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Book of the Week

May 19, 2024

I think I just finished my favorite book of 2024!  Susan Fletcher’s The Night in Question (2024) features 87-year old Florrie Butterfield. This is a mystery and Florrie’s life story.  Florrie lives at Babbington Hall, a senior living facility in Oxfordshire, England.  Early in the book, Renata Green, the manager of Babbington Hall falls to her death and Florrie witnesses it.  Convinced that Renata was pushed, Florrie decides to investigate.

Woven within Florrie’s investigation is Florrie’s own remarkable life story.  We learn of her childhood growing up with her flighty, lovable mother and her kind, loving father (a constable), her beloved brother, Bobs, and her best friend, Pinky.  Florrie relates the story of her world travels and her frequent return to the little village where she grew up.  This beautifully written book is so poignant – make sure to have tissues handy.  Here are a few of my favorite passages: 

“It’s what friends do.  Florrie knows that now.  The most loving of friends will do anything.  They will guard one’s secret with knives and sticks and stones.  They will lie.  They will steal.  They will visit that friend in a cold, grey building with barred windows and clutch their scarred, bleeding hands and say, It will be all right, I will get you out of here.  They won’t mind when the friend sinks down on the floor of Paddington Station at rush hour saying, Oh God, oh God, as Florrie had done. Pinky had settled down beside her, taken Florrie’s hand.  They’d sat there, on Paddington concourse with commuters moving around them like water, whilst Pinky said, over and over, ‘Don’t Worry, Butters.  We’ll be all right.  I’m here.’”

Speaking of her lifelong friendship with Pinky:

“They knew and shared everything, every part of their lives: marriages, births and funerals, sherbert lemons and bottles of wine. They shared dancing to Elvis in Pinky’s kitchen, swimming in a midnight loch, the cancer diagnosis that brought Florrie down from Scotland to that same spare room with its pansy wallpaper to be near the best friend she’d had in all the world.  All the wild laughter.  All those gifted days.”

Florrie’s life takes many twists and turns and as the book progresses, we quickly realize that in addition to the mystery of Renata’s fall, is the mystery at the center of Florrie’s life, some kind of terrible secret.  Highly, highly recommend.

Oh, and I’ve already cast the movie.  Nicola Coughlin as the young Florrie and Dame Judi Dench as today’s Florrie and absolutely, Bill Nighy as Stanhope Jones.  You heard it here first!

 Currently reading: Harlan Coben, Think Twice (2024)

Up next: Agatha Christie, The ABC Murders (1936)

Kaizen’s Weekly Pick: Christopher Myers, Black Cat (1999).  Kaizen loves this book because it rhymes and the black cat is all different sizes in very colorful collages.

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