A brilliant follow-up to Hidden Lives, Margaret Forster's most personal book yet takes up the story of her gritty, northern father, Arthur, intertwined with that of her sister-in-law, Marion, who died of cancer at almost half the age of the 96 year-old Arthur.
Margaret Forster's father was not a man to answer questions - least of all questions about life and death, so she attempts to answer them for herself. As Forster looks back at Arthur's life and indomitable character, she evokes incidents from her childhood, his working life and stubborn old age, trying to make sense of their largely unspoken relationship, and of his tenacious hold on life, and on his family.
Arthur and Marion's lives were ordinary, and apparently unremarkable, but, when faced with death, lives like these become strangely precious.
I have great admiration for Margaret Forster's ability to fashion absorbing tales of family life from the most ordinary people in Precious Lives... Her insistence on validating the domestic, combined with her meticulous eye and painstaking research, creates a past which reveals modest lives with all their awkwardnesses and painful secrets.
Margaret Forster's books hold you in their grip and linger in the mind long after being put down...Precious Lives is unputdownable... A remarkably courageous book which we should read, inwardly digest and, above all, enjoy
Forster is a terrific writer, witty and compassionate... [Precious Lives] manages to be completely honest wihout compromising the delicacy of its subjects: it is moving and funny too
"Dying is an art," wrote Sylvia Plath. Writing about dying is also an art, one which Margaret Forster possesses in no small measure... [She] pursues her purpose with such flair that she succeeds, once again, in riveting her reader... Precious Lives adds up to an exemplary tribute to two striking individuals