Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Saving Missy by Beth Morrey which was published in paperback on 4th March 2021. It’s also available in hardback, ebook and audiobook format. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour and to Harper Collins for my digital review copy via NetGalley.
About the Book
Prickly. Stubborn. Terribly lonely. But everyone deserves a second chance…
Missy Carmichael’s life has become small. Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock. Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something different. A new life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity.
But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?
Format: Paperback (400 pages) Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: 4th March 2021 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find Saving Missy on Goodreads
Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops
The story of Missy’s current, rather empty daily life is interspersed with memories of her first meeting with her husband, Leo, at Cambridge in 1956, their subsequent marriage and their life together bringing up their son, Alistair and daughter, Melanie. For various reasons, Missy now finds herself living alone in her ‘barren old house’. As she recalls, ‘It seemed like my whole life had been a cacophony, a constant buzzing and background chatter, and then Leo went and there was suddenly total and absolute stillness. Stillness, and silence and space.’ That silence and stillness is ended thanks to a chance encounter in her local park with the irrepressible Sylvie which sees Bob the dog come into Missy’s life, opening up a whole new world of connections, including a new friend, Angela, and Angela’s son Otis.
The book is full of lovely touches of humour, such as Missy’s thoughts on the reading of poetry aloud (the occasion of her first meeting with Leo), ‘Like religion and Bongo Boards, best practised in private’. Or Bob’s habit of barking when anyone approaches the house, making her (yes, Bob is a she) ‘less of a guard dog and more of a very loud doorbell’. I also loved the description of the numerous objects in Missy’s attic as ‘the leftovers of lost lives’.
The book has some wonderful set pieces, such as Missy’s participation in a pub quiz team at which the prize, much to Angela’s delight, includes a signed Jeremy Corbyn colouring book (this is 2016 after all), and a dash across London in the quest for the perfect birthday cake, facilitated by Sylvie’s seemingly inexhaustible list of contacts. Perhaps my favourite was the Christmas Day party at Sylvie’s house, to which Missy reluctantly accepts an invitation, reminding me a little of when Scrooge finally accepts his nephew’s invitation to join their festivities in A Christmas Carol. Looking around at Sylvie interacting with her guests, Missy realises that, although filled with happiness for much of the time, her life with Leo was rather insular. ‘We existed in our own bubble, floating along without ever really being bothered enough to probe deeper or – heaven forbid – pierce our protective film.’ Missy comes to recognise that it’s people who truly like themselves who have the greatest capacity for friendship and that this involves letting others in and accepting help when it’s offered.
I’m sure I won’t be the only reader to fall in love with Missy. Not that she’s perfect or hasn’t made mistakes in her life. However, I felt she had a tendency to undersell herself. For example, she’s thoughtful and generous when it comes to choosing gifts for others and has a natural rapport with children. For me, the discovery of the true extent of Missy’s courage and devotion created the perfect ending to the book.
In three words: Tender, heart-warming, uplifting
Try something similar: The Widow’s Mite by Allie Cresswell
About the Author
Beth Morrey is currently Creative Director at RDF Television where she has been involved in numerous productions. She helped create The Secret Life of Four Year Olds series for Channel 4 and devised 100 Year Old Drivers for ITV. She was shortlisted for the Grazia-Orange First Chapter competition back in 2011, had her work published in the Cambridge and Oxford May Anthologies, and was Vice-President of the Cambridge Footlights. Beth lives in London with her husband, two sons and dog.