Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander was published recently. I’d heard good things about it, so was pleased to find it in Sainsbury’s for only £6. I ended up reading it much sooner and quicker (under 24 hours) than expected, as I was in isolation with Covid.
Meredith is 39 and lives in Glasgow. She hasn’t left her home in 1,214 days. She isn’t alone, because she has her cat, Fred, for company. Her friend Sadie pops in and she chats to the Tesco delivery man. She works and she keeps herself busy with jigsaws, baking and cleaning. So she really has no need to leave her house.
But will her new friends, Tom and Celeste, plus her estranged sister, Fiona, and her counsellor, Diane, help her see things differently? Can Meredith leave her home after so long and start to rebuild her life?
Meredith, Alone covers a period of just under a year in Meredith’s life. Told entirely from Meredith’s points of view, each chapter is dated and numbered eg Day 1,231 Saturday 1 December 2018. For each entry, Meredith recounts what happens that day, but sometimes also reflects on incidents from the past.
There are also proper flashbacks from earlier years – from childhood right through to a couple of years before the main part of the story. From these, we build up a picture of Meredith’s life and what led to her not leaving her home. It’s clear she was very close to her sister as a child and that their mother was abusive towards them. Meredith feels younger than her years. She is sad and damaged, but loving and wants the best for other people. As a reader, I wanted the best for her too.
I predict Meredith, Alone will be a big hit this year. If you are looking for a hopeful and moving read, I can really recommend it.