I am delighted to be sharing my review for Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow with you today. I was lucky to win a copy of this book on a Giveaway run by the fabulous Anne Cater on her blog at Random Things Through My Letterbox.
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 grudgily 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.
What a stunning book Baxter’s Requiem is! Meeting the character that is Baxter was memorable. A grumpy old man on the outside but with a wonderful wit and a huge heart on the inside! Greg is again another wonderful character, he is quiet and withdrawn in an almost moody way. With over 70 years separating these two there are bound to be differences but, actually not that many!
Both Greg and Baxter have personal stories in them. They are kept close and they almost protect them from the outside world. They are precious memories that they have built up and I can understand this almost secretive shield they have around them.
When Baxter and Greg meet it is at the care home that Baxter has been sent to recover from a fall. Baxter sees Greg as something more than quiet and withdrawn, he sees sorrow and pain. Baxter believes that he can help Greg somehow and so the process of building up a friendship and a bond begins.
It is not only Greg that needs help, Baxter does from a care point, but Baxter has something else in mind. He wants desperatley to go to France, it is something that means so much to him. So without realsining it Greg needs Baxter to help him to be able to live his life and break free of what holds him back. Baxcter needs Greg to break out and fulfil a heartbreaking promise to the man he loved.
I read this book 3 weeks ago and it is only now that I am coming back to my paper notes and what I thought. I have a lump in throat as I type this up, it reminds me how beautiful and poignant this story was. It shows that life can be so fragile and fleeting and also so full of love.
I loved the emotions that the author brought out of me with Baxter’s Requiem, smilrking at some of the one liners from Baxter only for the realisation that life has an expiry date. Care homes are often referred to as “Gods waiting room” but in Baxter’s case he sees them as “practising being dead and paying for the privalige”. This cracked me up and then the reality of what he said…
Sadness and a sort of melancholy was what I expected before I began this book. But then I found that it was heartwarming, moving, funny and yes there is sadness and heartbreak. but, this book wasn’t about that. This was a story that showed me a life lived, a life loved, a life apart and a life to come.
If you after a gorgeous, stunning, beautiful read then you seriously need to read this book. It get a Highly Recommended from Me!
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx