Thursday 2 March 2017

The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin

Published by Black and White Publishing on February 23, 2017

Sometimes you can be drawn to a book without entirely knowing why. The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days was one of those books for me. Although the blurb sounds completely fascinating, this is not the kind of book I normally read and the length of the book is a bit longer than someone like me with a million books to read would then choose to read. But like I say, there was really just something about this book that drew me in and I knew I had to read this book. I knew Alfred Warner was a character I had to meet, and honestly I am so glad I picked up this book because Alfred is one of the most exceptional characters I have ever read about.

Alfred is nearly eighty years of age, and the voices in his head are telling him he only has six days left to live. Which is why, when his granddaughter doesn’t show up on the day he is supposed to be meeting her for the first time, he knows he has to find another way of telling her the story of his life, which contains a secret that will impact on her life forever. It took me about half a page maximum before I knew Alfred was a character who was going to keep me on my toes throughout eager to learn more about him and the life he has lived. There are interesting characters and then there is Alfred, a person who has lived one heck of a life which had me absolutely captivated, practically glued to the pages, as we unfold the layers of his character and the amazing stories he has to tell.

This is a book that captured my heart. It had me feeling every emotion under the sun. I laughed and I shed tears and I found parts to be heart-breaking and other parts to be thoroughly heart-warming. I smiled at the happy moments of his life and sympathised with him at others. Alfred has lived such a life that, despite me not normally having an attention span that will keep me reading a book longer then about 400 pages, made me want a book about double that size because I believed he had lived a life with so many more stories to tell.

Juliet Conlin has really written such a wonderful character in Alfred, but there were two other characters in this book that I enjoyed getting to know as well. The first one was Julia, a woman who lets Alfred into her home and befriends him through her concern. She isn’t the most pivotal character in this book but I really warmed to her straight away as her caring nature was really appealing. She listened to Alfred and cared for his stories, and I found her a really genuine, likeable character. Then there is Brynja, Alfred’s granddaughter, who I found to be really engaging too. I was fascinated by her character from the moment she is first supposed to meet Alfred but doesn’t. Though this is Alfred’s story to tell, the other characters helped to make this book what it is, an incredibly touching and unmissable treat of a novel.

The structure of this book is an unusual one which I thought I would find difficult to get into and yet I found it the complete opposite. The format of the six days of the story sees the book switch in perspective between Alfred, Julia and Brynja, whilst the chapters switch between the various and utterly absorbing experiences that Alfred has lived. Ranging from tales of the Holocaust to tales of his marriage and family life, the storytelling in this book covers multiple locations and multiple decades and there was not one single part of Alfred Warner’s life that did not move me. The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days is absolutely fantastic, and truly a book you simply must read.

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