Book: Below Luck Level - Barbara Erasmus

By admin
25 May 2012

Rating: 4/5

It’s a disease that eats away at a person’s brain, gobbling all their memories and reasoning skills, eventually making it impossible for them to carry out the simplest of tasks. There’s no cure. 

When it comes to relentlessly grim subject matter not much can top Alzheimer’s and I have to admit that when Below Luck Level landed on my desk I approached it with trepidation – but by the time I’d finished the first chapter I was totally hooked and ended up devouring the book in just a few sittings.

Hannah Cartwright becomes worried when her eccentric mother, Chloe, starts behaving even more erratically than usual – forgetting things and constantly getting herself into trouble.

A doctor’s diagnosis confirms her worst suspicions: at the relatively young age of 59, Chloe has Alzheimer’s.

The novel follows Hannah as she tries to cope with the steady decline of the mother she adores. Yes, it’s harrowing and intensely sad but Barbara Erasmus structures her novel so cleverly and has such a lively, witty writing style you never feel bogged down by its central Alzheimer’s theme.

And anyway, it soon becomes clear Chloe isn’t the only one with big problems – why does Hannah have an irresistible urge to shoplift and why can’t she commit to a man who’s obviously so perfect for her?

While Chloe’s memory is slowly eroded, Hannah’s is flooded with recollections from the past as she revisits her childhood growing up in Cape Town, and her relationship with her remarkable mother.

This is one of those rare books that will make you laugh and cry. Highly recommended.

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