Published (e book) 2011
What we did on our Holiday by John Harding
Thirty-something’s Nick and Laura have been married for ten years and things aren’t going well. Her biological clock is ticking away and she wants children while he doesn’t. He feels a child would be just one responsibility too many. Nick’s problem is his parents. He’s devoted to them of course, but sometimes even he finds his patience wearing a little thin which in turn brings on the guilt. But they are rather a handful. They’re conservative, highly eccentric and increasingly infirm. His Mum’s so enormously overweight that her heart’s now a bit dicky and she is certainly no longer up to looking after Dad by herself. He’s got Parkinson’s disease – not the shaking kind, as Mum’s always reminding people.
The title of this book is evocative of school essays after the summer break, when children are made to make their holiday interesting enough to make a story. This book however is one of the most interesting I have read for a very long time. The characters are really well done and the pace of the story is just right to keep you reading, in my case, without many pauses, to the very end.
The book description perhaps gives away too much information, but there are enough surprises in the plot. there are lovable main characters and also some very good peripheral characters i.e. the four nylon track suited neighbours in differing colours, and Anthony’s bitchy girlfriend.
The initial reason for the holiday is that it is a present from Nick and Laura to Nick’s parents, then the secondary purpose is added, as there is another son of Nick’s father born as a result of a liaison before his marriage, in Malta during the war, and they now want to find him. In the end they find out a lot, but not quite what they were looking for.
The subject of the father’s Parkinson’s and the care needed is portrayed in a very practical and straightforward way. There are tragic and also hilarious moments of misunderstandings and miscommunication, and lots of detailed description of the personal care needed for someone disabled which might be an eye-opener for some people. There is also a great feeling of love in this family and the book has a very satisfactory ending. I would highly recommend this book.