Books

FIVE DAYS GONE by Laura Cumming. Narrated by Kate Reading.

I don’t usually read memoir, as I normally don’t find it very interesting. And this quiet narrative of family strife would normally cause me not to continue due to boredom. But there was something that kept me going and enjoying this narrative until the very end. For one thing, it is very well told. The author chooses to cast the early part of the memoir through her mother’s eyes, the innocent protagonist around whom all these events swirl, who is kept in the dark about their significance. Gradually she shifts to her own point of view, as the concerned daughter of Grace Blanchard/Betty Elstead/Elizabeth Cumming.

I loved Kate Reading’s melodious voice, but at this point I wish she had done something to distinguish mother from daughter. Of course, we expect Laura to sound like her mother Elizabeth, but even so, the narrator could have accentuated the differences. For example, I sound very much like my sister. But I speak faster than she does. The unfortunate effect of this lack of distinctiveness between the voices of mother and daughter was that I kept being pulled up short, not sure who I was listening to.

I loved the ending of this memoir, even though it raised more questions. The man at the center of the love-triangle, George, is telling the absent mother Hilda that he loves her. So I could not help wondering if that meant that he was punishing himself by staying with Vida, the woman he was married to. Four stars.