Sarah Pinborough - The Language of Dying
- Ally Nicholl
- 12 December 2013
This story of bereavement is by turns emotionally charged and irritatingly pretentious
(Jo Fletcher Books),
As a man slowly dies in a bed upstairs, his daughter must deal with her grief, her dysfunctional family and years of traumatic memories. The Language of Dying depicts the minutiae of her father’s final few days, revealing their shared past through the woman’s inner monologue.
This book is a frustrating read, sometimes emotionally charged and powerful, often pretentious and irritating. Heartbreaking moments and well-observed details are mixed with clunky symbolism and the lead character’s endless, inane musings. For example, she sees an old man in the supermarket and wonders whether his shuffling walk is due to age or ‘sheer soul-weariness’; she wonders about the profound meaning behind her sister’s every action, from tidying the house to having a bath; she wonders about the ivy on the garden wall and how it grew so fast.
The relationships between the various siblings are handled well, and much of it will ring true to anyone who has lost a loved one. Ultimately, however, the tedious prose may leave the reader cold.