Oh Dear Silvia: The gloriously heartwarming novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Because of You
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There is some funny parts in this book that will make you laugh out loud, and the characters themselves are very interesting, but there is just something about this book that is missing. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but the familial relationships in the story I found were incredibly moving towards the end.
Whilst I did find him to be a well-developed character, I found him extremely dull and found myself wishing that he'd just stop talking. Some aspects I would rate very highly, and towards the end of the book, I was shouting internally that it couldn't possibly end satisfactorily (but it actually did, sort of, I think). I knew that the novel was supposed to be quite morbid but I imagined that with Dawn French behind the keyboard, there was sure to be level of humour, and in this I suppose I wasn't wrong.Some of the characters felt a little too bonkers and I was worried the book would end up feeling forced with these character-based chapters. Instead what I got was the tale of a complex woman, one misunderstood by almost everyone in her life, told through the visitors to her hospital room, where she lies in a coma. As the story unfolds, we learn that each of these people has a different view of who Silvia Shute is and what she means to them differs vastly.
I’m betting there are some really comical as well as serious thoughts coming from each of these visitors. Her past holds a dark and terrible secret, and now that she is unconscious in a hospital bed, her constant stream of visitors are set to uncover the mystery of her broken life. The difficult thing with Winnie was that her perspective was written in heavy Jamaican dialect which made it very slow to read and understand fully.Now, I have to definitely read this book to see if “Dear Silvia” comes out of her coma and if she has overheard remarks that her visitors wish she hadn’t! I couldn't fully understand why Tia was there as a character because she had no real emotional connection with her employer and therefore it seemed odd that she would be visiting her in hospital. I didn’t like many of the characters apart from Winnie and Cassie (and Willow), but it was interesting to read how their stories interacted as they talked with Silvia - their friend, ex-wife, employer, mother and patient - who was in intensive care in a coma. Un vantaggio però c'è, nella solitudine, e cioè che attraverso di lei tutto acquista un fascino particolare.
And indeed, this novel is very different from "A tiny bit marvellous"; so much so that you feel slightly confused in the beginning.
As is quite common in French's writing, “Oh Dear Silvia” is quite simple to read but is grounded in reality with a number of life's hard truths contained amongst the often humorous prose. It is also about relationships and family, huge focus on both, with Sylvia being in a coma, all the characters address all their issues with her in a very honest and raw emotive way. The threads of all the different stories come together to a satisfactory and quite bittersweet conclusion. You take farewell of the characters like they are good friends (it really feels like they are) and even if it's a bit painful, you know it's time to let go.