Tuesday 9 November 2021

An Extra Pair of Hands by Kate Mosse @katemosse @ProfileBooks #AnExtraPairOfHands #CaringAgeing #EverydayActOfLove #BookReview


As our population ages, more and more of us find ourselves caring for parents and loved ones - some 8.8 million people in the UK. An invisible army of carers holding families together.

Here, Kate Mosse tells her personal story of finding herself as a carer in middle age: first, helping her mother look after her beloved father through Parkinson's, then supporting her mother in widowhood, and finally as 'an extra pair of hands' for her 90-year-old mother-in-law.

This is a story about the gentle heroism of our carers, about small everyday acts of tenderness, and finding joy in times of crisis. It's about juggling priorities, mind-numbing repetition, about guilt and powerlessness, about grief, and the solace of nature when we're exhausted or at a loss. It is also about celebrating older people, about learning to live differently - and think differently about ageing.

But most of all, it's a story about love.

An Extra Pair of Hands  : A story of caring, ageing & everyday acts of love Kate Mosse was published in hardback by Profile Books / The Wellcome Collection on 3 June 2021. I bought my signed copy from Waterstones.

I really admire Kate Mosse. I'm a huge fan of her Langudoc series and have also enjoyed her stand alone stories. She's a great advocate for authors and for reading in general. When I saw the signed hardback copy of An Extra Pair of Hands in Waterstones over the summer, I knew I had to read this one.

It has taken me until now to get around to reading it, because, ironically, my own Mum is now sick and being cared for at home. My Dad is her main carer, but myself and my brother, and our partners are around too and Mum's terminal diagnosis has turned our lives upside down.

It was never an issue about care. We knew, as a family, that Mum would be at home and that we could look after her. We have amazing support from our local Hospice, from the Community team and from the carers that come in every day to help, but in the main, it's down to my Dad. He's 76 and Mum is 80.

Reading An Extra Pair of Hands, for me, was very emotional. Whilst our circumstances are different, the author's compassionate and understanding way of describing her relationship with her parents, and her mother in law struck me on so many levels. There is something quite special about reading something that really does resonate, that reinforces ones own feelings and also deals with ones own fears. 

Kate Mosse talks about how many carers there are in the UK, and how they are mostly forgotten about, or taken advantage of. How families and loved ones take on caring responsibilities without a thought for their own physical or mental health. She talks about how families pull together, and how the departure of elderly loved ones can leave such a massive hole, one that will never be filled. 

The author relates tiny things that have a great impact, there are funny parts and heart breaking parts. When she looks out of her mother's kitchen window one morning and sees the packet of cigarettes sitting on the windowsill, I had to close the book, close my eyes and take some deep breaths. She really could have been talking about my own Mum's window, and about me. 

This is a book that I will keep forever. It has been soothing, it has pull at my heart strings and it has been a comfort. We are not yet at the end of our journey with Mum, somehow, after reading this book, I don't feel quite so alone.

Kate Mosse is a No 1 international bestselling novelist, playwright and non fiction writer,
best known for her multi-million Languedoc Trilogy - Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel - and for her Gothic Fiction, including The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist's Daughter, which she is adapting for film & stage. 

Her novel The Burning Chambers - published May 2018 - is the first in an epic historical adventure series. 

Non fiction titles include The House: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House and Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty. 

Kate hosts the pre/post show interview series at CFT in Sussex and at the National Theatre in London, she is on the Executive Committee of Women of the World, the Founder Director of the Women's Prize for Fiction and Deputy Chair of the Royal National Theatre.

Twitter @katemosse

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