Friday 13 March 2020

Jack And Bet by Sarah Butler BLOG TOUR @SarahButler100 @picadorbooks #RandomThingsTours @graceharrison55 #JackAndBet

Even the longest marriages have their secrets 
Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years - almost a lifetime - and happily so, for the most part.
All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.
When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution - one that could change Marinela's life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.
Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler's Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.

Jack and Bet by Sarah Butler was published in paperback on 5 March 2020 by Picador. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

Jack and Bet is Sarah Butler's third novel. I read both of her previous books; Ten Things I've Learned About Love, and Before The Fire here on Random Things.

I really admire this author. Her books are consistently well written yet each one of them is so very different to the other. What she always does though, is create such a realistic sense of place, whether it be London or Manchester; the authenticity of the area is stunning and it really does feel as though the reader is walking the streets that she so vividly describes.

In Jack and Bet, the reader is transported to Elephant and Castle area of London, we meet Jack as he shops in his local shopping arcade and drinks his daily coffee in the cafe that he visits every day. Jack and his wife Bet have been married for seventy years and there's a party planned. They haven't always lived in their current flat, they were forced to move when their original home was demolished as part of the London regeneration scheme. Instead of the home that they shared, all Jack now sees is the sun glinting on the windows of the towering Shard building, whilst behind hoarding and wire fences is the remains of what used to be home.

Jack and Bet have one son, Terry. In his sixties with three ex wives and no children, Terry really wants his parents to move into assisted living accommodation.  However Jack, and Bet especially, have no plans to go anywhere. This causes some friction between the small family and Terry is determined that he will continue to bring up the subject until they are worn down.

Enter Marinela, a young Romanian woman who Jack meets in the cafe. Marinela loves photography and Jack and Bet's seventieth wedding anniversary party is the ideal opportunity for her to practice her art. She usually concentrate on the old, almost knocked-down buildings in the area.

So begins a very special relationship, benefitting both the older couple and young Marinela. The author tenderly and cleverly creates an emotionally charged story that delves into the hidden past of the older couple and also looks at the issues that a young immigrant has to deal with in London. It is evocative and pulls at the heart strings on so many levels. These characters are superbly drawn and I defy any reader not to fall in love with them. It's a story that made me think about the things that I own, and the place that I live in, and how much these mean to me, and how much they affect my life. It's a story of questions and discoveries.

Jack and Bet is another smart and emotional story from a very gifted author. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

Sarah Butler is the acclaimed author of Ten Things I've Learnt About Love, Before the Fire and Jack & Bet
Her writing has been translated into fourteen languages. 
She is also the author of a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation. 

Sarah is a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and lives in Manchester with her family.

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