Book group: Mother, by Nicholas Royle

We hear what readers think about a funny and touching memoir about mother-son relationships and the impact of Alzheimer’s.

You could do a lot worse than have your book recommended by one of Britain’s greatest living authors.

Hilary Mantel calls Nicholas Royle’s book Mother, ‘a moving and beautifully achieved memoir, and a testament to the writer’s skill and generosity of spirit.’

But what did our readers think? 

Something precious 

‘Mother leaves the reader with a feeling of intimacy,’ says Jessie Coupe, in our Publishing team.

‘It’s as though you’ve stumbled across a private letter, not meant to be shared. As intimate as a diary, you’re privy to cherished memories, which the author turns over like something precious in his hands. 

‘Royle’s reflections of his family life are shot through with humour and pain. Alzheimer’s takes his mother from him, but he focuses on all that she’s given him.’ 

Mother: A memoir, by Nicholas Royle

A reader says, ‘Mother is peppered with ditties and poems, illuminating a mother and son’s shared love of reading. 

‘The author’s wordplay and delight in her favourite phrases and their meaning reflects how reading tied them together throughout their lives.’ 

Cherished and valued 

Made up of short chapters that don’t run chronologically, the book shares how Nicholas’s mother’s speech begins to falter with the advance of dementia. 

‘He knows her as witty, strongminded, conversing with ease,’ says one reader. ‘So her struggle to finish sentences and wandering thoughts feels particularly cruel.’ 

Another pivotal moment is when the author’s mother fails to recognise him, making him question his own identity. After her death, Nicholas dreams about her as if she’s ‘quite recovered from her Alzheimer’s’. 

A reader responds, ‘The writer marvels that these dreams can bring an enduring joy as he remembers her, even if only for a few seconds. Remembering in this way is something to be cherished and valued.’ 

Mother: A memoir by Nicholas Royle (Myriad 2020), 224 pages, £8.99, ISBN: 9781912408573.

Get 30% off, with free UK postage and packing, when you order this from the publisher using the code ASM30. 

Your turn

We invite you to read Another cup of tea: Diary of a dementia carer by Martin Dewhurst (Panoma 2020), 232 pages, £14.99, ISBN: 9781784529093. Also available as an ebook.

Tell us what you think about this book, drawn from a son’s diary as his mother is in the later stages of vascular dementia. Email us by 7 September 2020 so we can share it in our next magazine.

Let us know

Dementia together magazine: Aug/Sept 20

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now

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