I’m too old for miserable endings.
‘Everyday is Mother’s Day’ is technically a very good book, but suffers from a fatal feature that less-developed wusses like me can’t handle, which is the death of a helpless innocent. I have a list in my head of every film where the dog gets killed, or a child dies, and no, nope, never going to watch it again. It goes into a black list in my head, and I don’t care if there are puppies of the dead dog at the end of ‘Turner and Hooch’. In fact, if I there is a dog in a violent or action film, I’ll be uncomfortable entire way through, until I know it’s safe. This book doesn’t have a dog death, instead it has the avoidable death of a baby. I was shouting at the mother to just leave it at a bus stop in a shop doorway, but she didn’t hear me, so the book has made my list and will never be read again.
The story features an elderly mother and her vulnerable adult daughter living in strange circumstances, the mother believing their filthy, dilapidated house is possessed by ghosts, the daughter under the eye of social services (but not a particularly watchful eye as she manages to skip out of day centre and get pregnant). There is also the sub-plot of the distracted social worker having an affair, and the complicated family mess that is. Having worked in social services I am often on guard when anyone paints a sensationally dark picture of incompetence, but this is quite well balanced. We see efforts being made, but there are failings in the system, and especially with adult care, where there is a someone (in this case, the mother) there to help the vulnerable adult, the case will not be treated as urgent, due to the other more pressing matters of all the children and isolated adults needing care.
While I will never pick this up again, until the baby was killed I loved this book. It was dark and strange and while I like Mantel’s historical fiction, I love the picture of the universal weirdness of all families that she portrays in her contemporary work like this, and also ‘A Change of Climate’. That also features innocent death, but as as something in the past that affects the characters, and not part of the current plot. It’s waiting for these things to happen that is the worst.
And I’ve never seen Bambi, and I never will.