Lyrics for the Loved Ones by Anne Goodwin

My grateful thanks to Anne Goodwin for sending me a copy of her latest book Lyrics for the Loved Ones in return for an honest review. It’s my pleasure to share that review today.

Lyrics for the Loved Ones is published today, 15th May 2023 by Annecdotal Press and is available for purchase here.

Lyrics for the Loved Ones

After half a century confined in a psychiatric hospital, Matty has moved to a care home on the Cumbrian coast. Next year, she’ll be a hundred, and she intends to celebrate in style. Yet, before she can make the arrangements, her ‘maid’ goes missing.

Irene, a care assistant, aims to surprise Matty with a birthday visit from the child she gave up for adoption as a young woman. But, when lockdown shuts the care-home doors, all plans are put on hold.

But Matty won’t be beaten. At least not until the Black Lives Matter protests burst her bubble and buried secrets come to light.

Will she survive to a hundred? Will she see her ‘maid’ again? Will she meet her long-lost child?

Rooted in injustice, balanced with humour, this is a bittersweet story of reckoning with hidden histories in cloistered times.

My Review of Lyrics for the Loved Ones

Matty is heading towards her hundredth birthday.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Anne Godwin’s writing and I did find settling into the narrative and working out the initial relationships took me some time to distinguish. I think it would be best to read Stolen Summers and Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home before Lyrics for the Loved Ones

However, I was immediately impressed by the author’s ability to convey exactly what her characters are thinking and feeling. Equally skilful is the use of dialect to create both setting and character. I thought it was inspired to include a glossary of Cumbrian words, although they are woven so brilliantly into the book that their meaning is actually clear without it. I loved the way details provide vivid settings too, especially though Matty’s eyes.

From the very beginning Anne Goodwin presents vibrant personalities whose voices resonate with the reader. This has the effect of enhancing the reader’s own response and there were moments where I felt rather emotional. I think it’s the social and political aspects such as the effect of the Covid pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement with the murky historical background of slavery and racism peppering Matty’s life that felt so raw and occasionally too close to today’s supposedly enlightened reality for comfort. I found that whilst Matty’s personality adds a lightness, especially when she is contemplating her  perceived servants and the other ‘rezzies’ in the home, the echoes of real life around her add depth and resonance too. I felt that at the heart of Lyrics for the Loved Ones was a real sense of the need to belong and make meaningful relationships.

I haven’t read the first two books outlining Matty’s life, but Lyrics For The Loved Ones has made me want to find out more because this book is a mature, sensitive portrayal of a life equally squandered and well lived, so that Anne Goodwin makes you take a long hard look at your own achievements and what you might want to do in your remaining time. Be prepared; there are light and humorous moments, but Lyrics for the Loved Ones lays bare humanity and provides much food for occasionally uncomfortable thought and it’s all the more rewarding as a result.  

About Anne Goodwin

Anne Goodwin’s drive to understand what makes people tick led to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.

Anne writes about the darkness that haunts her and is wary of artificial light. She makes stuff up to tell the truth about adversity, creating characters to care about and stories to make you think. She explores identity, mental health and social justice with compassion, humour and hope.

A prize-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.

Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of award-winning short stories.

For more information about Anne visit her website, follow her on Twitter @Annecdotist, or find her on Instagram or Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Lyrics for the Loved Ones by Anne Goodwin

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