Friday, 10 June 2016

Review: Knowing Anna by Sarah Meyrick*

I don't want to brag.. but I've read 3 books this week. Actually, there's nothing to brag about there, it just means I had a pretty free weekend and read books that I didn't want to put down until they were finished.

Knowing Anna by Sarah Meyrick is one of those books. My copy now has a salsa stain on one of the pages because why would I put it down merely for the task of eating?

Knowing Anna follows her (Anna's) family and friends as they venture along the Pilgrims Way, her final request before she died from cancer. Each pilgrim is battling their secrets, hearts aches and dramas as well as grieving for their wife, mum, friend, or daughter. 

 Then a stranger joins the group. Who is he? And what was the catastrophe that drove Anna from home a decade earlier?

Over the course of nine days, the pilgrims share their memories of Anna, and gradually the layers of her life are peeled back to uncover secrets that no one ever suspected. Can those who loved her come to terms with all that is past as her life is peeled back to uncover secrets that no one ever suspected.

Just to clarify, this book is a work of fiction, because I was pretty unsure when I first read the blurb!

Having just finished Dorothy Koomson's The Girl From Nowhere (review, soon) I wasn't sure if I was ready for another weepy book. But, I'm a sucker for my own punishment and knew I'd cry whenever I read it so I curled up on Friday night and read. First of all, it's a great length so I knew it was a "one weekend" kind of book. Secondly, I really want to walk the Pilgrim's Way as a result of this book. Who is joining me?

For the most part, the characters are relatable and likeable - I really felt for Anna's parents as they battled with their grieve and the ailments of getting old whilst also looking out for their son in law and grandchildren. The relationship between Anna's mum (grandma) and son, Sam is really touching. However, Beth was written as a "typical teenager" complete with a vocabulary I've never heard used by any of the young people I've worked with- this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, there are plenty of teenagers who can talk without saying "whatever, like mega borezone" or similar. However, I was really rooting for her to come out top by the end of the novel. 

As well as a beautiful tour of the walk from Guildford to Canterbury; the story is full of twists, turns and revelations right up until the end. I cried for the tragedy that Anna suffered ten years ago as well as for her family suffering in the present and even I couldn't call the biggest secret of them all (and as I've previously mentioned I like to think I'm Miss Marple or something). 

I will say the "stranger" who joins this is a bit built up in the blurb, but as a marketer I can forgive them for that! Whilst not my favourite character he certainly brings perspective to the whole group and offers the lesson of "never judge a book by its cover". 

Full of grace and wisdom I would definitely recommend this book. It's an emotional read but well worth a couple of tears. So curl up next weekend with a cup of tea and a couple of tissues and enjoy. 

*Thank you to Marylebone House (SPCK) for sending me a free copy of Knowing Anna in exchange for an honest review

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