points - Details)
When her husband left her with a baby, a toddler and a fledgling business, Francesca managed–she wasn’t always gentle or patient, but the business thrived and Chris and Angelina had food to eat. At nearly 70, she feels she’s earned a peaceful retirement. But when a massive stroke leaves her voiceless, partially paralyzed and wholly reliant on the staff of an extended care facility, it seems her freedom is lost. However, Francesca is still clear-headed and sharp, and she knows one thing: she wants to live. She savours her view of a majestic chestnut tree through the hospital window, and speaks in her mind to her beloved friend Anna, dead for two years. The daily tasks and dramas of the rotating crew of care aides tether her to the world: Young Lily, eager to fall in love and regularly falling apart when things don’t work out; Michiko, with her spiky hair and tattoos and wicked sense of humour; Molly, endlessly kind and skilled in her work; Blaire, cold and enigmatic. Amidst the indignities of bed baths and a feeding tube, Francesca is surprised to experience flashes of hilarity and joy, even the blossoming of a new friendship with a fellow patient. But as she reflects to Anna on her dutiful son and her troubled and absent daughter, regrets and painful realizations rise to the surface. For the first time, there is nowhere for Francesca to hide from her own choices, and she must reckon with her past before it’s too late.
A Funny Kind of Paradise is a warm and insightful novel about one woman’s opportunity for reinvention–for unconditional love, acceptance and closure–in the unlikeliest of places.