My enormous thanks to LoveReading and Avon Books for allowing me to read The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins in return for an honest review. I have been turning down books as I have so many on my TBR but I’d heard such good things about The Forgotten Guide to Happiness that I couldn’t resist and I’m so pleased to have my review today.
The Forgotten Guide to Happiness is published by Harper Collins imprint Avon and is available for purchase here.
The Forgotten Guide To Happiness
Sometimes, happiness can be found where you least expect it…
Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself.
Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.
When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?
My Review of The Forgotten Guide to Happiness
When you’re trying to write a love story, maybe the best way is to live it!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Forgotten Guide to Happiness.
I loved the plot and although it’s relatively simple it is so satisfying to read because not only does it have a lovely romantic heart, the conceit of writing as a catalyst for the book is perfectly handled, so that it is actually a very useful book for aspiring writers as well as a warm, compassionate and engaging story.
Lana is a hugely appealing protagonist. She is flawed, insecure and totally human. Once or twice I found myself telling her ‘No! Don’t DO that’ because I cared about what happened to her. Her search for a sequel to her novel Love Crazy, her self blindness at times and her very human need for love all make her feel like a real person.
However, it is Nancy who steals the book for me. Sophie Jenkins has shown so realistically and sensitively that those suffering dementia are still people and Nancy embodies true identity through her confusion, her larger than life personality and her love of colour. Her speech adds such humour in the story so that whilst I felt sorry that she was suffering the disease, I felt uplifted and positive too. What is so cleverly done is the message that Nancy can remember what really is important in life whereas those not suffering her dementia don’t always have the same skill of recollection.
I also loved the themes present that lift The Forgotten Guide to Happiness above being simply a very entertaining read. The way society behaves towards and treats the vulnerable, the way love and identity are universal concerns, and the fact that truth is sometimes staring us in the face when we don’t want to recognise it, all shine through Sophie Jenkins’ smashing writing.
The Forgotten Guide to Happiness is such a lovely book. It has unexpected depth as well as a lightness of touch so that it’s a perfectly balanced and wonderful read. I loved it.
About Sophie Jenkins
Sophie Jenkins is a serial joiner of writing groups and workshops and a prolific short story writer. To encourage her creativity she regularly enters half-marathons and trains by running from her home in North London to breakfast in the centre of town with a notepad.
The character of Nancy in The Forgotten Guide to Happiness is based on her experiences with her own mother, who was diagnosed with dementia fifteen years ago.
You an follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiejenkinsuk.