Book Review | Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

Thank you to Jen, Penguin Michael Joseph and Squadpod for sending me a proof copy of Meredith, Alone in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days.But she insists she isn’t alone.

She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.

But something’s about to change.

First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.

Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.

Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door . . .

Review

Meredith, Alone is a wonderful, charming novel filled with strength and resilience.

The chapters are a timeline, with a prologue starting at day 1 and the bulk of the novel beginning at day 1214. The date is also given underneath. I found this really helps to gain context and also with understanding the extent of Meredith’s condition. Additionally the present day is alternated with past, staring in 1993 with a teenage Meredith as she begins to pick through her life, and various other points, not in chronological order.

From the beginning I warmed to Meredith, she’s very humble and I found her focus on details interesting. Her fears and hopes were all completely realistic, if illogical as they truly can be in real life. Meredith was a very three-dimensional character for me and I could definitely vividly imagine her living down the road and going about her limited life behind closed doors.

A lot of the descriptions of panic, fear and anxiety I could resonate with and really remembered feeling similar things at one point in my own life. It was a complete throwback and in some ways I had really forgotten what it was like. Claire Alexander’s descriptions were spot on. Having those feelings and reactions definitely teaches you not to take anything for granted. When your world shrinks to the four walls of your house, meticulous details and timings become all you have to focus on. You find the pleasure in the smallest most menial tasks and I think Alexander really gets this across well.

I liked learning of Meredith’s past through the snippets of information we were given. Of her wider circle, family and friends. Her backstory is as fascinating and it was really informative to gather together a picture of what had happened to her and why it had triggered what it had.

The loneliness and isolation are extremely well portrayed. The network Meredith has around her is wonderful and I really rooted for her, her life and her friends. Tom is a lovely character and I really found his and Meredith’s unorthodox friendship a delight. Their bond over jigsaw’s and their shared problems made their conversations free-flowing and purposeful. His perseverance and looking out for her, even through closed doors, was also charming.

Meredith is a real character, full of humour but equally filled with pain. Her life has been tough and I really wanted to give her a hug on many occasions! Learning about the reasons behind why she hasn’t left the house in so long was quite a tough read. There are some hard topics dealt with within the pages of the novel and I feel Claire addressed them in a sensitive and respectful manner.

A character and story who will definitely stay with me for a long time, Meredith, Alone is out now from Penguin Michael Joseph. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

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