The May meeting of Muse & Views was hosted by Shirley. Present were Carla, Colette, Jane, Janet, Linda, Michèle, Sharon and Shirley. Shirley prepared a wonderful picnic for us with vegetable, cheese and salami skewers and tea chicken sandwiches. For dessert she prepared her wonderful lemon pot de crème (you can find the recipe here at the end of the post) and she presented wonderful "picnic cookies" made by a friend. Of course we had the usual wine and tea.
This month's book presented by Linda was Flee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn. Ms. Hepburn is a Canadian poet and author. This is her first novel. She comes from Port Dover, Ontario, the best place in Ontario for fish and chips according to two of our members!
The story is about two elderly women, Lillian and Audrey who live with Alzheimers in a home for seniors in Ottawa. Lillian is particularly tired of the boring life she lives, everything being a routine from when she can eat, what she can eat, when she can sleep and even when, as she says, she can poop! They decide together to go on a vacation and plot how they will get out without being noticed, how they can get a car and money. Once they have a car, it does not take them long to realize that they have no way of knowing how to get out of the city and what road to take to eventually get to the west coast. They meet a young homeless man and Audrey convinces him to drive them west. The story is their adventures as they drive out towards the mountains.
It does not happen often that everyone loves a book we read. We all felt that the main characters, Lillian, Audrey and the young man Rayne as they call him are well developed. Several parts of the book are Lillian's thoughts, her struggles to concentrate and remember who she is with, where she is and what she must remember. She keeps a notebook and writes in notes to hopefully help her, "vacation", "taxi phone number", anything that she think will help jog her memory. It was a realistic portrayal of thoughts helping us understand what is in a person's head, it was well done.
There were some parts that made us giggle, many parts and the book in general that made us sad. There were some very poignant periods. As we each talked about our impressions of the book, most of us could relate to the story because of persons we knew who are or had lived with dementia. It is evident that it is quite prevalent in today's society and since the "baby boomers" are now pretty well over 60, it will become more relevant to us all.
Many of us reflected on the life we subject our seniors to in homes. We discussed different innovative living arrangements that are being tried here in Canada and elsewhere. In the Netherlands there is Hogeweyk, a "dementia village" that allows clients with dementia to have a more normal life while still being properly supervised.
An excellent choice Linda, one that we all liked and one that gave us the opportunity for discussion.