Friday 13th March 2020

Even the longest marriages have their secrets . . .

Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.

All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.

When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.

Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.

Published by Picador / Pan Macmillan on 5 March 2020, 272 pages

This is the story of an elderly couple who’s son wants them to move into a home. It tells the tale of their life now with snippets of their past woven in to reveal dark secrets. This was an understated yet compelling read.

Jack takes a daily walk to a cafe where, one day, he meets Marinela. As the story develops you can see parallels between Bet and Marinela and you begin to have more of an understanding for each character because of it.

This is definitely not what I was expecting, I think I went in thinking this would be a funny, heart warming read – it wasn’t – it was so much more. This was a real and gritty look at what life is like for the elderly living amongst us and of how strong love for another can be. It also challenges the idea of what people call home and shows that what is one man’s home is another man’s castle.

Thanks to @annecater & @picadorbooks / Pan Macmillan

Sarah Butler is the acclaimed author of two previous novels, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and Before the Fire. Her writing has been translated into fourteen languages. She is also the author of a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation. Sarah is a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and lives in Manchester with her family.

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