Desert Isle Keeper
The Things We Keep
I’ve heard good things about the writing of Sally Hepworth, but it was not until The Things We Keep was released that I felt compelled to try one of her books for myself. Ms. Hepworth is one of those authors who transports her readers out of their own lives and into the lives of her characters. Narrators Barrie Kreinik and Therese Plummer really breathe life into Ms. Hepworth’s characters, making this one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in some time.
Anna Forster is a thirty-eight-year-old woman who has recently been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Not wanting to be a burden to her twin brother and his family, Anna decides she needs to be placed in residential care. After looking at several facilities, she decides on Rosalind House. She likes the fact that the residents seem active and happy, but, even more than that, Anna is pleased to discover there is another young person living there. Luke is forty-one and deals with a form of dementia that affects his ability to speak.
Eve Bennett’s life has been turned up-side-down. Four months earlier, she was the rich wife of an investment banker; now, she’s a widow and single mother, struggling to make ends meet. She feels ostracized by her former social group who hold her partly responsible for the embezzlement her husband admitted to just before his death. Out of options, Eve applies for a job as cook at Rosalind House, even though it’s far from an ideal job. Eve once dreamed of being a chef at a fancy restaurant, but she has to face reality. So Rosalind House it is.
Ms. Hepworth weaves a complex story with Eve speaking in the present and Anna relating events leading up to the present. Eve’s seven-year-old daughter Clementine joins in, sharing her heartbreaking struggle to come to terms with things no young child should have to deal with. These three very different points of view tell a story with one very clear message: Love can transcend anything.
You might be asking where I get the idea that love plays a part in this story. Well, Anna and Luke form a bond shortly after Anna arrives at Rosalind House. They find comfort in each other’s company, and this comfort quickly blossoms into something more. Anna can’t remember Luke’s name, so refers to him as “Young Guy”, but, even without knowing his name, she is aware that everything seems infinitely brighter if he is by her side.
Eve comes to work at Rosalind House fourteen months after Anna arrives there. One of the first things she is told is that Luke and Anna must be locked in their rooms at night. Something happened between them, and Anna’s family is determined to keep them apart. This troubles Eve, but what can she do to help them? After watching the two of them for a short while, she is determined to risk everything to ensure these two even a small amount of togetherness.
Therese Plummer narrates the parts of the book that are told from Anna’s point of view, and she becomes, Anna, giving voice to her confusion, joy, and despair. She allows listeners to feel everything Anna feels, and it’s a very emotional experience.
Barrie Kreinik reads the parts of the book told from Eve and Clementine’s points of view. At first, I thought a different narrator had been chosen to read Clementine’s part, because Ms Kreinik voices the child so very distinctly. She gives her an innocence that most adults wouldn’t be able to pull off, and her portrayal of Eve is equally impressive. She uses a very authentic British accent when Eve speaks, something that fits the character to a tee.
Both narrators also do a fantastic job with the cast of secondary characters. Burt and Clara, two elderly residents of Rosalind House made me smile with their wisdom and their vulnerability. The narrators portray them beautifully, making them seem like real people.
This is a beautifully written story about the power of love. Parts of it brought me to tears, while other parts made me smile and glow with a deep feeling of inner peace. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a story with a lot of emotional depth.
Breakdown of grade: Narration: A and Book Content: A Unabridged. Length – 9 hours 49 minutes