Ruth is 75, a widow who, with her two grown sons living overseas , lives alone in an isolated beach house. Ruth values her independence but struggles to maintain it against severe back pain and growing mental confusion.
Later in the day a stranger knocks at her door and announces she has been sent by the authorities to be Ruth's carer. Frida is capable and efficient and in no time takes control of Ruth's life. Ruth likes her company, thinks she looks Fijian and is drawn back into the childhood she spent in Fiji.
While The Night Guest has a strong element of suspense that makes it read like a thriller at times it is actually a story about aging. A story of loss and the need to be loved, of fear, confusion and trust. It confronts questions concerning the care of our elderly and on whose shoulders the responsibilities should fall.
The writing is stunning and I was amazed that someone as young as Fiona McFarlane was able to have such insight and understanding of dementia. I've since learned that both her grandmothers suffered and she wanted ' to write respectfully and unsentimentally about this.'
The Night Guest had a huge emotional impact on me. My heart ached with an awful sense of foreboding all the way through - I was sad, I was angry and I was reminded of my mother's last years.
It was disturbing and unsettling but.....I loved it!
Interview with Fiona McFarlane