Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for the truly wonderful Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler.
A moving, funny and uplifting novel about an elderly couple,
the son who is trying desperately to care for them and the young
woman who will change their lives forever.
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.
Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.
This was such a wonderful, heart-warming and moving read. I adored every, single page. Sarah writes beautifully. Her characters brought to life from the very first page. There there was something incredibly endearing and moving about Jack, Bet and the people who are part of their story. Even after 70 years a person can still surprise, heart and move you to tears. Their story is ordinary in many ways and yet so beautifully unique. I say ordinary but it made me realise that there really isn’t any such thing as an ‘ordinary life’, we each have our own story to tell – no matter how much we feel it is the same old same old. I have always believed that we can learn something from our elders, their experiences, their mistakes and Jack & Bet only serve to confirm that. Watching them in the last years of their lives, after 70 years of marriage, I became very fond of them and there were times when I was moved to tears. They survived so much together, each hiding their own disappointments and frustrations – isn’t that something we all do. One thing that touched me most was the way Jack still saw the beauty in Bet, exactly as she was there and then. She only sees wrinkles and an old, tired face but he sees the beauty in those lines, in the woman he loves – still, after all this time. It is often hard to let go of the past and Sarah portrays the mix of feelings perfectly. Older people often become invisible but inside them, just like Jack & Bet, there are stories of a life lived. Life and love is precious no matter how long it has been on this earth. Thankfully. there are always those, like Marinela, who take the time to stop and see them, to hear their stories.
This is one such beautifully told story and I don’t want to give away their secrets, so do pay Jack & Bet a visit and read their story for yourself. It will be time very well spent indeed.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and to Picador Books for my review copy. This has been one of my top reads so far this year. An absolute delight and perfect for readers who enjoy authors such as Rachel Joyce.
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.