A few years back a fellow reviewer advised me against taking on books from authors themselves. Several bad experiences had prompted this advice; a writer offering money for a five star review, a writer begging for a higher star rating than the reviewer was prepared to give, an author demanding a review be rewritten! And up till now I’ve heeded that advice. But sometimes a gut instinct, a sixth sense kicks in and throwing caution to the wind I responded to Anthony Le Moignan’s social media offer of a review copy of his book The Long Goodbye. Moral of that digressionary prologue? Follow your instincts!!
This is a self published, debut novel. The Alzheimers/dementia theme, currently quite topical in fiction, invites comparison with Lisa Genova’s Still Alice since it deals specifically with early onset Alzheimer’s, and the writer himself acknowledges a similarity with Emma Healy’s Elizabeth is Missing and Jojo Moyes Me Before You. Readers with affinities to those books should enjoy this novel.
I love debut works. There’s an optimism within them, unstated but there in the exuberance of the language and the tendency to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the reader! I sometimes baulk when a debut novel attempts to deal with a potential harrowing subject. But my fears here were unfounded. Whilst this is clearly a debut novel it is an impressive one.
The characters are well developed and believable. Simon is heart warming and heart tugging. And the novel is populated with largely decent people. That’s quite unusual today! There are no real ‘baddies’! That gives you a warm feeling and makes you care about the characters. The running theme is well executed and sustained throughout. Whilst the dementia theme is potentially harrowing there is sufficient humour and wit to offer some light relief and bring a smile to your face. In fact prepare yourself to run through your entire catalogue of emotions.
When I was at school I remember being told to ‘write about what you know’. It was always good advice and here is another perfect example. Meticulous research is one thing and so many writers display consummate skill in their use of it. But this writer has first hand understanding of seeing someone suffer with that cruel condition, Alzheimers, and it shows in his writing. Reader, I wept.
And if there’s another thing I learned from reading this book it is that Anthony Le Moignan loved his dad and love runs through this novel, flowing out of every sentence. Mr. Le Moignan Senior would be so proud of his son. So what appears to be a novel about a memory wasting disease is fundamentally about - Love.
Have a look at this YouTube clip.
My thanks to Anthony for sending me a copy of this fine book.