The stars are not yet bells by Hannah Lillith Assadi

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Woven into this story of lost dreams, lost love and shattered memories is the story of an aging woman, Elle, whose life is now waiting for the end. In the tangle of the final mosaic of memories is the story of her family background, her romance with Gabriel, the ‘arranged’ marriage with Simon (a man with his own forbidden loves) and the life they shared while Simon was searching for an underwater blue ‘gem’, that sparkled elusively off their island off the South-eastern coast of the USA. This is a sad tale filled with melancholy and there is no sold ground because memories slip and slide and are spun in the maelstrom of the blue-wash of depression and dementia.

This is an adult tale that has a confounding quality because of the telling through the voice of the central character battling with depressive dementia. With no straightforward chronology there is a montage-quality with small clips of varying pieces of history floating through the seasons of the latter days of Elle’s life. Her inability to recognise her family and her current circumstances at times creates timeslips and journeys into the past. This then weaves with past electrotherapy treatments to create a psychological and broken storyline. Although there is a lyrical and symbolic quality to the writing that is beautiful, the story itself is sad and requires some maturity.

Themes: Dementia, Memories, Romance, Mental illness.

Carolyn Hull