Book Review: The Last Best Thing
Author: Kate Sebeny
Personal Quality Rating: 3
Reviewer: Yvette van Niekerk (South Africa)
This Novella is written using the setting of the farm in Iowa. A short story not more than 84 pages starts off with a statement from Sam. The characters in the story are all in the retired years, people that have come together due to circumstances.
Betty’s daughter Libby comes to live with her mother to help with her ageing father who suffers from Alzheimer’s and Betty’s friends Sam and Sarah and Joe. The story takes a turn when one of the characters needs help in committing suicide. This happens suddenly and to be honest I didn’t expect it from this person as they supposedly loved the other person.
A lot of bantering takes place which makes the story enjoyable to read. Then a twist in the story takes place when someone turns up that the farm house inquiring about the deceased person.
Social / Historical Context:
The normal day-to-day living in a very tight community of no more than 5 people and what they do and talk about. It was amazing to see how these old folk adjusted and helped each other. They seemed to be living life as it presented itself to them. I felt the hardship they were facing and yet it was not that difficult as they had each other comradely.
It reminded me of my mom in some way the way she is ageing and how thin she too was. The way they coupe with matters and be what they are there and then.
The writing style to my mind is common place. It narrated a relationship with each other out of circumstances and friendships. The writer seems to understand the ageing process and has sympathy with the characters.
It narrates a group of elderly people living together due to circumstance beyond their control.
The story depicted a telling of ageing people, circumstances that made for an unforeseen decision on a suicide or was it a murder or was it euthanasia? The person that assisted with the act of taking care of this persons dilemma didn’t consider their own conscience and the impact of their decision later on.
As fiction I think was very close to real life experience and the problems that elderly people face with sickness and misfortune.
Betty and Gary with a daughter Libby are portrayed in the beginning of the story; two of the characters go through to the end of the story and an unexpected romance comes into play. Sam and Sarah with Joe and some doggies are friends with Betty. A murder, suicide or euthanasia happens and the person who assisted with the act becomes senile and starts speaking to the dead person. What a tragedy. A friend who comes from Amsterdam to live in Iowa and someone that pops into these people’s lives looking for the deceased person. Something no-one considered.