The Misremembered Man – Christina McKenna
The Misremembered Man is a captivating and very endearing story of 2 mature people dealing with a harsh past, a lonely present and a hope for a renewed future. Jamie McCloone and Lydia Devine are, both strangers, both seeking companionship, and both hoping for something meaningful in their autumn years. They find themselves increasingly alone as family and friends move on or pass away. There is a very sad underlying history and vulnerability with Jamie, particularly as his childhood was spent in an Irish orphanage with all its brutality and abuse. Jamie is a rough-cut farmer, honest and hardworking but socially awkward. Lydia is a school teacher, precise, polished and well-spoken, and carer to her elderly mother.
Lydia needs a partner for a wedding and decides against all logic to advertise in the paper. Jamie who has been coaxed into looking into the newspaper’s Lonely Hearts section sees the advert and decides to respond. His first attempt at a response, before his friends get hold of it, is hilarious, and the black humour is always prevalent throughout the book. Their first meeting was a bit of a shock but there was something really touching and absorbing about him despite his appearance in yellow shoes. The Northern Ireland (Norn Iron) slang is not something you’ll meet too often but you just can’t help reading with a smile on your face as the dialogue is really funny.
The social connections between the characters are very keenly observed and Jamie’s reflections back to the orphanage, are treated with a lighter touch than what may have been expected. I felt that approach was more appropriate for this story and maybe more poignant for it.
The story is not a complex tale and the plot is pretty straightforward but there is a lot of fun journeying through this story. There is a final twist when Lydia’s mother dies and leaves her a life-shattering revelation in a letter. Serendipity is one of life’s mysteries but with it comes a chance and a sense of hope.