Monday, March 18, 2024

Book Review: The Last List of Mabel Beaumont

By Becky Gulc


Mabel Beaumont’s husband Arthur loved lists. He’d leave them for her everywhere. ‘Remember: eggs, butter, sugar’. ‘I love you: today, tomorrow, always’.

But now Arthur is gone. He died: softly, gently, not making a fuss. But he’s still left her a list. This one has just one item on it though: ‘Find D’.

Mabel feels sure she knows what it means. She must track down her best friend Dot, who she hasn’t seen since the fateful day she left more than sixty years ago.

It seems impossible. She doesn’t even know if Dot’s still alive. Also, every person Mabel talks to seems to need help first, with missing husbands, daughters, parents. Mabel finds her list is just getting longer, and she’s still no closer to finding Dot.

What she doesn’t know is that her list isn’t just about finding her old friend. And that if she can admit the secrets of the past, maybe she could even find happiness again…’ (Synopsis courtesy of Boldwood Books.)

The Last List of Mabel Beaumont is quite simply an exquisite book. I’d heard great things about this book on social media and I was intrigued. I’m not sure if I’ve read a novel before where the lead character is in their eighties and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. I was instantly drawn into the world of Mabel and her husband Arthur, peas in a pod at least on the surface. However Mabel’s narrative quickly reveals she’s never quite felt she’s been the wife Arthur deserves. I was drawn to Mabel’s inner conflict – on the one hand she’s very self-assured, this is how she is, she’s not going to change after all these years, on the other...well life events may just challenge the laissez-faire. 

Unbeknownst to Mabel, prior to Arthur’s death he arranged for a carer to come in and support Mabel in the months following his passing. Mabel doesn’t really like company, or help, so she doesn’t immediately warm to Julie, who now visits her every day. What follows is a joyful journey of friendship, loss, and hope which transcends different generations of women Mabel meets in the months following Arthur’s death. 

Mabel feels Arthur was suggesting she find her long lost friend Dot through the ‘Find D’ note she found, but this isn’t going to be easy – Mabel hasn’t seen or heard of Dot for 60+ years now although they were thick as thieves once upon a time. With some new friends on board all equally determined to help Mabel locate her friend, is it possible she will find Dot? There are definitely challenges on the journey to finding Dot, not least that every new friend Mabel makes needs her help (or she thinks they do!) in some way, Mabel’s to-do list keeps getting longer and longer!

I loved slowly learning about Mabel’s younger days and the pace worked well. Mabel is extremely well-rounded and real as a character, her story shows us all you’re never too old to change your ways and even live a little if you want to. I admired Mabel’s journey, I found her stubborn and selfish at times, but quite the opposite at other points and it all felt extremely natural. 

I shed a tear at several points in this book – but I love a book that makes me feel! It’s one that you’ll hug at the end in gratitude. I wasn’t quite ready to leave the world of Mabel Beaumont. Highly recommended.

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