Keeper: A Book About Memory, Identity, Isolation, Wordsworth and Cake

by Andrea Gillies

I ordered this book from the library, having read about it from a comment on the FutureLearn course on dementia.  The book is told by a woman whose family decides to take in her parents-in-law and care for them, moving the entire family to a large house in a remote corner of Scotland, where they run a B and B.

The mother-in-law has dementia and the father-in-law has very limited mobility.  The idea that they might be able to build a happy family home, in such a situation, seems hopelessly naive.  In the event, of course, the project fails, and after coping with a great deal of stress, navigating their way around the professional agencies, and learning a great deal about dementia, the family moves the elderly couple into a care home.  They visit rarely, choosing to get on with their lives and leave the professionals to care for the parents.

The storytelling was heartfelt, but also not particularly well constructed, in my view.  I was hoping that the book would either tell a good story, or bring me fresh insights.  It did neither.  The language was often clunky and repetitive.  I skim-read as much of the book as I could take, and returned it to the library quickly.