#Blogtour Jack and Bet by Sarah Butler @sarahbutler100 @picadorbooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #JackAndBet

Jack And Bet by Sarah Butler.
Picador March 5th 2020

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.

My Review

When you reach 90 do you just give up, move into a care home and let the world pass by? Jack and Bet were different, no care home for them, independence their mantra despite the efforts of their only son Tommy. Jack’s chance meeting with a young Romanian , Marinela and her involvement in their lives forced them to look back, to question decisions made and indeed their relationship, their seventy year marriage.

Butler opened up their world, the differences that sometimes seemed to force Jack and Bet apart, yet also pulled them together. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, it had its secrets, their personalities almost polar opposites, yet still they remained together. Was it because their generation didn’t believe in divorce or was it because they really loved each other, depended on one another, couldn’t quite imagine a life on their own?

I loved Butler’s tender narrative, never sloppily sentimental as their story unfolded, each chapter told in their own distinctive voices. What I found particularly clever was Butler’s use of Marinela, young and vibrant, with her own secret. You could see the similarities between herself and the young Bet, the desire for a little bit more in life than what they had. Marinela had her own story, her own struggles, but she had a heart, she made time for Jack and Bet, she cared for them, respected them. Bet insistence on helping her almost seemed like she was living the life that she could have had, but couldn’t quite bring herself to take when the opportunity arose. Marinela allowed Butler to show that just because your 90 you can still embrace change, enjoy what modern society had to offer.

I think I knew what would happen towards the end but that didn’t take anything away from the novel. It only cemented the whole feeling of the novel, that life doesn’t end when we reach old age, we can still learn, and adapt, just like the younger generation.

Ninety doesn’t mean care homes, no life, no feelings, the body may fail, but the mind, thoughts and determination are still strong, a lesson for us all.

A beautiful, wise novel, full of emotion, tenderness and resolve, and just lovely.

I would like to thank Picador for a copy of Jack and Bet to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sarah Butler is the acclaimed author of two previous novels, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and Before the Fire. 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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