was alright and because she wouldn't have had many visitors. After shouting in the wrong end of the phone for a while (her not me!), we had a brief chat, whereby she announced that she wished she had the strength to pitch herself out of the window and drown.
We never really took her moderate suicidal comments seriously. After all, she'd been telling she was going to be 'dead soon' ever since she reached the age of 80! It usually came right after the 'I love you' and the cuddle as she left our house after visiting at Christmas or the summer. Like Peter, who cried wolf too often, we never quite believed her threats were real.
My nanna died of natural causes - sorry if you thought I was leading up to a fantastical anecdote. She would never have really killed herself, not as a Christian. But I can understand why, particularly later in life, when she had just had enough.
Remarkably, my nanna did not go into a nursing home until she was 92. Even then it was a struggle to make her leave her assisted flat. She was black and blue all over with bruises from falling before she was finally convinced that it might be better for her health to not spend 8 hours a night in crippling pain on her bedroom floor.
(Even if that did mean she would finally have to hang around with other old people - an activity she actively avoided as they were all so 'deadly dull'.)
It's for all of these reasons that I identified with the main character in 'The 100 year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared.' Like her, he couldn't stand being couped up in the home, deprived of life's little indulgences and feeling patronised by the staff around him.
After all, when you have seen nearly 100 years of history in your lifetime, taken part in some of the biggest events the world has ever seen, sitting in an armchair, dribbling really isn't an adequate end.
I loved this novel. Its tongue-in-cheek references to how our little old man changed the course of history through his knowledge/love of explosives not only forces you to readdress our perception of the elderly, but also how little old Betty down the road could just have easily stopped the Cold War as won a line at bingo the night before.
The protagonist Allan avoids many scrapes in his life just by being an easy-going, apolitical chap. Well, I suppose you would have to be as a bomb expert for America, Russia, China, Korea and other super-powers! His ability to accept the opportunities in front of him, and survive despite life throwing him lemons a lot of the time is an important lesson we can all learn from.

An easy, light read 'The 100 Year Old Man.....' is a brilliant read well worth your time. Expect to chuckle: lots!
So what did you think? If you read along please feel free to leave a link to your blog post reviewing the book. Older posts than February 2013 are very welcome.

The March book is 'Purple Hibiscus' by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie.
One of the ONLY modern female authors to be added to the English GCSE syllabus in recent years, this is certain to be a great read. It's a novel for women all over the world and anyone interested in exploring the nature of good and evil. Just remember to save the date to come and link up on Friday 5th April.
Happy reading!
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Lieke said...

Hi Rosie, I really really like this post. And I am glad you dedicated reading this book to you nanna. I am sure would have loved it too! I haven't read it (yet) but it is still on my to read list....

Cocalores said...

Really a great post! Your nanna sounds a lot like my own (who, luckily, is still with us at age 92). There's so much that we can learn from people like them =)

Didn't read along, even though I wish I wasn't as lazy (or hard-working) as I am, but this book has been on my To Read list for ages. Love your recommendations, teach!


Ang said...

What a wonderful post! I love how personal you made this book review, which could have been a bit blah - instead it was beautifully written from the heart. Well done, friend! :)

Rebecca @ Herons Crafts said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Your Nanna sounds like she was a wonderful lady! What a great review.

A Proverbs 31 Wife said...

Never heard of this book, but I really want to read it now :)

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