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Baxter's Requiem
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Baxter's Requiem (Paperback)

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'The fact that this novel is so witty is incidental to how good it is - it has characters you care about deeply and a heart as big as a cathedral' Miles Jupp

Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know...

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things - raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur - but 'good patient' he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare - until he meets Gregory.

At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.

Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.

With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.

Baxter's Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we're here.

Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Publication Date: 06/09/2018 ISBN-13: 9781472153326  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Matthew Crow was born and raised in Newcastle. Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. He has written for adults and YA. His book My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.

More books by Matthew Crow

Customer Reviews

This is a lovely feel-good story about an elderly gentleman, Baxter, nearing the end of his life, and a young lad, Greg, just embarking on his. Each has suffered the painful loss of a much loved person, who died well before their time. For Baxter, it was the love of his life, who died during WWII. For Greg it was his younger brother, who committed suicide. They meet at the Melrose Gardens Retirement home, where Baxter is a rather unwilling inmate (‘It’s like practising being dead and paying for the privilege!’), and Greg is trying hard to cope with his first ever job, as a care assistant. Right at the start, Baxter is informed by his doctor that he is unlikely to last another year. At 94 years of age, Baxter is unperturbed by impending death, but there are two missions he sets himself to accomplish before his demise: first is to go to France and finally say goodbye to his lover, to ensure that he is never forgotten; second is to save Greg from the overwhelming grief, that threatens to blight his young life forever. Baxter’s romance was so beautifully captured, and it was plain to see what a traumatic effect the loss of his love had on Baxter’s subsequent life. Luckily, he had two very good friends to help him cope. Now, he wants to offer the same help to Greg – to show him that life can still be joyful, and not be just a dreary existence. Greg’s pain is obvious, not only to Baxter, but to both of his co-workers, Suzanne and Ramila: “That Greg was troubled was self-evident. His body and his mind operated on two separate planes – as if he were trying to navigate his own avatar with a faulty joystick”. Greg gets no respite at home, where his father is incapable of dealing with either his own grief – or that of his son. Currently, work is the only solace for both Greg and his father. Baxter’s plan to help Greg get off to a rocky start: “‘My ship’s sailed,’ Greg said flatly. ‘You’re eighteen years old,’ said Baxter with an exhausted smile. ‘Your ship hasn’t even been built yet’.” But with help from Suzanne’s friendly ear and Ramila’s flirting – not to mention the incorrigible Winnifred (one of Baxter’s dissolute elderly friends) – Greg slowly emerges from his shell. I loved this book. All the main and secondary characters are well developed, each with their own back stories, so that they quickly become real people, with whom you can empathise, and most of whom you would like to meet. You become fully invested in all of them, and need to know how their lives turn out. I particularly liked Ramila, who is nowhere near as shallow as she likes to make out. I highly recommend this book. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

- 27/08/2018
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