I’m used to being transported to another era when I read a novel by Christoph Fischer. Set in England, his latest offering, Time to Let Go, transports the reader, not through the years, but into the lives of one family dealing with the splintered effects of Alzheimers.
I’ve lost several relatives and friends to this devastating disease. I’m familiar with the stages for the patient and the ramifications on the care givers. And so is Christoph Fischer in his portrayal of Biddy Korhonen and her family members dealing with her descent into Alzheimers.
Mr. Fischer shows the various ways individuals deal with the illness. There’s the husband Walter who depends upon the routine and regimen of a scheduled life to keep his wife from falling into a deeper stage. He can keep control of the situation to a certain extent, only as far as Biddy’s mind will allow it. Nothing can bring her back to the loving wife she’d always been. When he can’t control his wife’s failings, he absorbs himself in creating a book of family memories. He can control what is remembered and how much is revealed about the individuals who make up the Finnish branch of the Korhonen family.
Daughter Hanna uses the mother’s illness as a chance to come home and hide out from the realities of her life as an airline stewardess when things go horribly wrong on her last flight. Her casual attitude toward schedules and regimens clashes with her father’s grip on his life with Biddy. Hanna runs into problems with this casualness, yet there are times when Biddy seems so happy with the change.
It’s all here in this novel, and it’s done in such a way that the reader is caught up in the lives of the Krohonen’s and rooting for the family to finally communicate with one another before it’s too late. I found myself agreeing with both sides in the debate on how to handle Biddy’s situation. Since I’ve seen the terrific toll Alzhemiers takes, I understand the complicated feelings and situations that arise. Mr. Fischer handles it deftly and with sympathy for both Hanna and Walter and Biddy. No one is right, and no one is wrong.
As he does with his historical novels set in the first half of the twentieth century in eastern Europe, Mr. Fischer manages to bring in the prejudices of a generation raised with biases toward people of different religions, races, and ideologies. It’s not an indictment of older generations, but it is a reality best met with honesty and acceptance.
Thank you, Christoph Fischer, for once again bringing us a work of fiction that asks us to examine our beliefs and open our minds to honest communication with those we love the most.
To purchase Time to Let Go, click on the cover below.
Disclosure: I was given an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.