An extraordinary portrait of family life, mother-son relationships and bereavement.
Before the exquisitely painful ‘loss of her marbles’, Mrs Royle, a nurse by profession, is a marvellously no-nonsense character, an autodidact who reads widely and voraciously—from Trollope to Woolf, White to Winterson—swears at her fox-hunting neighbours, and instils in the young Nick a love of reading and wildlife that will form his character and his career.
He captures the spirit of post-war parenting as well as of his mother whose dementia and death were triggered by the tragedy of losing her other son—Royle’s younger brother—to cancer in his twenties.
Touching, funny and philosophical, this beautifully written memoir is punctuated by Royle’s characteristic observations of the natural world and literature, as well as reflections on the links between the maternal and memory itself.
Suffused with warmth and longing, this is expert storytelling and a fascinating study of the habits we pass down as parents and imbibe as children.